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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tips for Remaining Active in Gloomy and Rainy Weather

The Seattle area has a reputation for being notoriously gloomy and rainy, but I actually consider this a bit of a misconception. In the several years that I have lived here, I've learned that even though the forecast may call for rain, it's often for only part of the day, and frequently the clouds clear out to let some beautiful sunlight through. Our summers are sunny and gorgeous, and spring and fall are usually quite beautiful. Even during the winter months, I often find plenty of sunny or at least partially sunny days to soak up some Vitamin D.

That said, it has been a particularly gray and damp couple of winter months with average rainfall quite a bit higher than usual. Even though I'm a huge fan of the rain and don't mind the gloom for a few days in a row, I admit that this has been a tough winter and I am officially ready for some sunny skies.

Staying active is critical to keeping my mental health in check, and it's especially important with the dark and gloomy weather. So how exactly does one stay motivated to exercise when it makes more sense to hibernate with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book by the fireplace? I often talk to others about how difficult it can be to get yourself out the door with less-than-ideal weather conditions, and I feel like I have found some pretty good tricks for getting myself outside even in the worst of Seattle weather:
  1. Create an activity/workout schedule. Write it down on your phone calendar, and use reminders that annoyingly chime at you when it's time to get moving. Carve time out of your day and set it aside for working out. Knowing the activity is planned and seeing it on my schedule makes it very difficult for me to ignore, and having a set plan really helps me be successful in getting out the door even on the worst of days.
  2. Plan to meet a friend (or several). I cannot recommend finding a running group or a workout buddy enough. It's so much easier to get myself out the door when I know that my friends will be out there suffering in the pouring rain with me. Remember: misery loves company.
  3. Dress for the weather. I've mentioned this on more than one occasion because it can make ALL THE DIFFERENCE between a good run and a horrible one. Invest in a good running jacket specifically made to handle the wind and rain. Get yourself a good base layer for those cold days, find yourself a decent pair of tech running gloves, and buy that dorky buff and running beanie to protect your neck and head from the elements. Embrace the running gear and accept that you're going to look a little ridiculous and mismatched sometimes. It's worth it for the comfort.
  4. Sign up for a race (or several). In the middle of winter. Yes, just do it. Accept that it's going to be cold and likely a soaking wet set of miles, but having a goal gives meaning and purpose to those awful-weather training runs.
  5. Cross train the heck out of the winter. Give yourself a break from the cold and find a hot yoga class to try. Accept that it's going to hurt and applaud yourself for doing it anyway. If yoga isn't your thing, try something else: CrossFit, Zumba, barre classes, swimming, tennis, a pilates or aerobics video, heck - even a stairclimber. There are so many options for cross training, and you don't have to break the bank or even leave your house to sneak a quick cross training workout in. 
  6. Have a back-up workout plan. Running through a thunderstorm isn't a bright idea. Trust me, I've been that idiot. If severe weather hits during your planned workout, have an alternative plan ready to go. My backup is to either hit up a power yoga class or make it an impromptu ABS DAY. 
    My core was on fire, hence the constipated-looking strain
    on my face. Robot Capris and Crane Shirt by INKnBURN.
  7. Follow the 10-Minute Rule. I wish I could credit the original brain behind this idea, but alas, I cannot remember where I read it. One of my favorite tricks on the 'but I don't want to do this!' days is to tell myself, "Look, Self, give it ten minutes. You can handle ten minutes of near-freezing rain and wind in your face. After ten minutes of this heinous torture, you can turn around and tell me 'I told you so'." Honestly? I have never once stopped at that ten-minute mark. Ten minutes is enough time to get your body warmed up and past that initial full-body moaning and groaning, and it's also enough activity to get those endorphins fired up, which totally fake you into believing that the cold torrential downpour you're running through isn't so bad after all
  8. Give mud a chance. Don't be a hater. Everyone deserves a little love, even unattractive terrain. If you know it's going to be wet and gross outside, why not add a little mud to the equation? Find a trail, squeeze a pair of gators onto your ankles, and go splash through some muddy puddles. Consider it a right of passage and high-five your running buddy. Remember to take selfies. Bragging rights, y'all. 
    Obligatory trail-running selfie.
  9. Plan a date. My weekend running group meets for coffee and donuts after our morning long-distance run, and the thought of a coffee date on a runner's high is often enough of a motivator for me to get my rear end out the door even on a miserable cold and rainy morning. 
  10. Stalk your weather app. I'm a huge weather geek and always have one eye on my weather apps. Even though the prediction calls for rain, it often does not necessarily mean it will be raining all day. On most days I manage to find a mostly dry or light-rain spot predicted at some point. If you have a flexible schedule, have your running gear nearby and get outside when your app says there is a low chance of showers.
I'd love to hear your tips for getting outdoors when the weather is uncooperative. Some days I still struggle to get myself outdoors, so new motivation is always appreciated!

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