Rainy weather doesn’t mean you have to take your runs inside. “I always suggest to runners that they should take advantage of opportunities to run in the rain,” says DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate Cathy Connor, an eight-time Boston Marathon competitor with 29 completed marathons to date. “Not only does running in the rain build mental toughness, but you’ll feel more mentally prepared if it does rain on race day, since most races are not canceled due to wet weather.”
With that in mind, try these valuable tips to make sure you’re prepared for running when the conditions are anything but dry:
WEAR A HAT WITH A BRIM
A hat will keep a bit of heat in your body and will also keep the rain off your face, so you can see, even in a downpour. Synthetic materials are the best option as they won’t get heavy after getting wet.
Select outer layers that are very bright or light-colored and have reflective strips, since running in the rain often means poor visibility.
DRESS FOR THE CONDITIONS
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 moisture-wicking technical fabric and avoid cotton. Your outer layer (jacket or vest, depending on temperature) should be breathable and water-resistant. Don’t wear a waterproof rain slicker because it will trap moisture and heat.
SHORTS ARE USUALLY FINE TO WEAR
If you want to keep your legs warm and protect them from the elements, apply petroleum jelly on your quads and hamstrings.
DRY OUT YOUR SHOES
When you get home, wash your race gear right away and dry out your wet running shoes. A great way to dry out running shoes is to stuff them with crumpled balls of newspaper. This helps in keeping their shape, while the paper draws moisture away from the shoes. Don’t put them in the dryer or in front of a heater — that can shrink them or warp their shape so they will no longer fit you properly.
Chafing can happen during any run, but it can be much worse if you’re wet from the rain. If you’re running long distances, apply petroleum jelly liberally on parts of your body where you would normally chafe or get blisters such as your feet, inner thighs, underarms, sports bra lines (women), and nipples (men).
WEAR OLD RUNNING SHOES AT RACE START
If you’re running a race, keep your race shoes and socks in a plastic bag while waiting at the start. Find out if the race has a gear check-bag option. If so, check your old shoes in your gear check bag and put on your race shoes and socks right before you head to the starting line. If it has stopped raining, you’ll be able to run the race in dry shoes and socks.
PROTECT YOUR ELECTRONICS FROM GETTING WET
Store electronics, such as your cell phone or iPod, in a sealable plastic bag or a waterproof carrier. Or just leave them at home.
USE A GARBAGE BAG
If you have to wait outside in the rain before the start of a race, a big trash bag with armholes and a neck hole cut out can help you stay dry. Or try a disposable rain poncho. You can take it off and throw it to the side once you get moving.
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. Plus, it’s good preparation in case you ever have to run a race in the rain.
DON’T RUN DURING THUNDERSTORMS
While running in the rain is perfectly safe, move your run indoors if there are thunderstorms in the area. Getting your run done is not worth the risk of getting struck by lightning.
SEE IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD MENTAL STRENGTH
Running in the rain will make you feel like a warrior. 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.
WATCH YOUR STEP
You should always be paying attention, but running in the rain means you need to be extra careful since the road or path is slippery. The key is to take smaller 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. Also be aware that painted lines on roads can be very slippery, so avoid them when you can.