Monday, June 21, 2010

Running, in the Rain; a Guide

How you too can find yourself looking forward to those gray, cloudy, drizzly days

So, you're reading this blog thinking "this guy is whacked, I'm not going out there in the rain!" Ask yourself this: Why not? The answers will always feel like excuses - go on, try it, answer the question... see, it feels like an excuse doesn't it?

Now that we've gotten past that, lets talk about what you can do to make running in the rain your favorite pastime.


The location for your run can really impact your state of mind. if you are constantly dodging puddles, leaping lakes, and mucking through mud the run will not be too fun - usually paved trails with good drainage work best. I find that level areas provide the best meditative runs, hills provide more challenge. It is also good to find a purpose built trail, especially during prolonged heavy rains - running along side a road can get you soaked as some drivers tend to view the combination of standing water and you as a great temptation. 


If there are electrical storms in the area it's probably best to wait! I tend to prefer a heavy drizzle to a hard rain, but there are times when either are exhilarating. No matter the intensity, rain acts as an "acoustic wash" providing a level of white noise that is great for contemplation or just getting lost in the moment. The world is a different place outside in the rain - it's serene.


If there is one thing that can ruin running in the rain it is cotton. Cotton is the abrasive sponge of the textile industry. If you are dry it's nice and soft, but get it wet and after a mile you'll have chafing that will scream COTTON! to you when jump in the shower. "Tech fabric" is a glorified name for polyester. This is not to be confused with those lime green leisure suits from the '70s. Tech fabric is light and soft, it's only joy in life is to suck moisture off your skin and keep it away. Tech fabric is definitely one of the main keys that turned me into a rain runner. I can be in a complete downpour soaking me from head to toe, but as soon as the rain's intensity abates - I'm dry. Tech clothing from shirts to socks helps keep you dry ( tech socks are awesome for channeling moisture from feet to prevent blisters) and does not cling - no wet T-shirt contests here! One article of clothing really helps in the rain: a baseball cap. You can keep your eyes out of the rain or turn it around to get a good spritz - it is nice keeping the eyes dry on the long runs - on windy days glasses are advisable too.

"Dress as if the temperature was twenty degrees warmer, if it's raining go for 10 degrees" - Eric Sach

How much to wear?  
Temperature is a funny thing - Just standing around in 50 degree weather (Fahrenheit) in shorts and a T shirt is a bit cold. Trust me though, when you are running it is enough.Eric Sach of The Balanced Athlete summed up gear choice quite succinctly "If it's dry out dress as if the temperature was twenty degrees warmer, if it's raining 10 degrees"  The following are rough guidelines, they work well for me, but people are different. 

50 and above
The shorts and Tshirt work up until around 70 degrees, above that I'd switch to a singlet top. 

40 - 50
I'd keep the tshirt, but either put a long sleeve shirt underneath or move to long pants. Long pants and heavy rain make for added weight though, try tights - seriously... guys too (these are awesome for warmth and wicking)

Don the long pants/tights and layered long-sleeve/Tshirt combo. ear muffs are optional. Gloves too are optional, but after the first mile, your hands do warm up considerably.

Under 30
You will need to add gloves - but also you'll be running in the snow - so get some traction devices for your shoes and BE CAREFUL one slip and you might take a few months before you can run again!

Do yourself a favor - if you haven't tried it, give it a shot - Go run in the rain and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Post marathon training is now just running - I'm in need of more discipline. Although my distance is good, my pace is too fast and my runs too infrequent. Too fast of a pace is do-able, but there's a price to pay - small injuries tend to crop up when you are out of the MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) mode. In my two runs since the marathon I've had a night and day difference; The first run was aerobic and slow 11 miles, the second was non-aerobic and fast and longer 13.4 the difference in mileage was small, the difference in pace was large now I'm sporting a sore foot.

This run was relaxed - nice and easy. The pace was slow, but definately a jog. I was not sore after this run, I was ready to run the next day.

Unfortunately life happens and I needed to wait two days to run again. So when I had my chance on Sunday AM to be out of church I ran with The Balanced Athlete on their Sunday AM group run. I brought the camera along and grabbed a few shots...

