It doesn't rain often here in San Diego. Thankfully, when it does, we are usually given enough time to prepare well. And because we can prepare, rain doesn't have to force your run indoors. Here are some tried-and-true tips for running well in the rain.
- Wear layers. It's really tempting to overdress for a rainy run because the instinct is that if it's wet and damp, it's probably cold. But it is really easy to overheat when running in the rain because of the humidity. Dress as if it were a dry day. A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to how you feel when you first leave for your run. If you feel a little on the cold side, you're in good shape and will most likely not overheat on your run. Another starting point is following the "20 degree" rule: dress as if it's 20 degrees warmer than it actually is when you get started.
- Wear moisture-wicking fabrics. Anything that touches your skin should be moisture-wicking. Cotton will absorb moisture like a sponge, which will add weight and feel uncomfortable. It can also lead to chafing.
- Prevent any chafing by wearing a product designed to repel moisture away from the skin such as Body Glide, Aquaphor, Vaseline or Sports Shield by 2Toms. Apply these products to any place known to chafe such as between the thighs, under the arms, under the sports bra line and especially the feet. Your feet will be trudging through some puddles and are especially prone to blisters when running in the rain.
- Invest in a good, lightweight jacket or shell. Look for a jacket that is water and wind resistant. These jackets will have sealed seams that will help keep water out when it's raining. Be sure the jacket is breathable to prevent you from overheating. Look for ventilation holes under the arms and on the back of the jacket.
- Stay visible. With the decreased visibility and light due to rain clouds and/or fog, staying visible to drivers is a top priority. Items such as vests, flashlights, blinking lights, reflective strips, arm bands, etc. are no guarantee of safety, but they are your best tool for drivers to see you as you run. Another option is items from the Brooks Nightlife line. These brightly colored clothes are the first thing the eyes see and will help you get noticed by drivers more so than just lightly-colored clothing. They also have plenty of reflective material (on both the front and back of the apparel) that will be illuminated when light hits it.
- Wear a hat with a brim. This will help keep the rain off your face and out of your eyes. Just like your clothing, the hat should be a moisture-wicking hat and not your standard baseball cap. That baseball cap will absorb a ton of moisture and weigh 1,000 lbs by the end of your run.
- Protect your electronic items. While you shouldn't be running with music, you should be running with your phone in case of emergency. Place your phone in a zip-lock bag or a water-proof carrier and place it in your pocket or wear a belt such as the ultra-light SPI Belt.
- Pay attention to your running form. Shortening your stride will help prevent stumbles and falls. It's especially important to pay attention while going down hills as the roads can be slick and losing your footing is more likely to happen. When in doubt, take a walk break.
- After your run, be sure to place balled-up newspaper into your shoes so they keep their form while drying and quicken the drying process. Never place running shoes in the dryer as the materials used to make the shoes will break down much faster.
- Never run in unsafe conditions such as thunder and lightening or heavy downpours. No run is worth getting hurt.
Running in the rain doesn't have to be miserable. With enough preparation and awareness while running, a romp through the rain is actually fun.