Rainy weather doesn't mean you have to take your runs inside! Most races are not cancelled because of rain, and it can be wise to take advantage of opportunities to run in the rain. Doing so builds mental toughness, and you'll feel more mentally prepared if it rains on race day. Try these tips to make sure you're prepared for running in the rain, whether it's for training or a race.
1. Wear a Hat With a Brim
A hat with a brim can be your best friend during a rainy run. It will keep the rain off your face so you can see, even in a downpour. Make sure you consider the temperature and other conditions when you choose your brimmed hat. If it's warm and rainy, wear a breathable one with plenty of venting so you don't overheat. If it's cold, rainy, and windy, choose a thicker hat and wear a fleece headband over it to protect your ears. A headband can also help keep it from blowing off in a gust of wind.
2. Dress in Layers If It's Cold
If it's very cold and rainy, you may need to wear a couple of layers. The most important layer is the one closest to your body. Make sure it's a technical fabric such as polypropylene or CoolMax, which wick water and sweat away from your skin. Your outer layer should be a wind- and water-resistant jacket or vest. Don't wear a waterproof rain slicker because it will trap moisture and heat.
3. Don't Overdress
Overdressing is one the biggest mistakes runners make when heading out for a rainy run. Wearing more layers will not keep you dry. Unless you're running with an umbrella over your head, you will definitely get wet. If you have tons of layers on, you will just be wearing more wet, heavy clothing. Dress for the temperature, as if it were a dry day.
4. Be Visible
Select outer layers that are very bright or light-colored and have reflective strips. Running in the rain often means drivers have poor visibility and they may be less likely to expect that runners are also out on the road.
5. Prevent Chafing
Chafing can happen during any run, but it can be much worse if you're wet from the rain. If you're running long, spread Body Glide or Vaseline on parts of your body where you would normally chafe or get blisters, such as your feet, inner thighs, and underarms to help prevent the chafing.
6. Wear Old Running Shoes Before the Race Starts
If it is raining before the start of the race, wear a pair of older shoes and socks and keep your race shoes and socks in a plastic bag. You can check these older items with your gear check bag and change into the your race set. Or, you can do the change right before the start of the race and discard the items near the starting line as many racers do with warmup gear. Some races collect these items for charity. If it has stopped raining by then, you'll be able to run the race in dry shoes and socks.
7. Protect Your Electronics From Getting Wet
Store electronics, such as your cell phone and iPod, in a ziplock bag or a waterproof carrier. Or just leave them at home!
8. Use a Garbage Bag for Races
You can make a rain poncho out of a big trash bag by cutting armholes and a neck hole. You'll be amazed at how much a basic trash bag will keep you dry and protected from wind (which is often a concern during rainy weather).
Use it to stay dry and warm while you're waiting in the starting area. Once you get moving and start to warm up, it's easy to rip it off and discard it. Be sure you put it somewhere safe so it doesn't trip up the other racers or become litter. You may want to wait to hand it over at the first water stop.
9. Don't Run During Thunderstorms
While running in the rain is perfectly safe, keep your run indoors if there are thunderstorms in the area. Getting your run done is not worth the risk of getting struck by lightning.
10. Watch Your Step
You should always be paying attention, but running the rain means you need to be extra careful since the road or path is slippery. The key is to take small steps and really pay attention to your footing, similar to how you would run on trails, knowing that there may be lots of roots, rocks, or branches you could trip over.
Try to avoid stepping in puddles as much as you can. Your running shoes and feet will get wet from the rain, but they'll get absolutely soaked if you step in a big puddle.
11. Change Out of Your Wet Clothes Immediately
You may feel warm when you first cross the finish line or finish your run, but make sure you change out of your wet clothes quickly. When you're wet, you're at an increased risk for hypothermia, a lowering of your body temperature.
If you're racing, bring an extra set of clothes to put in a checked bag (or in your car if it's easy to get to post-race) so you can change out of your wet race outfit into dry clothes soon after you cross the finish line. Your checked bag should be waterproof as it may not be stored in a sheltered area.
12. Carry Extra Socks in Your Running Belt
If you have some room in your running belt or fanny pack, stash an extra pair of socks in a plastic bag. You'll lose a little time stopping to change them, but a dry pair of socks will feel a lot more comfortable, and hopefully prevent blisters. This is especially helpful if it's raining and your socks get wet when you start running, but then the rain stops during your race or run.
13. Dry Out Your Shoes
When you get back from a wet run or race, take off your running shoes and stuff them with crumpled balls of newspaper. This helps the shoes keep their shape, and the paper draws moisture away from the shoes. Don't put them in the clothes dryer or in front of a heater—that can shrink them or warp their shape so they won't fit you properly.
The hardest part of running in the rain is often just getting started. Once you begin running and warm up, you may find that you actually enjoy it. As you slosh through the puddles and the rain is hitting your face, you're building your mental toughness and realizing that you can handle any challenge that comes your way.