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Entries in rain (1)

Monday
Jan282013

Running in Rain - a cautionary tale

So last week we had snow. I took photos. It was pretty. Clarkie and I spent about two hours out in it on Sunday, and it snowed pretty much the entire time we were out. I guess the temperature was around -1C, -2C ish, not much colder than it had been all week. We got home, we were both warm, sweaty and a bit tired but otherwise dry and happy to have been out.

Tuesday rolls around, and that's when I do my long runs. This week I meant to go straight after lunch because I forgot my glasses and working at the computer starts to really hurt when that happens. But I didn't go. I faffed around. And then it started to rain. Hard. I was supposed to do 9-10 miles. And then that turned to snow. "Aha!" Thought I. "That's better than rain!" Then it started to settle in spite of the rain, so I decided to get on with it.

It was nearly 4pm by this stage, starting to get dark too. I figure I'll stay around town rather than run home, because I thought it would be better underfoot. It never crossed my mind that the buses get a bit dubious out our way when it snows. I had my down coat in my bag, I had waterproof trousers to put on. These had always been enough in the past, and I was wearing full length merino long johns and top and a rain jacket. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, I ran through snow for around 2 miles. Then it turned to sleet, and the snow and ice I'd been running on became puddles. At first I thought that was good - no more slipping. Then my feet got soaked, and I started to notice the chill. But I carried on and my feet warmed up. The sleet turned to rain and I started getting wet, but again, I was ok while I was running. I thought about stopping at 4 miles to get the bus, but figured I'd got that far and there was no real problem, I really should carry on and get my miles done. So I ran up and down the seafront, then turned back for the final couple of miles. That was where the problems started - I turned back into the wind. It was now completely dark, and I'd been in the rain for over an hour. I was soaked. My running jacket had wetted out, my buff was so wet I couldn't pull it up over my face and still breathe. The wind was blowing straight through my long johns.

Still, I thought I was ok. I stopped just shy of 9 miles, when I couldn't feel my legs too well and I could feel my form going. I stopped in a shelter on the sea front, out of the wind and rain, and stripped down to my (sodden) merino layer before putting the down jacket and waterproof trousers over the top. Normally this is instant warmth, and I did feel better. Then I checked my phone, because Clarkie works in town and I thought we could head home together.

She'd sent me a text, letting me know that the buses back to Woodingdean had been cancelled. Shit. Still, at least we could meet up. I called her, we agreed a meeting point, and I left the shelter. Back out in the rain and wind, I started to realise I had a few problems. My soaked gloves were not helping, and down coats are designed for cold, dry conditions, not rain. By the time I'd walked far enough back along the seafront to meet Clarkie, I was already pretty cold. She made me stop in the foyer of the Travelodge and put her gloves on, and we decided to get a taxi.

Sadly the queue for the taxis was (unsurprisingly with buses cancelled) long. When we got to the front, the first two drivers refused to go out to Woodingdean. The third fortunately agreed to try and get us close, and set off up the hill. Halfway up the hill he encountered some pretty unpleasant slush, and saw the queue from Woodingdean all the way back into Brighton. He turned around, and agreed to try the seafront route. At least in the taxi I was warm. The coast road was also queuing, but not as badly, so he managed to get us back into Woodingdean before the slush got too bad again. He dropped us 5 minutes from home, which was a major relief, but by the time I'd walked those 5 minutes I was full-body shivering and apparently my lips had gone blue. Quite the adventure.

So. Lessons learnt?

  • Running in +1C and rain is much, much worse than running in -1C and snow.
  • If the conditions are cold and wet, try to stop running as close to your front door as possible.
  • If that's not possible, carry a dry top and socks as well as the outer layer. Find somewhere to change - buy a hot drink in a pub and use their loos if necessary!
  • Carry a spare bag for either the wet stuff, or to put the stuff that must stay dry in while the rest of the bag is wet.

None of this is rocket science, but I thought at least if I could learn something the horrendous experience would be useful. I'm looking at more wet weather this week I think, but it's warmer now so the buses should be ok. I think I might still try to end up close to home though!