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Nope, this isn’t a picture of the rain that’s been falling and falling and falling and falling in my hometown for days.  But it could have been.

And nope, I never ran on this particular road on this particular day in these particular conditions.  But I would have, if I’d had the opportunity. 

Used to be, the gray, rainy, windy, cold conditions of late Fall and early Spring, really got to me.  And not in a good way.  At one time, I even considered the possibility that I might have that sunlight deficiency syndrome–whatever it’s called.  I would be moody, crabby, blue. 

This year has been different.  This year I have encountered the Running Transformation.  True, the body hasn’t been entirely very transformed, but my attitude is getting quite the overhaul.  Here (in part) is how:

I discovered that I really love to run in the rain.  The colder and wetter and windier and messier, the better, really.  I think it’s absolutely awesome and my attitude, coupled with the endorphins that flow during and after a decent run, have caused me to have a Pavlovian response to a rainy weather forecast.  I actually feel better when I know it’s going to rain and I can get out and run in it.

I know, it’s Just. Not. Right.  But I can’t help myself.  I love it.

Partly, I think it helps that I’ve got a few pieces of couldn’t-run-in-the-cold-and-rain-without-them running gear that have made a humongous difference in the enjoyment department.  For instance, the right shoes and socks have kept my feet cozy dry in downpours and while running through puddle-laden streets.  (I promise I’ll do posts on my very useful gear pieces separately.  And soon.  Don’t give up on me…I’m just random like this.)

Also, I think it’s kinda cool to feel cozy, warm and dry, even when the cold rain is splashing on my face.  I love the contradiction.  Plus, it’s perfectly fine for me to have people think I’m a little crazy.  I rather enjoy it. 

Then there’s the idea that I hate being told what to do.  When the weather guy tells us how cold and rainy it’s going to be and the darling little anchor sitting near him becomes all sad and says in her sweet little voice, “Brrr…No fun…Bring your umbrella and bundle up…Stay inside if you can,” I think, “How stupid.  They can’t tell me what to do and how to feel about this weather!”  Yet, this was the first year I actually had a viable alternative to rainy-day-misery.

When I run in the rain, I feel like with every step I take, I’m crushing all that negativity and with every swing of my arm, I punch that doom-and-gloom attitude right in the nose.  When it’s cold, I am awake, alert, and alive–and I often don’t even need that second pot of coffee.  When it’s windy and messy and muddy and sloppy, the challenge is invigorating and (dare I say it?) fun.

And my times are actually better in the rain.  Not that my times matter (like, AT ALL), since my running times still put me well behind most runners, albeit ahead of the walkers.  Still, the contradiction thing keeps sparking my interest–lots of runners have slower times in the rain.  Once again, I am the opposite of normal.

Anyway, just wanted you to know that as we all deal with the downpours together, there’s somebody out here really, really happy about the weather.  If you really hate the weather, I promise to do my best to enjoy it for you!  No need to thank me. 

And just think.  Soon, I get to try my feet at snow! 

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Last May when I started “running” I truly did not know what I was getting myself into.  I had zero gear, except for one pair of fairly old running shoes that I believed to be the right size (I later found that belief was completely false).  I walked my first 5K in an old-ish pair of Nike sweatpants, a comfy cotton tee-shirt, my old shoes and a 8 year-old running bra.  Thankfully, the weather was fairly forgiving and since my pace was mega-slow, I didn’t experience any of the grave issues that can come from having inadequate gear.  

Now, you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to participate in this sport, but there are some essential items.  But how do you know what’s essential and what’s a scam?  Thanks to my friend Shelly, and her awesome coaches at Team In Training, I learned quickly what was important.  (Check out the post about Chub Rub, for one example of these timely truths.)

Shelly gave me hints about the right kind of shoes, how I’d have to actually eat and drink during long runs, the importance of a good running bra, which socks rocked and why, and the difference between cotton (bad) and wicking fabrics (good) in running gear.  These are things that were completely off my radar.  Completely.  If I hadn’t had her advice, I surely would have quit this exercise experiment early in a blithering, whining mass of blisters and chaffed skin and dehydration. 

