Just Add Water


The alarm goes off.  You roll over, rub your eyes, and see your running clothes all laid out, ready for your morning run.  And then you hear it:  The steady sound of rain on the roof.  Moment of truth.  What do you do?

If you are like I was during my first year or so of running, you roll over and go back to sleep.  If you are slightly more motivated than that, you jump on the treadmill or find a different workout for the day.  But I’d like to make a case for Option C:  Go for a run anyway.

It’s true, back then I totally avoided running in the rain.  Imagine my surprise when, the day of one spring 5K rolled around and … gasp … The forecast called for RAIN?!?  What do I wear?  What would happen?  It seems funny now, but at the time I was in a little bit of a panic.  As to what would happen, the answer was simple:  I got wet.  (Oh, and I PR’d along the way.)

From that day on, I realized it was silly to avoid running on rainy days.  In a place like Cleveland, it was a completely impractical way to train.  Juggling my schedule around days that were “nice enough” to run outside totally messed up any semblance of a training plan I tried to follow.

And besides, running in the rain was actually kind of, well, FUN!  It’s a little bit like splashing in puddles when you were a kid.  Even a slow run in nasty weather gives you a sense of accomplishment, a victory in the battle of man vs. nature.  The sound of the rain hitting the leaves is like a round of applause saying, “Good for you!  You got moving when you could’ve stayed in bed!”  And you will probably get nods of mutual respect from any other runners you pass.  A little street cred, if you will.

Want to get in on the action?  Here are my top tips for rainy day runs:

* Dress for the Weather

Plastic Bag

I put the paper with my workout plan inside a plastic bag, so I can review it during my workout without it getting soaked.

Cotton + Water = Miserable.  Now is the time for tech fabrics that wick moisture, and preferably a waterproof outer layer that still breathes.  Don’t forget a hat with a brim or a visor, to keep the rain out of your eyes.  If you tend to chafe, wet clothes will make it worse.  Vaseline or BodyGlide is your friend!

* Adjust Your Goals

You may not be able to go as fast or as far as you’d planned.  Your wet clothes and soggy shoes can weigh you down.  The rain could be accompanied by a lot of wind resistance.  Don’t fret if you don’t quite hit your goal.  Make the best of it, and realize that anything you accomplish is still more than if you’d never gotten out the door in the first place.

* Misery Loves Company

Schedule your workout with a partner or group.  You are less likely to flake out on a run if you have a friend or two waiting for you.  You will definitely find out who in your posse is hard-core by asking them show up “rain or shine” … and you won’t want to be the wimp who begs off!

* Prepare For the Finish

Have a hot beverage ready at the end of your run, perhaps a Thermos in the car.  Get out of your wet clothes as soon as possible.  At the very least have a blanket or towel to wrap up in, plus a dry pair of socks and shoes, for the drive home.


My shoes and jacket hanging out by the heat vent after a soggy morning.

* Take Care of Your Shoes

Place some loosely crumpled newspaper inside your damp shoes.  It will help absorb the moisture, and you may need to switch it out for fresh paper a couple of times.  Find a warm, dry place to leave them.  Hopefully you have a couple of pairs of running shoes, so you can take them out of rotation for a day or two until they’re back to normal.  (Not a problem for most runners, who tend to be shoe-a-holics anyway.)

So the next time you hear the pitter patter of rain drops on your window, don’t despair.  Take your usual run and just add water!




The author is a wife, mother, and solidly average “middle of the pack” runner from Northeast Ohio.  Check out her new Twitter handle @MileageMama:  https://twitter.com/MileageMama


6 responses »

  1. I have always opted out of running in the rain mostly because in Miami, that rain doesn’t just come down super hard but it also brings way too much heat with it!

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