11 Commandments For Running In The Rain
We can run indoors in a controlled environment or we can run outside where any weather show can happen. And rain is often a deal breaker, a point which will determine whether we stay in or go out.
Now, the most important fact about running in the rain is that you are going to get wet (surprise, surprise!). People sweat when running hence they get wet anyway, but when you run the rain you are likely to get wet a whole bit more.
So, now that the sacred truth has been revealed and is a mystery no more, the choice is between a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Assuming you are keen to get out there in the wet, let’s see how it can be done and what our options for running in the rain are.
1. Weather forecast is a good start
There could be a light, warm vertical drizzle, or maybe a horizontal whip powered by gale force winds but there could also be a chilling and biting mid-winter downpour.
If your run is scheduled for today, check to see if the rain will ease off at any stage and try and run then. If it’s coming down relentlessly check the temperature. Nothing wrong with a bit of a cooler during warmer weather but be prepared for different options.
Weather forecast can be pretty accurate and will give you a very good idea of what’s ahead of you. Or about to fall all over you.
2. Wear a simple hat with a beak
Let’s first confirm the fact that your elaborate hairdo will get messed up with or without a hat.
Hat with a beak (or simple running hat) is good to keep the rain out of your eyes but many runners will run without it on a warm rainy day. A hat is more of a helpful accessory than an urgent necessity if it’s not cold and you don’t wear glasses.
In the winter you should consider a waterproof hat to keep your head warmer and some people even wear a shower cap over a hat but that strictly applies to those who aren’t concerned about the latest fashion or those who are sure that they won’t be seen by another human on their route.
3. Visibility or ‘Look at me, look at meeee’ when running in the rain
Drivers have an added issue when the rain is falling, and that is reduced visibility. People tend to use cars more in wet weather and each driver has to focus on things coming from all sides.
Do not assume that they will see you the same way they see you on a sunny day, especially if you wear dark clothes. They may not see you at all!
I’m an urban runner, often crossing busy roads and will wear a top visible from the Moon. Not the prettiest shade of green, but the green that will get me noticed, a hi-viz green.
So, if you need to cross the road in heavy rain, stop, wait and make sure the driver gives you the signal. Then run.
4. Mind your (running) step
The surface will be wet, possibly slippery. That puddle may be deeper than it seems, and those leaves can make you slip and fall.
I always run slowly during the first minutes just to check and feel the grip. Even if it feels good and stable I am aware that there may be slippery slopes on the road ahead. I won’t overstride and won’t go too fast.
Surface may change during your run so keep your eyes down. If you venture from the road surface onto dirt tracks and grass, look out for the patches of mud but grass can also be very slippery.
5. Dress smart and wear less
There’s cooling rain and there is cold rain. Wear appropriate clothes based on the temperature.
In the summer you can wear as little as possible, but as the temperature drops you need to consider your options.
Even in the autumn I will still wear shorts and short sleeves. I will warm up during the run.
I will make sure that I never wear a cotton t-shirt. Cotton will get soaked, will get heavy, will stick to the skin, will make you feel cold and can trigger chafing (rubbing against the skin which can also cause bleeding nipples, and that should be enough to warn you against cotton).
I will use dri-fit short sleeve tops that wick away the moisture from my skin and keep me comfortable during the whole run. When it gets cold I’ll wear a long sleeve top and will put a light running jacket over it.
Remember, if the top is the best quality but is loose, when it gets wet it will still rub against the skin and can irritate. The way I work around it, I wear very tight tops that stick to my body but if it’s loose I will cover my nipples with plasters or simply use Vaseline.
That trick I learned the hard way, so let’s just leave it at that.
Some runners will put more clothes on to keep dry. The immediate thing that happens is you overcooking very quickly and getting wet from inside and outside. Even in the winter I wouldn’t run wearing more than a long sleeve dri-fit tech top and a light running jacket. I’d wear gloves to keep my fingers warm.
Anything more and I would start feeling very uncomfortable.
If you are feeling a bit chilly run faster as that’s guaranteed to raise your body temperature in minutes. If it’s really biting out there and the rain is piercing cold, you can put another layer on, which you can remove once you are fully warmed up.
6. Look after your wet running shoes
Rain and mud will make sure that your great shiny shoes will lose all that’s shiny about them. I always keep the pair that I’ve replaced for those special occasions. Let them get wet, not the shiny ones.
If they get well and truly soaked, do not dry them next to the heater or radiator (or open fire). They are likely to lose the shape, and if they change the shape by even a tiny margin they will not be your old perfect-fitting shoes any more.
Simply stuff them with crumpled newspaper or paper towels and don’t forget to remove the insoles if you have them. The paper will not only absorb the water and maintain the shoes’ shape but will also help get rid of that bad wet smell.
That’s an old trick and works perfectly well.
7. Choose your running socks wisely
Anything but cotton! I wear short (compressor) running socks and they tend to do the job. Consider using Vaseline to prevent blisters and, like with tops, wear wicking gear that will pull moisture away from skin.
8. Protect the electronics
It’s an old truth that electronics and water are not best friends.
If you really have to carry your phone along make sure you stick it into a waterproof pouch and keep it in the arm holder, or waist pocket or anywhere where it will be protected from the rain.
Then again, think how long you’ll be out there running. If you stay in the rain for hours, it might find the way into your phone.
I keep mine in the car, just in case I crash-land on water.
9. Don’t wear heavy and warm jackets
If you run in the rain in one of them you’d be in a steaming situation very quickly.
Ultra runners wear them when they stop for food, for example. When the body starts to cool down you need to maintain its temperature. But as soon as you hit the trail, the jacket comes off.
If it’s cold wear a lightweight waterproof jacket. It doesn’t breathe well but it keeps the rain out although you are likely to get very sweaty very soon.
If it’s warmer out there, think of an ultra lightweight running jacket. Some runners will simply use a large black rubbish bag as a rain shield. For those who are into fashion, I’d like to recommend a smaller, more colourful version.
They both do the job anyway and will get you noticed, if that’s your thing!
10. Avoid the sparky
Any type of rain that I should avoid running in?
Yes, the one that comes in the package with thunder and lighting. That’s where pleasure is replaced by common sense and safety. You don’t want to be caught out running on a wet grassy surface next to a tall tree in the area bashed by lighting.
That’s where we are going back to the weather forecast. Avoid storms and high winds at all costs. Go inside, stay inside. Run under the rainbow once it’s passed.
11. Get dry as soon as you finish your run
Getting dry and changing into dry clothes as soon as possible is what we need to do after a wet run, especially during colder weather.
I time my rainy runs so that I run in my area and finish at my front door. From there to a warm shower there’s only a few steps. If I go for a long run away from home I will have dry clothes in my car. Shoes, socks, tops, towel, everything.
The moment you stop running in the cold and wet weather, your body temperature will start lowering rapidly. Remaining in wet gear is not an option, you need to get changed and stay warm.
Those of us who always run outdoors don’t see weather conditions as a notable deterrent (except for the hurricanes, that’s where I draw the line). For those of you who are still deliberating, please note that rain can be very enjoyable and its rhythm can have a pretty calming effect. Your run can leave you in an elevated state where you will finish feeling better than when you started. Rain is good for your skin as well. And it cools you down! Many runs are laborious because of higher temperatures, and a cool shower is guaranteed to fix that. Your heart rate is likely to be lower than in the warm weather which means you’d be able to run faster at less effort.
Still thinking? Give it a try!!
I hope that sharing my story, and what I have learned along this journey, will inspire you to get started and to keep going. To keep striving and being the best you can be. In running and in life.
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