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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Running in the Rain

There are many things that come our way on race day that we have ZERO control over.  And the weather is one of the biggest of these.  There is nothing we can do about Mother Nature - we could get a 90 degree day in April in Boston, or a freezing cold day in DC in October.  Or a torrential down pour in New Jersey in April.  It happens and that is just how it goes.

I used to check the weather before my training runs, and if rain was predicted -- I would dread it.  Sometimes I would run on the treadmill instead to avoid a miserable wet run.  Or I would move my run to a different day, one with a better forecast.  Then race day would come and I would panic about the weather if it wasn't *perfect* because I didn't have experience dealing with it.

This past year all of that changed for me.  I wanted to become a better runner and if I was committed to doing that, I knew I needed to toughen up and face the weather -- WHATEVER it was (unless it was ice, I draw the line at ICE).  It would make me more prepared for what might come my way on Race Day.

After many runs in the rain and the cold, and in the heat and the humidity - I am no longer afraid to run in the rain - I actually love it.  I am not afraid to run in the cold - I MUCH prefer it over the heat.  I have faced strong winds and fought against them - I don't love running into the wind, but I am getting better at it.  Rainy runs build character - and they make us stronger and tougher.  If we wake up on race day and it is raining and cold, we can rest assured that we know how to handle it - because we already have.  We've been there, done that.

rainy runs make me happy
I've figured out how to make my rainy runs and races as comfortable as possible for myself - even enjoyable.  I never regret getting myself out there, once it's done.  I feel more accomplished than ever when I make it through tough conditions like that.

Here are some tips for a rainy run or race:

Keep the rain out of your eyes.  Wear a hat with a brim, and maybe even also sunglasses. Doing this will help you see better because the rain will be off your face, and it will also keep you from tensing your facial muscles because you won't be squinting to keep the rain out of your eyes.

Lube up!  Body Glide is your friend for any run, and especially for a wet one.  Wet socks create friction, which means more likelihood for blisters.

Stay dry until you start.  If you can get under shelter before you start running, DO.  You don't want to begin the run or race already soaking wet if you can help it.  If you have to stand in the rain before running, wear something disposable and waterproof beforehand and take it off right before you start running.  A large trash bag works.  Or, if you have an old rain coat you don't need anymore, wear it to the Start and then toss it.  Most races collect discarded clothing and donate it to charity.

* Wear the right clothes.  Just because it's raining doesn't mean you are going to be freezing necessarily.  You can still overdress and get hot in the rain!  A waterproof jacket is helpful for training runs and track workouts in the rain.  Wear layers and dress for the temperature.

Plan ahead for the end of your run.  Have dry, warm clothes and a towel ready for yourself at the finish or in your car.  A dry top, bottoms and socks and shoes will ALL come in handy.  When you get home, take the liners out of your shoes to let them dry out. If it's a chilly day, light a fire in the fireplace and set your shoes by the fire to dry out as you sip hot cocoa or a delicious latte for recovery!

Bring your buddies with you if you can.  It's always more fun and more motivating to face weather like that with your buddies.  There are times when I know that if it weren't for them, I may not have made it to the track on a week night or out my front door before sunrise in weather like that.

*  Prepare yourself mentally and REMEMBER-- it could ALWAYS be worse! Cool, wet weather is leaps and bounds better than a heat wave like what everyone experienced in Boston last week.  You will not overheat in the cool rain.  Find the bright side.  If nothing else, this run or race will make you STRONGER.

If it is really dumping down, change your expectations of your performance. There will always be other races and opportunities to run a faster time. Be PROUD of yourself for getting out there and running - especially in those conditions! Most people probably woke up that day, looked outside and decided to sleep in.  Running on a rainy day takes GUTS and toughens you up. If it isn't the day for your fastest race, then think of it as solid training.  There is always something to be gained from every running experience, and SUCCESS doesn't always show up on the time on the clock.  Strength can be measured in a multitude of ways.

it's raining it's pouring and this mama's running
On that note, I have a 10 mile run planned for tomorrow morning at 5:30 and there is a 70% chance of rain!  Team Honey Badger doesn't care about that, though - so I've already laid out my clothes for the morning and will be getting it done in the rain.  Believe it or not, I'm really looking forward to it.  Rainy runs have a way of making me happy!


What about you - do you like running in the rain?  What tips would you add to this list?

12 comments:

Nice list, Jessica! Also I found out the hard way to always keep my mouth closed when running by moving cars...

Great job! I have learned to like running in the rain. it is pretty therapeutic! Although in Seattle I don't have much of a choice! I typically don't wear a jacket though - I find they tend to just get soaked and too hot. Proper wicking clothes are better. Just tonight I ran in a downpour and then some light rain. It wasn't tooo bad..

It rains 3 inches here ANNUALLY. No, that's not a typo.

So this rain stuff is not applicable to me. It would be fun though!

I live in Oregon, so unless you want to be in treadmill city, running in the rain is kind of a given. I agree, I like it. You can't get wetter than wet, right?

I take rain over heat any day. I wear sunglasses in the rain, it works. the one thing for me is slowing down because I run on sidewalk and it can be slippery

Great list! I rather run in rain then in humid and hot weather. That's a killer for me!

I live in Oregon and I am used to the rain, and even run in it, but I don't always love it! It does make me feel stronger and tougher though. It takes dedication to run no matter the weather...you go girl!

I overheard someone recommending skirts for runnin in the rain because the layer against the akin doesn't get wet. I like running in a skirt anyway, but that seemed like good advice for last week's soaker.

Growing up in Florida, I had my fair share of rainy runs. All of your tips are fantastic, especially the one about having extra, dry clothes immediately accessible. Here are some of the others:

1. If you have to run with electronics, use plastic baggies. There are some nice waterproof cases for iPods, iPhones on the market now. I really love running "naked" in the rain - no Garmin, no music, just the puddles and me!

2. I prefer to run in tighter clothes when I'm heading out into the rain. I don't always run in spandex and tight tanks, but if it's raining, I sport it from head to toe. There's nothing worse than clingy, soaking materials.

3. Put newspaper inside your shoes to help them dry out quicker and to prevent horrible odors.

those are awesome tips, meg! thanks so much for sharing :o)

Definitely agree with the tighter clothes suggestion. The closer to the skin, the less floppy and heavy material you have dragging you down. Once you're soaked, remember you can't get any wetter!

Running in the rain is my favorite becuase I don't bring a phone and I am more minimal so I usually start meditating while I run with rain falling on me experiencing the earth interacting with me while I run and live!

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