Unless you live in the desert or run only on treadmills, you’ll end up running in the rain at some point in your life. I’d venture to say that most people don’t like to do it, but maybe that’s just because they don’t really know how to do it properly. I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but living in Washington State, where it rains so much we’ve been endowed with the moniker “The Evergreen State,” I know a thing or two about running in the rain. And I actually enjoy it!
Here are my tips on how to run in the rain:
1. Wear the right jacket.
This is common sense, but you should wear a well-constructed and designed jacket that will protect you from the rain. Just because you have a waterproof running jacket doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best one to wear for a rainy run.
I own several rain jackets and favor the ones that aren’t waterproof because they’re lighter and breathe better than my waterproof one, which usually makes me overheat. Although a heavy rain will soak through lighter, water-resistant jackets, a little dampness never killed anyone. Hoods on jackets are a matter of personal preference, but I think they’re unnecessary. When I wore them as a newer runner, they just made me overheat.
2. Mind your head.
Wearing your jacket’s hood (if you even have one) isn’t going to cut it in the rain. Unless you enjoy the feeling of rain streaming down your face, or don’t mind having raindrops obscure your vision, wear a cap. I prefer technical running caps to regular baseball caps or trucker hats because they’re lighter, won’t absorb as much water, and dry faster.
If you have long hair, braid it. Running in the rain + long hair = terrible tangles. Braiding your hair prevents tangles from occurring.
3. Leave your new shoes at home.
I own more than one pair of running shoes and rotate them so I don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day. When it’s rainy, I wear the older pair of running shoes rather than my newer shoes. Running through puddles won’t ruin a pair of running shoes, but I think they’ll shorten their lives, particularly if they’re dried incorrectly (to be safe, stuff your wet shoes with newspaper so they retain their shape when drying). Wearing an older pair of shoes–that is, those that don’t have too many miles on them and are still safe to wear–means you can run without having to worry about avoiding every little puddle in your path. And if you decide to run the following day and the rain’s no longer an issue, you can trade out your older shoes and wear your newer, dry shoes .
4. Protect your phone.
If I run solo, I usually listen to music. And when I run with music, I usually bring my iPhone. I don’t like the bulky and expensive cell phone holders that so many runners use–I already have enough junk clogging my running-gear drawer. Stowing my phone in my pocket and expecting it to stay dry also really isn’t an option, because if it’s pouring, the rain will soak through my pockets.
So what’s my solution for protecting my phone on a rainy run?
A cheap Ziploc baggie! I have used them for years and they work like a dream. They never let water in to damage my phone, and the thin plastic allows me to manipulate the touchscreen without any issues.
5. Dress and act like you’re the Invisible Man.
Motorists don’t see pedestrians or cyclists, they see other motorists. They’re watching out for other cars, not for the people who are sharing the road with them. Last year, I was hit by vehicles two times by motorists who could not have missed seeing me if they had actually tried. I was standing right in front of their stopped vehicles, mere feet away, when they decided to accelerate forward. They simply did not see me. And this pedestrian-visibility problem is even worse when it’s raining.We need to be more proactive in our safety when we use the roads and sidewalks. Expect that motorists can’t see you; assume that you are invisible.
If it’s daytime, wear at least one item of neon or bright clothing. If it’s dark, wear light-colored or even fully reflective clothing as well as flashing lights on your front and rear. Make sure you establish eye contact with a motorist before crossing in front of his vehicle. I don’t rely on just what I think is eye contact–it can be deceptive (one of the drivers who hit me last year looked right into my face before he accelerated). Therefore, I usually wave at the motorist and wait for a wave back before I cross. Be especially wary of turning vehicles; they are more likely not to see you, even if you’re using a crosswalk. And it should go without saying, but never dart out into traffic.
6. Suck it up.
Yes, it’s raining. It might even be pouring. But you’re a runner! You’ve run through pain, right? You may have run a half-marathon (ouch!), a marathon (yee-owch!), or even an ultra (holy mother of runners!), so running in the rain is really nothing. You’ll get wet, but so what? Water dries. Some of my best runs (and races) have been in the rain. Running in the rain just makes you an even tougher runner.
What is your favorite tip for running in the rain (and enjoying it)?