What do we do in Britain better than anybody else?
Pubs, almost definitely.
Also, it rains a lot. And boy, we can certainly complain about that. I doubt if any country in the world can scrape as much small talk from the subject of weather as well as the Brits do. When it’s good, it’s the focus of our attention, and when it’s bad, yes, it’s also the focus of our attention.
When you practise any kind of outdoor activity I suppose it makes sense to complain. To revel in sunshine is one of the simplest, greatest joys available to us. It is also objectively good for you, in the correct doses. Sunshine improves your mood, your immunity, your bones, muscles. When it’s out the British do tend to overdo it, but that’s just because we know that weeks like the one we have just had, and like the one that we are heading into, are coming. Grey skies. Cold winds. Squalls of the most depressing rain.
And that’s anytime of the year.
So although it is June, and summer should be knocking down our door, no one is surprised to find that it isn’t.
I do have access to a treadmill, which I’m grateful for as, with gyms still closed, I imagine that many others do not. In any case, I have not been using it. Both sets of trainers that I am currently rotating are, as I write, stuffed with paper towels to try and soak up the rain which they have absorbed from the drenched country roads and the constant drip of wet, wet rain that has been tumbling from the skies.
There’s something about it though, isn’t there?
Something which makes it tougher, grittier, something which makes it more refreshing, more satisfying. Sure, it is certainly harder to convince yourself to get out of the door when it’s belting down, but once you’re out there, once you’re wet through, you aren’t getting any wetter, are you? So you may as well keep going.
What I’ve found is that in the rain it takes longer to overheat. Easier running feels consequently feels even easier, and harder running is less of a sweaty mess, as our internal cooling system is supplemented by an external one.
Ultimately, the joy of running in the rain isn’t the practical benefits. It’s how much quieter it feels, and how much tougher you feel. You’re the nutter out there pounding the streets in the thundering rain, drenched to the bone. People are looking at you from their cars, judging you to be completely mad. And yes, perhaps you are. Perhaps I am. All I know is that when I get back and peel my dripping socks from my feet, when I step into the warming shower, or lower myself into the heat of a bath, the satisfaction of completion is all the more heady and wonderful. That recovery protein shake gets replaced by a heartening cup of tea, which replenishes the spirit over anything else.
So here’s what I’m saying about the rain: run in it. Embrace it.
And when you get back, stick the kettle on, and revel in it.