Best to Run in Rain or Sunshine?

Living in Southern Thailand has its ups and downs. I’m not sure what to call the rainy season here, because there is good and bad about it. The primary good thing is that daytime temperatures drop by 15-20°F on a good day when a storm rolls in from China, or Laos up north. Otherwise the temperature on an average day with sunshine is around 90-95°F. Quite hot for strenuous exercise.

Sunday morning I was set to go do a run up the mountain but it was raining pretty hard. I SMS’ed my buddy who was supposed to go earlier that morning to ask for a weather report because it’s a 30 minute drive on the motorbike (was giving wife the car that day). He was AWOL, and 3 days later STILL haven’t heard from him. He might have died up there on the mountain for all I know.

So I got my stuff ready and just decided to go in the rain. I rode about half-a-mile and turned around and came back to the house. It was coming down much harder. I went back in the house, read something about ultra-running on the computer, and looked outside. It was raining lightly. I said – screw it, I’m going! Got back on the motorbike and rode the 30 minutes to get there. I got soaking wet, even with the worthless poncho I wore. My things were dry under the seat, so I changed at the benches at the foot of the mountain trail. The rain had slowed more… it was very cool. Perfect weather. Not one person parked in the lot – just me. I do love to be the only one running the 8km trail!

I started out medium fast because I felt good. Then I was hammering it because I felt great in the cool temperatures. I ended up with a 2nd fastest run ever up the mountain, and I didn’t think I was ready for that kind of speed at all. It is just SO MUCH EASIER to push in the cooler weather (80°F) instead of the usual 95°F or more.

When it’s sunny, it just seems naturally like a better time to go running, but I think that’s our moms talking to us from years ago. The better time to run is, by far, during a light rain. Even a heavy rain, if you wear a hat, can be an amazing day. It feels as if you’re eight years old and running through puddles again. Some of my favorite running days have been during downpours.

What about you? Do you run during the rain?

I can see that in the cold areas of the world, running in the rain wouldn’t be much fun. I lived in Pennsylvania growing up and ran quite a bit in the cold rain. Not enjoyable at all.

But, when it’s warm and raining – do you GO or stay inside hoping it clears up?

Let me know what you think…

Cheers!

Vern

The Most Motivational Man On the Planet (IMHO)

I met Alfred, a United Kingdom native, a few years back on the stairs leading up a limestone mountain. One thousand two hundred and thirty seven steps up a mountain, to be exact. I was walking fast up, he was running down faster. I had seen him a couple of times before and hadn’t said anything to him. This time I couldn’t resist.

“How fast you get up to the top today?” I asked, almost afraid he’d tell me a time that was faster than I did. I had no idea how old he was, but he was definitely over sixty years of age, and his hair was whiter than the clouds floating above our heads. I had climbed those stairs hundreds of times by then. It was my favorite place to exercise for the previous three years.

“About 17 minutes, not very fast today, just a slow day. I was up yesterday and took it at a good pace,” he answered.

HOLY WHAT? Now I was definitely afraid to ask what a good pace was. Seventeen minutes? My GOD! After I spoke with him, I was sure he was seventy. He was thin as a rail, same height as me – 5’11”, and apparently fitter than any senior citizen I’d ever seen in my life. I’d been walking up the steps for years and I’d finally got down to 12m 25s to the top. It’s a 280 meter vertical climb (about 900 feet). It was super hot the day I saw him. It was 98°F for sure. The humidity was always through the roof – I’ll guess 80%.

He didn’t seem particularly beat that day I first spoke with him. He smiled, joked, laughed, and said we’d talk more next time as he had somewhere to be. As he continued running down the stairs I stared, dumbfounded. I couldn’t help feel like I’d just met the first athletic mentor I’d ever had. I mean, the guy was PURE AMAZING.

Today Alfred is 75 years old. After a bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer he is back on the steps and climbing, hitting the heavy bag at the gym, and walking kilometer after kilometer on the beach near where he lives in Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand. Recently he completed a stretch of 7 days out of 8 in a row climbing those same steps.

The guy is a legend.

A couple of years ago he did the Malacca 12-Hour Walking Race in Malaysia. He placed 16th out of 300+ competitors, OVERALL. All age groups. He made it 50 kilometers in under 8 hours, just walking.

Though it isn’t often I have days where I don’t feel like going out to run at the park or mountain trail, or climb the stairs, when I do I think of Alfred and how he’s kicking life in the ass daily.

It’s my long-term goal to be climbing the steps up this mountain when I’m 75… 90. I want to be doing the stair climbing races in Bangkok, and other major metropolitan cities across the globe when I’m his age. Just like he is. He has done the Banyan Tree Vertical Marathon in Bangkok, Thailand for the past six or seven years in a row now. He places higher than many kids in high school, that should be beating him by tens of minutes.

Alfred is really an inspiration. There is something awe-inspiring about someone 70+ years old that can still do things many young adults cannot do.

He’s an inspiration to me and everyone that happens to catch a glimpse of him as he passes them on the stairs going up or down. Some days he runs up the section from step 840 to 925! You should see people’s mouths drop open.

He’s the real deal. He’s had tremendous adversity in his life, and he’s overcome it all. I’ve been shooting video clips of him over the years, and I’m intent on making a video to try to capture a bit of his inspiring life.

Do you know anyone of age that is inspiring?

It’s magical, isn’t it? The idea that, at that age, you too could maybe be accomplishing amazing physical feats. You know what most people his age are doing? Sitting at home watching television and thinking about the days when they ran down the beach or rode their bike a few miles on a sunny day.

Seeing Alfred to it all the time gives me the idea that I can make that happen anytime I choose. I just need to keep it up, keep having fun for the next 30 years and I can be just like that. In 30 years he’ll likely be gone, but I’ll remember him as I’m climbing the hell out of the stairs and the mountain trail we have climbed together up another hill twice as high in elevation as the hill with the stairs.

Thanks Alfred, you’ve been the most amazing inspiration… you have eliminated my fear of the future… of an older Vern that can’t hardly walk. I will be able to walk. I will be able to jog at your age. I will be able to do the things you’re doing now, well into my 80’s. I’m sure of that now.

Cheers my friend!

Vern