So, in the interest of good sportsmanship, I’ll share the tips and tidbits about gear here for anyone else who might be wanting to get started and wondering what they’re going to need. 

Please note that the information certainly will NOT be given in order of importance.  Rather, it will be given in the order that it happens to randomly cross my mind when I sit down to the computer.  That’s just how I roll.  The Chub Rub post started us off and this Mystery Gear Item will be just as random.

Cotton is evil in running-land, because although it washes up easily, it holds moisture and encourages chaffing.  Even if you’re a skinny-minny, you still will have body parts that touch when you run (assuming you have toes), so this does apply to you.  For those of you who are not skinny-minny, well, this becomes even more important. 

With cotton, sweat=wet+rubbing=ouch!  So, some incredibly smart entreprenural-type person decided to create a textile that would actually wick moisture away from the athlete’s body and hold that moisture away from the person, on the outside of the clothing.  This is my best way of describing what happens with these fabrics. 

Wicking fabrics or technical fabrics, as they’re called, are common for athletes today.  But when I decided to engage midlife as an adult-onset athlete (credit: John Bingham for this incredibly descriptive term), I’d never heard of the stuff.  Truly, my running days of old had been pre-technical fabric. 

I asked my friend Shelly if the stuff really worked or if it was just some stupid marketing scam, fully expecting to get the all-clear to continue to wear my 15 year-old tee-shirts.  To my surprise, she related that the stuff really did work and made a huge difference.

I was glad to discover that the technical fabric gear wasn’t hard to find, but not enthusiastic that it took some extra effort in the “care” department.  Apparently, these fabrics can’t be laundered with fabric softener, which means (in my world):  Separate Loads of Laundry For All Running Gear.  I indulged in a few pieces, figuring that if the stuff worked, it would be worth the hassle. 

And amazingly, it DID work.  Not just somewhat, but Amazingly.  Shelly was right and I was glad I’d listened to her. 

And who knew that so many things could come in technical fabrics:  everything from outerwear to underwear.  (No, I most certainly do not own every permutation of the stuff…I’m a rookie, remember!) 

When I was at the VA Beach Half Marathon, I discovered a great store at the expo.  Lots of Experienced Runners will be familiar with this company, but I wasn’t and spent a lot of time laughing at the things I saw there.  I’ve included some of my favorite slogans that were on their technical shirts, for your amusement.  (Too bad I don’t get a referral for sending you to them!  😉  )

The company:  One More Mile Running Apparel

What I bought/spent:  More Than I’m Willing to Admit (My husband reads this blog, for heaven’s sake!)

Some of my favorites, complete with links to the site:

motherrunnerLS[1]

Mine is in light purple.  I LOVE it.  I’m even sweating in it in my Facebook profile!  Here’s the link to the site so you can get your own: http://www.onemoremilerunning.com/long-sleeve/one-bad-mother-runner-long-sleeve/prod_665.html

 

seemed_ls[1]

Okay, so the back of this shirt reads:  RACE OFFICIAL.  DO NOT PASS.  I thought this was downright hilarious.  The link:  http://www.onemoremilerunning.com/long-sleeve/seemed-like-a-good-idea-long-sleeve/prod_336.html

 

foundongroundLS[1]

If Found On Ground, Please Drag Across Finish Line.  I was so tempted to buy this, but didn’t want it to be some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, so I just giggle at it online now and then.http://www.onemoremilerunning.com/long-sleeve/if-found-on-ground-long-sleeve/prod_636.html

 

Oh, there are so many more, but the point, of course, is that fun and functional can intersect into some pretty incredible gear that does some pretty incredible things for you.  Having the right shirts has helped me to stay cool when it’s warm and stay warm when it’s cold.  And it’s helped me keep a positive attitude, a useful perspective, and a good sense of humor, which can’t be bought online or off the shelf, but, I’ve learned, is some of the most important stuff to take on a run. 

Thanks Shelly.  😀

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