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Running In The Rain | Safety, Gear, Benefits & Preparation

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Running in the rain is often an exciting activity, especially for runners who are used to extreme cold or hot weather runs.

But before you head out, there are a few considerations that will ensure your rainy run or race doesn’t become challenging. 

In our guide below, we’ll review some safety concerns, basic rain running gear needs, the benefits & challenges you’ll face, as well as tips in case a light sprinkle or heavy rain hits your next race.

Is it safe to run in the rain?

Running in light rain or a heavy downpour need not be dangerous or difficult. In fact, running in the rain may even be therapeutic. 

But, there are plenty of safety concerns to keep in mind. 

Thunderstorms should be avoided.

Your local weather forecast and radar should give you plenty of information early on. If there are thunderstorms in the area, take caution. We highly recommend postponing your run or choosing a different exercise method altogether to ensure your safety.

Keep an eye on the temperature.

When a storm front moves in, the temperature may drop significantly. It may even cause below-freezing temperatures, which when combined with rain can cause hypothermia.

If you get caught out in the rain during frigid temperatures, return home quickly and remove your wet clothing and gear. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket, take a warm shower and enjoy some hot food or drink to warm up your body temperature.

Know your running route.

Visibility will be low during bad weather conditions, so be sure to run a familiar route or familiarize yourself with the route and area.

It’s best to “have an out” – incase conditions worsen and you need to put a pause on your run.

Tips For Road Running In The Rain

  1. Roads and sidewalks will become slippery, so take caution by slowing your pace. Be conscious of where you step to avoid falls.
  2. Consider distance runs, rather than speed training. 
  3. Cars, bicycles, and pedestrians will all have low visibility. Choose bright color or high visibility gear that will make you stand out.
  4. Although flooding is unlikely, heavy downpours could cause puddles to become misleadingly deep. Try to avoid damaged or under-construction roads.

Tips For Trail Running In The Rain

  1. Slippery trails are not uncommon during rainy trail runs. Leaves, fallen branches, mud, and more can lead to spills, so watch your footing.
  2. Trail running shoes are a must-have. Traction, moisture-wicking, and drainage capability are all factors to consider when purchasing a good trail running shoe.
  3. Leave the headphones at home. It’s important to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings as tree branches can fall during bad weather.
  4. Consider running with a friend. The buddy system is a blessing when one of you gets injured.

What to wear when running in the rain?

There are multiple factors to consider when choosing running clothes for a rainy day. From controlling body temperature, moisture-wicking, preventing chafing and blisters, running socks, and of course, the running shoe options that will help you maintain performance.

Let’s go through them one by one so we understand the factors to consider before choosing the right gear for you.

Waterproof Shoes

First, consider water-resistant materials, like GoreTex, your best option for a rainy day running shoe. There may be tradeoffs like breathability and weight, but preventing blisters should be a top priority.

Also, when testing running shoe options, be sure there’s no slipping around the heel, outsole, or midsole and the insole provides enough comfort. Less traction on the road or trail will be worse if your shoe doesn’t fit properly. 

We like the Altra Lone Peak 5 and the Adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift R2 GTX, but we’ve also reviewed a number of other waterproof running shoe options here. 

Waterproof Socks

Don’t neglect your sock selection during rainy weather. There’s a chance they’ll get damp which can cause blisters. For some standout running socks, peruse our top picks here.

Running Shirts

Pick a bright or neon color running shirt to stay visible on the road or trail in tandem with the moisture-wicking capability that some brands have produced. Also, don’t neglect a long sleeve variation for extra warmth. 

Rain Jacket

A waterproof rain jacket is a fantastic addition to your running gear list, as it’s a versatile top layer that can keep you warm and dry and is light enough to be worn in the blistering sun to prevent sunburn. Our list of the best rain jackets is a great place to start.

Running Underwear

Tighty wighties just won’t cut it, especially if there’s a chance your underwear is going to get wet. That’s why a moisture-wicking base layer is a great anti-chafing element to your running gear. Here are our top running underwear picks to get you started.

Chafing Creams & Sticks

Vaseline, body glide, and Gold Bond Friction Defense are also great products to prevent chafing while on a run in the rain. We dive into multiple other anti-chafing products in our buying guide here.

Reflective Running Gear

For high-visibility gear, you can’t go wrong with reflective belts, laces, vests, visors, socks, or gloves. We covered a number of reflective running gear options in this buying guide.

What are the benefits of running in the rain?

There’s often a debate about whether running in the rain has any physical benefits. Some studies have shown that it may decrease exercise performance, and of course, increase the chance of injury.

But other anecdotal evidence poses questions surrounding the difficulties causing increased strain which may benefit performance.

There’s much to be studied yet, to identify the real physical pros or cons of running in the rain.

When it comes to the mental benefits of inclement weather training, many runners see it as a mental challenge worth the safety risks. Building mental toughness can help prove to yourself that you can perform under those pressures, giving you a mental edge when weather conditions are good.

Running A Marathon (or any race) In The Rain

Prepare Like A Pro

First, do your best to follow the advice of the race director, staff, and volunteers. Their job is to keep you safe on race day.

Next, stay dry and warm for as long as you can. This means warming up indoors, under shelter, or wearing a poncho or garbage bag to stay dry.

Remember, you can shed rain soaked layers during the race if you need to.

Third, prepare your post-race change into dry clothes. Your friends and family can have a gym bag ready for you, or review the specific race options in case they have lockers or tents to stow bags.

Be Realistic When Setting Race Goals

Every runner will need to embrace the difficulties of running in the rain and shift their goals to reflect the reality of the race conditions.

Let finishing the race, safely, be your primary goal.

Remember, even the best runners in the world don’t perform at their best when it’s raining.

Final Tips For Running In The Rain

Running in the rain can be both exciting and challenging. We happen to love it, as it breaks up the monotony of our weekly running regimen.

So take these steps to turn poor weather into a fun running experience;

  1. Be safe. Keep an eye on the forecast and temperature.
  2. Whether it’s a road or trail, know the route and area. And have an “out” in case of emergency.
  3. Wear proper shoes and clothes. Think; high visibility, temperature control, moisture-wicking, and traction.
  4. Embrace being uncomfortable and build your mental toughness.
  5. Be sure to consult your running coach for rainy day training plans. If you don’t have a running coach, join RunnerClick Pro for access to coaches, training plans, and a global community of passionate runners.

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