Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summer running: what about thunderstorms?

Inspired by a twitter conversation last night:

It's a good question - when it comes to summer running, how do you handle it when there's a thunderstorm risk in the forecast but you were really hoping to get in a run? The obvious answer is treadmill it, but what if you don't have a treadmill (or just really hate them)? Since I don't have one this is my method for figuring out if it's OK - for me - to run when the weather forecast says there might be storms. I'm not a weather expert by any means, this is just my method. Running during a storm watch is a calculated risk, I am not a professional, stay safe, etc.

1. Active thunderstorms in the area, I wait until later. The Weather Network hourly forecast can be really helpful for this, as you can see when the storms are most likely to move past. I also pay attention to if there's currently a thunderstorm watch (chance of a storm developing) or a warning (active storm activity has been spotted). Warning = no go, full stop.

2. If there's a watch, I check the weather radar to see what's going on. The local radar for me is the King City weather radar, and it shows active precipitation as it moves across the province. Rain/storms here almost always approach from the west, and if you are familiar with the radar you can get pretty good at judging how much time you have before a band of rain/possible storm arrives at your location. This works in the winter for snowfall, too. I use this all the time when I'm planning a lunch run on a day with rain in the forecast - I can often spot windows of opportunity to run with minimal rain by paying attention to the weather radar.

The storms almost always move from the left to the right over our area. This map shows a good window of opportunity to get in a short run, as the last storm has moved over Toronto and the next one will take probably an hour or so to arrive in the Hamilton/Burlington area.

3. Revise my routes. If there's a thunderstorm watch, I will run loops around my neighbourhood so I can get home quickly. This also means I'm running through a residential area, and can take cover on someone's porch if necessary. It's boring to run loops and my neighbourhood has too many damn hills, but I don't want to be caught 30 minutes from home if a storm rolls in.

4. Eyes on the sky. Since I know storms almost always approach from the same direction, I pay attention to what's coming. If I'm listening to music or a podcast and I see dark clouds moving in, I shut that down so I can listen for thunder.

5. Sometimes, I just have a bad feeling and decide not to run. Nothing wrong with paying attention to that gut instinct. One missed run isn't going to ruin your training!

So, that's about it. I'm usually pretty good at judging if I can get in a run or not, although it doesn't always work perfectly - this morning I got soaked when the first line of rain arrived a little sooner than I thought it would based on the weather radar, and I was about a km from home when I heard a rumble of thunder and ended up doing a fast finish run to get inside.

Oh, and if you think it's going to rain and you are prone to chafe? This stuff becomes very important. Unfortunately the only way to know which body parts are chafe-prone is to experience it at least once. I learned a painful lesson at the Toronto Women's Half Marathon a few years ago...

1 comment:

  1. This is very good advice Emma! All these well-laid plans are subject to the whims and temper of mother nature.

    I know we're supposed to train in any weather because race day could be any weather, but they cancel races during thunderstorms (for obvious reasons).