As triathletes, weíve all grown used to getting mocked on a pretty regular basis. We get mocked by schoolchildren yelling ďgo faster!Ē out the window of their school buses as they pass us out on our bikes. We get mocked by the locals in the towns we race in on Sunday mornings, who look at us incredulously through the dirty windows of a Dunkin Donuts at 6 a.m. as if weíd just landed from another planet (nevermind that theyíre the ones sitting in a Dunkin Donuts at 6 oíclock on a Sunday morning). We even get mocked by our own loved ones, who sometimes find our behavior a little eccentric (for example, I donít think itís all that crazy to run the 5 miles from a wedding to the reception in order to squeeze in a workout).
But I think itís fair to say that nothing mocks us as regularly, or as effectively, as the Weather. The Weather takes it as a personal insult that we try to plan a regular workout schedule without taking it into account. As a result, it will do everything in its power to make us pay a price. This is why, if your schedule calls for a hard bike ride on Wednesday morning before work, the Weather will see to it that Wednesday dawns with a sky right out of a Van Gogh painting, with swirling winds and freezing temperatures and hailstones the size of freewheels. And then, of course, 10:00 rolls around, and you out your office window, past the bottle of Comtrex on your desk, and see nothing but blue sky and sunshine. You can almost hear the Weather chuckling in the distance.
Luckily, however, we do have some limited ability to control the Weather. All we have to do is pack our rain gear. On those rare bike rides when we actually remember to bring our gear, this pretty much guarantees that it will be dry as a desert all day long. But if we donít, even if itís perfectly clear outside and weíre only riding three miles down the street to the bagel shop, a thunderclap will materialize out of nowhere right over our heads. Those ancient civilizations that tried to end droughts by doing that silly Rain Dance were wasting their time. All they needed to do was head out for a century ride and forget to pack their rain gear. Occasionally, even when you do have your rain gear, the Weather will start to drizzle just enough to get you to pull over and dig all your stuff out of your saddle bag. But the second you get all dressed up and climb back on your bike, here comes the sun, and youíve got to pull over and pack it all up again. The Weather will continue toy with you in this manner until its gets bored and turns its attention to other amusements, like drowning people in Bangladesh.
Then again, sometimes we contribute to our own Weather-related problems. For example, I donít know about you, but hereís how I determine how cold it is outside in the morning, and therefore how warm I need to dress on my run: I look out my bedroom window. As if I can tell 30į and sunny from 50į and sunny just by looking at it. Iím much too lazy to waste the 11 seconds it would take to call the Weather, or just step out on the balcony, so Iíve convinced myself that I have special extrasensory vision that can detect outside temperature just by looking at it.
And itís not as if Iím usually right. In fact, the evidence strongly suggests that I have no weather detection skills of any kind, because I guess wrong most of the time. Iíll leave the house in shorts and a t-shirt, and within seconds the wind chill will turn my exposed skin the color of raw salmon. Even though Iím only 10 yards from my front door, itís way too late to go back home and change. You canít let the Weather win. So you suffer through your run, your body slowly freezing part by part, including certain parts that you would really strongly prefer to remain unfrozen. I have been on runs where Iíve felt like the Everest mountain climbers in Into Thin Air, looking for a phone so I could call my family one last time to say goodbye.
But do I learn my lesson? The very next morning, itíll look pretty much the same out the window, and so Iíll think to myself that Iím not going to make that mistake again, and Iíll dress like Iím heading out on the Iditarod. And it will be about 115į in the shade. Iíll have to shed layers every quarter mile a bizarre and not particularly sexy aerobic striptease, and then drive the course afterward to retrieve all the articles of clothing Iíve hidden in trees and under rocks.
I will admit that part of this phenomenon might be a subconscious attempt to create an excuse for dogging it on my workout, because in my mind the intensity of a workout is inversely proportional to the nastiness of the weather. In other words, if youíve forced yourself to get outside for a run in some truly horrendous weather, you get ďworkout pointsĒ for that effort, which you can then use to downgrade the intensity of your workout. So, for example, a three-mile run at a leisurely pace in a driving rainstorm is equivalent to a five-mile interval run on a beautiful sunny day. This is a mode of behavior that sportsweather psychologists refer to as ďmeteorillogical reasoning.Ē Or they would, if there were such as thing as sportsweather psychologists. Which, clearly, there should be.