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Beginner’s Luck: Playing the Weather Game in Training

Meredith Atwood on the power of just showing up, even if the weatherman isn't predicting the ideal conditions.

“Beginner’s Luck” columnist Meredith Atwood on the power of just showing up, even if the weatherman isn’t predicting the ideal conditions. 

Any triathlete knows the feeling of doom when they look at the weather forecast for a long/important workout and see nothing but lightning bolts and sad shower clouds on the app. When I was training for my first Ironman in 2013, I would make alternative plans for such events—indoor trainer “parties” with friends for rides of 4-6 hours; treadmill-a-thons with my iPad and binge-watching Dexter. I was awfully quick to move my training right indoors—for fear of? Getting wet from the rain? Yes, precisely.

My coach always said, “You know, Meredith, it could rain on race day.”

“Yes,” I would say, “But today is not race day and I don’t want to ride in the rain. It’s dangerous, man!”

“You need to learn how to handle weather, lady.”

I knew he was right, but I was terrified of riding my bike in the rain. I didn’t want to run in the rain for blisters and shoes, and all of those things. Essentially, I was a total sissy about weather and I would welcome the excuse to not get out in the rain or cold.

Interestingly, the more I took my workouts indoors on days when the weather appeared to be imminent, I found that the rain and hail and snow actually never showed up. I would peer out the window and see nothing but sunshine and gorgeous weather. I recall a tough six-hour trainer ride before my first long race—how I started before the crack of dawn, but as the sun came up, it was beautiful outside, and continued to be so for the remainder of the ride. I got a little more perturbed as the morning went on, realizing that I had no one to blame but myself.

I should have just showed up.

Even now, I have noticed that the weather will look ominous, but I will pack my back or bike and go to the workout anyway. I rarely move my workout inside just because of the weather anymore. Because I have found that about 85% of the time, the weather is fine when I show up. Most of the time, I am also able to complete the workout even if the rain does visit from time to time. Other times, I experience a total miss—like today’s 10-miler, which was cut quickly short by the thunder, lightning and black clouds.

Regardless one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in triathlon training is that in tri and life, the weather person is not always correct, and oftentimes it pays to show up, grow up and do the workout regardless of the conditions. [Of course, hurricane and other potentially catastrophic weather warnings should not be ignored!] In most cases, show up and do is a great thing. The mental toughness factor is strong in training in tough weather. There is also a serious feeling of accomplishment to know you completed a hard workout in some tough conditions. It builds a real sense of “go me” and I can do anything—in the rain, in the sleet, with the sun, on my bike, on a trike—triathlete, I am.

More “Beginner’s Luck” from Meredith Atwood

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. You can download a free copy of the book here. She is the host of the new iTunes podcast, “The Same 24 Hours,” a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. Meredith lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children, and writes about all things at