Don’t Avoid The Rain

I’m training for the upcoming Cap City Half-Marathon. I needed more exercise and I thought, hey, why not completely torture myself?
I’m ramping up to the big day with a twelve-week training program. Three days each week I run normal distances of three to six miles. Saturdays are my “long run” days. Each week, the long run gets a mile longer. This week, it was ten miles. Ten miles should take around two hours with warmup, stretching, and cool-down. The problem is, it’s Spring in Ohio, which means it can be hard to find two hours of decent weather.
Saturday the forecast said scattered showers. I had planned an “out and back” route, which would take me five miles away from my house. At that point, I’d turn around and head back. It’s a great way to ensure you’ll get your miles in, even if you have to walk, limp, crawl, or ambulance your way back home. A quick check of the weather radar indicated the coast was clear, so I took off.
The first five miles were surprisingly easy, but my legs were starting to fatigue and I could tell that my body had pretty much used up all three pancakes from breakfast. I turned around and headed back toward home, suddenly feeling like home was a looooong way away. Fighting off thoughts of “I have to do ANOTHER five miles?“, I downed a bottle of water and forged ahead.
A light sprinkle began. No big deal.
A light rain began. Again, no big deal.
The trail passed under a bridge, providing about five seconds of shelter against the rain. I kept running.
Then the monsoon hit. A torrential downpour soaked me from head to toe (all ten toes, in fact). “All part of the training” I thought to myself, although the rain was beginning to quite effectively drown my good attitude. An umbrella would’ve been the perfect solution to this problem. One of my friends just bought a very good umbrella (according to some online reviews he’d read, you could click here to see one of the pages he told me about) the other day, perhaps I should’ve copied him and took a look around for an umbrella.
Then a flash of lightning and an instant crack of thunder. How far back was that bridge, again? I found it pretty darn quickly. Taking refuge under the bridge with several other runners and one poor mother with a double stroller, soaking wet, and no longer generating any heat from running, I was getting colder and more ticked off by the second. And I thought the classic thought that you think when faced with a situation like this. “This sucks.
After about ten minutes, the rain went back down to a sprinkle and the lightning moved far enough away for me to feel safe again. But now I’m cold, irritated, and standing in squishy shoes. I hate squishy shoes. Then I remembered my wife’s parting words as I headed out the door. “Call me if you get caught in the rain and I’ll come pick you up.” Believe me, I was so tempted to call her. I wanted a ride and some sympathy, and some Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup.
Instead, I fired up my iPod and started my run again, squishy shoes and all. Twenty steps in, I got used to the squish. By a hundred paces or so, I realized that I…felt…GREAT! I was generating heat again, so the chill disappeared. I was re-energized, refreshed, and strangely relaxed. I had even picked up my pace. The 2nd half of my run went by in a blink. When I hit ten miles, I thought, “That’s it? That was so much easier than I anticipated.” I’ve never had a long run that didn’t feel like a looooong run.
I give all the credit to the rain. I tried to avoid it. I resented it while it was falling on me. It made me completely uncomfortable. It tempted me to quit. Little did I know that while all that was happening, the rain was refreshing me, giving me some much needed rest and energy, and placing the seed of this article in my brain.
It rains quite often in our lives and in our workplaces. Relationships get rocky. Projects fail. Friends and co-workers let us down. Technology crashes. Work piles up. Deadlines loom. Bosses demand. Employees leave. Clients become difficult. The economy threatens our very existence. Rain, rain, rain.
Looking back (and being honest and objective), you’ll recognize that times of rain almost always lead to a time of refreshed energy, a new way of working, or a much-needed cleansing in your life or your work. The recent economic disaster might have lead you to a new career, a streamlined and more profitable way to conduct your business, or gave you some much needed time with your family. The rain wasn’t pleasant at the time, but the results have been surprisingly positive for many.
If it’s raining on you right now, don’t give up hope, and don’t give up…period. Here are some thoughts that might help:
  • Rain is pretty harmless. You can keep running in the rain. Keep running.
  • Lightning kills. Better to stop for a few minutes to let it pass. If a situation is extremely stressful or potentially harmful in some way, a short break can make all the difference. Distance or protect yourself from the situation (or person) temporarily and let the danger pass. Then start running again.
  • Remember that rain never lasts. And there is no more beautiful moment in life than when the rain stops and the sun comes out. That moment itself can be a spectacular reward for running through the rain.
  • Recognize and celebrate the refreshment and energy that rain can bring. Don’t dwell on the negative stuff, but spend time reflecting on the good things that result from the rain. Granted sometimes it takes a while to make these connections, but when you connect the dots backwards, you will gain a whole new appreciation for the rain.
  • If you find it raining too often, you may need to move to a more suitable climate for you. Some people love Seattle, yet can’t stand how often it rains, so they move to San Diego where they are much happier overall. You may find it hard to leave your current situation, but there may just be a better situation overall for you somewhere else. Ever see those people on the TV news who live in a trailer next to a river? Every few years, the river rises and destroys their trailer, yet they refuse to move. They usually say something profound like, “This is the fifth time I’ve lost my trailer. I don’t know how many more times I can go through this.” Time to move up the hill, Bubba.
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned from my run this past weekend: If you worry too much about the rain, you’ll never finish your run…because you’ll never start. The most successful people in life and business are the ones who don’t avoid the rain; they run no matter what the weather. They keep working, learning, improving, changing, and plugging away in both good times and bad.
Keep running. And never underestimate the refreshing, re-energizing power of a good, drenching rain.

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