Day #28: Changing the Weather


“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.”  ~Bill Bowerman

Given that throughout most of the USA, the winter climes are less than agreeable to many runners, I thought it fitting to talk about the weather today. Despite theories of global warming which still have bunches of scientists scratching their heads, it looks as though you still can’t change the weather — only your attitude about it.

I am probably not the best guy to write about inclement conditions, now that I have been transplanted successfully to the near-perfect running weather of California’s central coast. Still, someone’s gotta broach the subject, and those too busy shoveling out are not the most likely candidates. So here goes.

I grew up just outside of Washington, DC, and spent my college years in Waterville, Maine – so I am well-acquainted with the throes of winter. Added to my youthful environs, I also spent most of those years out on the roads training. I have run in every type of weather, I think: I have logged miles in the eye and wispy aftermath of hurricanes, and I have run fartleks during heavy snowstorms. Sometimes I have even found myself shivering through an early morning run on ski slopes in light snowfall before a day of downhill. I have run the torrid, endless pavement of North Carolina’s backroads during humid August, and I have luxuriated in what is probably the most ideal running weather anywhere in the universe – late October in Maryland – that’s ‘marathon weather’!

I have darted from tree to opening to tree during lightning storms, not quite sure of which was supposed to offer safety, and I have been drenched by freezing rain which seeped its way beneath my layers of pointless tee-shirts and sweatshirts. I have run for 2 1/2 hours through acres of orange groves – only to find my training partner so parched he drank from a city canal and tore open orange after orange to try to quench his thirst. Once I slipped on glacial ice in the Alps after having 3 hours before been on the cusp of overheating 6,000 feet below. And a lifetime ago, I slid on my chest to my alarmed mother’s feet in the photo-finish of a rainy high school cross-country meet — my mother’s introduction to the sport. Why, I have even run on countless perfect days – 67.5 degrees fahrenheit, the slightest of breezes – just enough to keep you exactly comfortable – with clear blue skies and distant multi-form clouds… I have had a hundred such days in 2012 alone…. Like I said, the central coast:)

And while I am certain that there are hordes of distance runners who have seen all this and fivefold times more, I have seen enough to learn a few principles about running and the weather. And in all of my conclusions, Bowerman – the sage of our sport – rings true in his wisdom quoted above. Regarding the weather, (since it cannot be altered) it is only we runners who can – and so must – change.

Sure, we can change our gear, layering on newer and more breathable and better-wicking fabrics. And we can put our feet in ziplocks and secure them with rubber bands to keep out rain or snow or a combination of the two. We can don the winter face-mask and risk scaring our daughters out of their slippers as we sneak out before dawn to run the pristine new snow. But when all is said and done, we must change more than our outer shells. To run in every clime, we need to put on new attitudes of resilience – a rejuvenated inner hunger to overcome at any cost.

Yes, we must rise up to the measure of Bowerman’s harriers – we have to shed our softness in favor of an impenetrable toughness of soul. Then we can see each glorious day for the unique gift that it is. And run in it.

Keep rolling in every weather!

~Coach Reed

PS – Be sure to check out episode #2 of “A Runner’s Podcast.”

photo credit: Shutterstock