Running in the Rain

After getting out of work, going to a few personal meetings, the city’s Planning Commission meeting and finally getting home around 7:30 pm tonight — it was time for Mark and I to hit the pavement for our 3 mile run together. Since he works in the afternoon/evenings we rarely have the chance to train for our races together. During the winter months we only have one treadmill and during the rest of the year he runs in the morning before work and I run after work later in the evening. So, on his days off we love to take advantage of having time together and we try to always do our runs together. Training for a race — especially a long race — can be incredibly boring to do alone, so we love being able to run together once or twice a week.

Tonight as we as set out on our run the sky was dark and grey and a few light sprinkle were falling from the sky, but the temperature was perfect.  Not to cold — not to hot — not humid!  We took off at a great training pace and 25 minutes later — half way through our run — the sky opened up and it started to rain.  Wait, not rain — it started to out right down pour! Being 1.5 miles from home we had no choice but to finish the run.  It was a rough 1.5 miles since most of it was uphill meaning we had the water flooding down the sidewalks at us the whole way!  Once we got home, changed our clothes, I started to talk to him about how important it is to run in the rain when training for race.

Mark and I after our run in the rain tonight!

Mark and I after our run in the rain tonight!

I explained that for the first two years I ran I would avoid running in the rain, opting to run on the treadmill instead — that is until one year ago (to the week) when I was in Nags Head, NC for the Flying Pirate Half Marathon with my Dad.  I was hoping for amazing weather for our beautiful run along the coast line and instead I had the worst 13.1 mile race of my life in the rain! The whole 13.1 miles it rained. From sprinkles to down pours we experienced it all that day! Ugh! Talk about being disappointed! I can tell you from personal experience that running in the rain is different! Very different — and I looking back I really wished I had forced myself to run a few training runs in the rain to be better prepared.

Most races will not cancel the race for rain.  Now, extreme weather is a different story; however, in three years I have been running I have never had a race cancelled due to weather **knock on wood**! Any runner will tell you that should prepare a little differently and plan ahead if you are going to be running in the rain. So here are some tips for running in the rain:

Dress in Layers if it’s Cold Outside
If it is very cold (to me that is anything under 50 degrees!) and rainy, you may need to wear a couple of layers. The most important layer is the one closet to your body. Make sure you wear a shirt that is made of technical fabric which will wick water and sweat away from your skin. Your outer layer should be a wind and water resistant jacket or vest. You should try to avoid wearing a waterproof rain coat because it will trap moisture and heat and that’s not good!

Wear a Hat or Visor With a Brim
A hat of a visor with a brim can be your best friend while you are out on a rainy run. It will keep the rain off your face and out of your eyes so you can see! From experience this is a must!

Do Not Overdress
Let’s be honest — most runners would believe that the first thing they need to do when running in the rain is to layer up; however, this is one of the biggest mistakes that runners make when heading out into the rain for a run. Wearing more layers will not keep you warm or dry. Unless you are running with an umbrella (or like my husband suggested — a golf cart cover) over your head, you are going to get wet! Trust me! If you have a ton of layers on you will just be wearing more wet and heavy clothes. In Nags Head I tried dressing in a pirate costume over my running clothes and by .50 miles I had to stop to take off the costume because it was so heavy and wet from the rain. I felt 20 pounds lighter once I took it off and dumped it on the side of the road! Make sure you dress for the temperate as if it were a dry day!

Be Visible
This is a important point for anytime you are out running; however, it is specially important for rainy days when a drivers visibility is impaired. Make sure you select an outer layer that is brightly colored or has reflective strips on it. I have specific clothing that is florescent yellow which I have bought specifically for this purpose.

Use a Garbage Bag
If you are anything like me, you could be rolling your eyes here! The first time I heard about using a garbage bag was when I was about to run the Marine Corps Marathon a few years ago and it was cold and windy. I thought it was a crazy idea and told my Dad no way would I be seen with a silly garbage bag over my head! The next morning as I stood there freezing and he was protected with his garbage bag, I swear I would have done anything to have my own! If you have to wait outside in the rain, the cold or the wind before the start of a race, a big trash bag with armholes and a neck hole cut out of it can help you stay dry and warm. You can always take it off and throw it to the side once you get moving and warm up!

Wear Old Running Shoes at the Start or if Training
If you are running a race, keep your race shoes and socks in a plastic bag while you wait for the start. You can 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 by then, you will be able to run the race in dry shoes and socks. If gear check is not offered for your race and you have a decent pair of old running shoes with some miles still left on them — wear your old shoes for the race or training run. This will ensure your nice pair of running shoes remain that — a nice pair!

Try to Prevent Chafing
If you are running longer than three miles let’s be honest — you have probably experienced chafing at some point! (Don’t worry, I will talk about chafing at a later date!) If you are going to run in the rain make sure you spread Body Glide (or Vaseline, icky) 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).

Training in the Rain Will Prepare You — Mentally
Running in the rain is tough — mentally tough. Your feet get wet, your head is soggy, your clothes are soaked to the bone — it is tough.  Finishing a run in the rain is a test of a runner’s ability to mentally push themselves towards their goals and finish what they started. It is great for a runner to experience the mental challenges of running in the rain while on a training run and not on race day! 

So, now I will leave you with one of thought which insipres me as a runner: “I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.”  –Arthur Blank

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