The group started out at The Balanced Athlete in the Landing at Renton and because it was a glorious sunny day we ran up the Maple Valley Trail. Some did 4 miles, some did 8. I and a few others decided a half marathon would be a good Sunday morning run. The Maple Valley Trail follows the Cedar River for the most part and one of the first portions is a walkway along the bank - the water is just about up to the walkway so you really feel close to the water - makes for some nice cool breezes and wonderful views, the cedar is a quick river that provides a great view from benches along side the path. Sitting and looking was not on the agenda and we proceeded up the river. On the outskirts of the city core, the trail becomes more "woodsy" for a while and the shade is quite nice.
Eric and the crew: Job well done
Righted - but sitting on the wheel lock
The Maple Valley Trail is frequented by a lot of bikers, of late there has been a speed limit imposed on the trail due to a fatal collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian. The City added in a portable radar speed wagon. that at sometime previous a group of folks decided to tip over. the TBA crew would have none of that and righted the hapless machine - no small feat as the low center of gravity and weight from the battery box really provided a nice upper-body workout! Once the detector was righted the crew continued on up the trail.
The rest of the run was uneventful, sunny and warm. I had my Amphipod belt so water was not an issue - it worked out nicely, but I may get some more bottles and a gel bottle for longer runs

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gollum runs a marathon

Road Trip!

The day started with the sunrise, which normally most Washingtonians are blissfully unaware of. Today was different, not a cloud was to be seen. The burning ball of hydrogen spewed it's radiation indiscriminately striking all around with intense illumination. The sunscreen so cavalierly tossed in the closet last September  would be called upon today.

The preparation for the race was hap-hazard, but complete. Little did I realize I would be so ill prepared for the sunniest day of the year so far. The race started informally - no chips here, my right calf bears a hastily scrawled "281" that is my race number. 

Race materials
  • Sprint HTC EVO 4G for remote tracking via Google Lattitude
  • Garmin Forerunner 305 Onboard telemetry
  • 16GB Ipod Nano with Nike+ system
  • Amphipod hydration belt (20 oz)
  • Strawberry CHOMPS electrolyte/carbohydrate supplement
The race began  heading the wrong way - we needed to head south into Auburn before turning and heading north. the race for the most part followed the interurban trail which is a nicely maintained asphalt trail. The course for the most part is very level. My friend John and his son Jordan showed up at the beginning to cheer me on and followed for a couple of miles cheering me on from their car. The route crossed streets but it mostly followed the green river so a slight decline in elevation over time was to be expected - only two small hills that are over quickly, though with both past the 19 mile point, they were less than welcome. :D

When the race did leave the trail, it went thick into industrial Tukwila/Seattle and then through the urban residential suburbs of Southpark, back to urban industrial west Seattle and then the final 3 miles running up Alki for the finish on one of the most picturesque beaches in Seattle.
twenty miles is the halfway point in a marathon 
The solitude of running can be a great thing, but it can also make your mind your own worst enemy. especially when you start running out of energy.  Having run the race I can say there is incredible truth to the axiom the that twenty miles is the halfway point in a marathon as I felt that all I had was sucked out of me at that point. I was walking and running, my pulse was completely reactive - two minutes of slow jogging at 5 mph would send my pulse to the other side of 150 and walking would only drop it to my target rate. I was using the CHOMPS as Eric Sach had instructed  - bitten in two and allowed to melt in your cheeks. when I noticed my mouth getting dry I'd hit the Amphipod bottles. although after twenty miles I was drinking enough to noticeably "slosh" while running. from 20-23 miles was my low point but was buoyed y the return of my wife and friends who offered water and support , I started to pick back up at 24 only to be admonished a couple of short hills once I hit the each, I pushed and started running again - at that point a great realization hit me - you have it in you if you think you do, you don't if you don't. I started running and did not stop - another entrant was running along side me now - she was doing 22 miles to prep for another marathon, we talked as we ran. I was surprised that I could do either but the camaraderie helped me continue - a shared goal is easier to achieve. My wife and friends were there waiting for me, cheering me on and helping me celebrate a goal achieved. 26.2 miles is a long way, much longer than I thought and something that would have been impossible to do without friends

People who made this accomplishment possible:
First and Foremost Evi Stratton, my wife of 26 years who has supported my wacky desire to run during any weather.
John and Dorsey Marx ( and Jordy too) who have been the best of friends and running partners
Dean Krippaehne for turning me on to "Born to Run" and being once of the motivators to this obsession.
Eric Sach for selling me a pair of shoes and giving me far more in knowledge and guidance than a large pile of shoes would cost.
Tanna Kilgallon for constant motivation and support and advice on running and marathons
The Whole Gang at Nike+ for the monthly competitions that made me strive to do better 
and "TheRapture" from forums who enlightened me to the world of Maximum Aerobic Function training

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Marathon is on!

Woohoo! track my progress in the map to the right - the race starts at 7:30am, so as you are drinking your morning coffee, watch me run - and as an added benefit you now know where to send the oxygen.

I'm hoping this new-fangled technology works.