It was absolute heaven.
Shortly before noon Sunday I headed out for my jog wearing running shorts, shoes, sleeveless exercise shirt, socks, and diving gloves. Even though the heavens had started a steady drip I opted not to wear a rain jacket.
By the time I crossed Industrial Park Drive it was a steady rain.
There’s something blissful about the smell of air being cleansed by falling rain filling your lungs as steady rain drops caress you face and arms. I’ve jogged in downpours where the rain literally stings you on a cold day. That is a good feeling but it is nowhere near the pleasure of jogging in a gentle rain.
Those who know me real well know that even if it was a torrential downpour I’ll head out for a jog. I’ve jogged in rain, fog, snow, and 100 degree plus heat. The same was once true with bicycling. I’ve only drawn the line at hail after two very painful bicycling experiences five years apart descending Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park. Being pounded with small slivers of ice while in a controlled, “slow” downhill descent at 15 mph on a rain-slicken road at 7,000 feet does make sure you realize that you’re alive but beyond that it is a real pain. The first time I got caught in hail the riding companion I was with kept his head up and didn’t slow down. When I caught up with him his sun glasses were dinged numerous times and he had bloody cuts on his lips.
I eschew rain gear when it is raining while on jogs of four miles or unless I’m heading to the gym for a group exercise class. The reason is simple. Supposedly breathable workout rain gear is anything but. I’m usually thoroughly soaked more by my sweat underneath the jacket than I would have been getting drenched in the rain.
While I love the rain and the pitter-patter of drops against window panes or pelting the roof — a wonderful advantage of having a flat-top roof with a slight pitch and no attic below — it is not the rain that drives me to jog.
I can tell you exactly how many days I have gone in the past 30 years without exercising — 26. That included having two hernia operations, recovering from slamming my knee into the pavement at 45 mph during a downhill bicycling accident creating a gash all the way down to the knee cap, and four severe gout attacks.
The bicycle crash led to advice from the emergency room doctor to stay off of it for a month. The next day George Scarmon — my physician at the time — told me different. He already knew I wasn’t taking the painkiller the ER doctor prescribed. Hs advice was “just don’t be stupid” and deal with the pain while making sure I listened to it.
Five days later I was back in a Jazzercise class albeit gingerly. Two weeks later I was back on the bicycle. And three weeks later I was grinding up a four-mile, sustained 7 percent grade in Death Valley.
The advice Scarmon gave me was the same my mother and grandmother did with non-physical challenges I encountered growing up — “deal with it.”
Grandmother would add little touches such as “don’t wallow in your self-pity.” Those six words are perhaps the best advice on how to frame your outlook on life.
I know from experience that sustained exercise every day can keep pain at bay and — when it reaches crescendos as it did in November and much of December when I was dealing with a twisted knee — it can help lessen it. Plus if you listen to your pain and adjust accordingly it can help strengthen things.
I get the need to “rest” but that can be accomplished through moderation and careful movements instead of just going comatose.
Still, I will have people ask why I don’t take a break. A neighbor asked just that Sunday adding the rain would have been a perfect excuse.
The reason is two-fold. In the past 30 years I’ve come to understand the human body was designed for movement and responds accordingly. Being active has far better consequences for your physical being than chilling out. Just as important — if not more so — is the positive mental aspects. It’s a time that’s devoted to myself and thinking nothing else but what my body was designed naturally to do which is give my muscles, ligaments, lungs, heart and more a good workout. A good workout cleans your pores with sweat, your mind of drivel, and your soul of poison.
Jogging in the rain makes it all the more refreshing.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.