It’s been an incredibly overcast and wet spring here on the We(s)t Coast: Vancouver broke a record for the least sunshine EVER recorded. The lack of sunshine has been a challenge, both for staying positive and in motivating myself to get outside every day. Being outdoors every day is an important part of my life: a goal I set for myself this year is to be outside for a run each day–regardless of the weather.
I was looking outside this afternoon at another rainy day and mentally preparing myself to be cold and wet on my daily run. Thinking about a run in such conditions, and the first few minutes are the most challenging for me, as I clear my mind and settle in. It’s wet, it’s gray, and I need to be consciously positive to get out the door. I know I’ll feel better when I’m moving, and especially afterwards… sometimes the first step(s) are the hardest.
It dawned on me that people might find some tips and strategies for motivating myself out the door during the wet and overcast weather useful, so here’s a few:
Make the best of it
This alone often helps me motivate myself to get out in the rain. Making the best of a situation sounds simple, yet it really works.
My attitude towards things is what I can change to make any situation better. The rain is simply the rain; I can choose to lament the lack of sunshine for my run or I can put on a rain jacket, Smartwool socks, and make the best of it. I can get outside and make the best of it, regardless of the temperature, wind and precipitation. The same holds for all life situations: I may not be able to control what’s happening, but I can choose my attitude. Making the best of a situation is heaps better than complaining about it.
I love visualization! When I’m preparing to run in the rain or sleet, I visualize what it would be like running on a clear, sunny day. This immediately lifts my mood, and I then connect with how I would feel to be running in the summer sun. Those feelings help improve my spirits as I get out the door.
Remembering what the area looks like in summer is also a great way to help me appreciate the precipitation—the luxuriant green growth is contingent upon adequate rainfall and soil moisture during the growing season. Sometimes, I’ll even visualize myself running in Canyonlands while I’m out in the coastal rain.
While I thought about how unenthused I was to go run in the rain and be wet, it dawned on me how fortunate I am to be able to go for a run. I also considered how much better I would feel after getting fresh air and exercise. I’m fortunate to live in a beautiful place, and a relatively safe and peaceful outdoor space in which to run. I could feel my enthusiasm to run increasing as I thought about the positive things in my life I was grateful for:
I have the mobility to get outside for a run.
I have technical clothing and shoes to keep me comfortable as I run.
I have the free time available to run.
I have all of my senses to draw upon to help me appreciate the environment I’m in and traveling through.
I’m able to exercise outside in the fresh air.
I am close to a wonderful trail that takes me through a beautiful natural area.
The rain is filling the reservoirs, lakes, ponds, rivers, and raising the groundwater table.
The plants and trees are thriving with all the rain.
Vibrant greens of new growth herald the coming of summer.
I would see birds and possibly wildlife on the trail.
The more I can focus on appreciating, the better I feel and the greater my motivation. Positive energy attracts more positive energy, and with each statement of gratitude it becomes easier to think of others. This positive energy carries over into the rest of my day, and I feel great and ready to accomplish my goals.
Changing my view a situation from the negative aspects to the positive aspects really helps me appreciate more. It’s taken practice to begin to see running in the rain as an opportunity—I can test the waterproofness of this jacket—rather than as an obstacle—I’m going to be soaked in ten minutes—yet it really works. Retraining myself to see situations as opportunities instead of obstacles has helped me become more positive and enthusiastic about running when I know I’ll be getting wet.
There’s a saying along the lines of
There’s no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing for the conditions.
I’ve taken this spring as an opportunity to try out new layering systems for my outdoor clothing. Each day’s conditions are different, and it’s been enjoyable to try out combinations of jacket, shirt and shorts or tights, adding or subtracting toques and gloves. Wearing colorful technical clothing like my blue tights, red rain jacket, and teal toque helps improve my mood AND make me more visible during high-traffic times.
Tuning into how you feel at any moment helps with being present, improves body awareness, and strengthens the mind-body connection. I prefer being dry to being wet: it’s been hugely beneficial for me to connect with how I feel to stay present and motivated in rainy conditions. When I focus on the different senses, and on being grateful for what I experience, it becomes easier to find more things to be grateful for… which improves my mood and generates more positive energy.
Once I’ve settled into a good pace for the day (which changes depending on how I feel), I consciously connect with my breath to eliminate rumination and mental chatter. I’ll then work through my senses, bringing my awareness as I run to my eyes (what I see), ears (what I hear), nose (what I smell), tongue (what I taste) and body (what I feel). Working through the senses activates different areas of the brain, and I find that it really helps clear my mind. Some of the best ideas and inspirations I’ve had come during my long runs or shortly after finishing.
Today, after connecting to my breath to quiet my mind, I noticed there was a lot of vibrant green growth in the lawns of the houses I ran by. I could hear the rain on the road, and once I hit the trail, hitting the leaves. The creek was running high, and drowned out all other sounds as I followed the trail. I could smell the wet pavement, the moist earth, and fresh green vegetation. My tongue tasted the sweet raindrops as I cruised along the trails. I could feel sensations of all kinds in my body: my feet were wet and squished as water accumulated in and on my shoes. My body warmed as I ran, though I could feel the cold rainwater through my jacket as it saturated. There was a light breeze near the creek that grazed my face, and I could feel more warmth in the air as the sky lightened toward the end of my run.
I hope this quick list of strategies I use to motivate myself to get out the door in the rain, and to keep going when I’m wet help you be active during the spring showers. What strategies do you use to motivate yourself to get outdoors when it’s less than ideal?