Living in San Luis Obispo, CA is rough. I know, I know…who am I to complain about a sunny, 75 degree, ocean-in-my-backyard paradise? Hear me out. How in the world is one supposed to write blogs about inclement weather while living in a place like this? Inspiration level = zero. No firsthand experience, no rain-soaked selfies, and no comical stories to leave my audience completely enraptured with my publication. I can envision my severance check at this very moment.
Maybe I’m being slightly dramatic. Thankfully (for you and for the sake of my employment), I’ve lived elsewhere in the world and am not a complete stranger to precipitation. Although I don’t get regular opportunities to run in rain, I have enough experience to realize that runners must prepare strategically, dress appropriately, and run differently to make the most of wet conditions. Rain is a bother at times, but it can also be an adventure, a refreshing change, and a mental challenge to push through less-than-perfect circumstances. Here are ten tips from the ‘House to keep you running happily in the rain.
1. Adjust your workout. The first key to rainy day running is to plan a realistic workout. If you had originally scheduled a speed workout, switch it with a moderately paced run to prevent injury and avoid skewed times. Save your mountain top adventures for a sunny day, and instead run on less treacherous trails.
2. Choose quality footwear. Your shoes are the only thing standing between you and a slippery tumble, so choose wisely. The grooves in the outsole of your road shoe should be at least 1 mm deep to allow water to pass through and avoid losing traction. Trail shoes worn in wet and muddy conditions should have aggressive outsole lugs that dig deep into loose terrain. The upper of your shoes can withstand a little saturation, but if you prefer super dry feet or live in constant rain (Seattle, anyone?), you may choose to buy footwear made with a DWR coating or Gore-Tex. Just be aware that if water happens to get inside a Gore-Tex lined shoe through the heel collar, it may take longer to dry.
3. Wear smart socks. Shoes are your insurance against an embarrassing fall but socks are an investment in blister prevention. Any technical running sock will wick moisture away from your skin, which is helpful in standard conditions. In a downpour, your socks are bound to get wet, in which case your best bet is a thin sock that will repel water and dry quickly. Look at brands such as Drymax, whose socks are made with hydrophobic fibers that repel moisture at the molecular level. To prevent water from entering your shoes at the collar, check out the Gore X-Running Gaiter.
4. Don appropriate apparel. Think lightweight, water-resistant/proof, and moisture wicking. Avoid cotton at all costs, and unless temps are low, choose shorts over pants for the sake of less wet weight. Layering appropriately is key; choose a moisture wicking base-layer (preferably thin, if temps allow), and pair it with a water-proof or resistant shell. In addition, remember that rain can cloud a driver’s vision. So bring out your neon colors, reflective gear and clip-on lights, regardless of the time of day.
5. Protect against chafing. If you thought sweat-induced chafing was bad…rain chafe is worse. Prepare well with skin guards, anti-chafe cream or anti-chafe sticks by applying to targeted zones such as your feet, under arms and waistline.
6. Throw on a Hat. This is my personal favorite of all rain gear. A hat is so simple, yet the benefit of dry, clear eyes can’t be beat. Choose a hat that is lightweight, yet has a large enough brim to keep the top half of your face dry.
7. Hydrate! It’s easy to forget to drink water when you are surrounded by water. The droplets on your skin are not only rain, but also sweat, so remember to replenish by taking in sufficient fluids.
8. Keep your electronics alive. You know that iPhone 6 you just got? It doesn’t like the rain. Be sure to protect your electronics by placing them in a waterproof case, a plastic bag, or simply leave them at home. All running watches carried at Running Warehouse, including GPS and HRM models, are water-resistant and safe for running in the rain. However, this does not mean they are safe to take in the pool or shower.
9. Avoid danger. While I encourage you to run in the rain whenever possible, there are situations you should undoubtedly avoid. Weather warnings, strong winds, hurricane conditions, lightning storms, and any sort of high elevation are all conditions and locations to avoid.
10. Practice post-run responsibility. Once you return from your rainy day adventure, there are still a few things to consider. Care for your body by drinking water, and dry off to avoid getting chilled. Care for your shoes by stuffing them with paper or towels to soak up the water and help them retain their shape.