How To Embrace The Rainy Run

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We’ve had a bit of rain lately in the Pacific Northwest—and that is a gross understatement. At this point, I feel that I am completely saturated and a little moldy. The endless rain was making me incredibly depressed. Luckily, running has a powerful effect on my attitude—even if I’m running in a ceaseless, soaking rain.

Running in the rain can be a beautiful experience. It can also make for a horrible, awful, wretched run. Some of that is your attitude, and some of that is the temperature of the day. Warm summer rain is usually more comfortable than a winter icy drenching. However, I had an epic run a few Superbowl Sundays ago. It was freezing rain outside, but I felt fierce and accomplished after six miles in it. Most of the time, it’s all in your attitude.

That being said, there are a few things you can do to make running in the rain a little less uncomfortable:

Wear a hat – Depending on the way the rain is blowing, a hat with a brim may be able to keep a lot of the rain out of your eyes. I find that the things I like least about running in the rain are: rain in my eyes and rain down the back of my neck.

When choosing a hat for the rain, pick one that contains mostly nylon. The rain will take longer to soak into the fabric. Cotton is the absolute worst fabric when wet. And it absorbs every ounce of moisture that it comes into contact with, making your clothes heavy and chafing potential high.

They even sell brimmed nylon hats that have a cape that covers your neck. I, personally, just put my jacket hood over my hat to keep my neck dry.

Sunglasses – Another method I have used to keep the rain out of my eyes is to run with sunglasses. Usually, if the rain is coming down sideways, I will pair the hat and glasses for added coverage. It doesn’t matter if the day is dreary and dim—you will look totally cool. The water will accumulate on your glasses, but a quick wipe off or shake every once in a while will help.

Waterproof yourself – I have not waterproofed any of my running gear, but there are sprays on the market that you can apply yourself to your clothes and shoes to waterproof them. These sprays can also be used when you have a good water-resistant running jacket that starts allowing too much moisture through.

Water-resistant jacket – Every runner should have a good, quality water-resistant jacket. I know, I know: They are super expensive. But they are worth every penny. If you are like me and hate spending that much money on one item, try looking at second-hand stores, garage sales, or on Craigslist or eBay. Sometimes you can find brand new things at less than half the price. And even if you go used, some careful cleaning will have it looking (and smelling) like new.

Gators – Gators are big in ultra-running, and for good reason. They keep mud, water, and rocks out of runner’s shoes while they are racing through trails. And they can help keep water out of the tops of your shoes if you are running in drenching rain.

Lubricate your chafey parts – Running in wet clothes is a great way to chafe or develop blisters. Make sure you lubricate with your favorite anti-chafing product. Check out my favorite here. The most obvious areas are inner thighs, armpits, feet, and nipples (for men).

Socks – When running in wet conditions, there is no better material for your feet than wool. Do not wear cotton socks, please. You will develop some nasty blisters. As mentioned above, cotton is the worst material for comfort when wet. It absorbs moisture and does not release it. Your feet will be wet, cold, and very uncomfortable.

There are lightweight wool socks for summer runs, so you don’t have to worry about hot and itchy feet. These are not your grandpa’s wool hunting socks. These are smooth, soft, and the perfect way to protect your feet.

Change out of your running clothes ASAP – If you managed to avoid chafing during your run, you may be in for it if you keep your wet clothes on for a while after you get home. Not to mention, you will have a hard time warming up once you cool down and start getting cold, and hypothermia can happen. Change out of your wet clothes as soon as you possibly can.

Take a warm shower or bath – If you have access to a shower or bath when you finish your rainy run, you should take it. Let the warm water bring your core temperature back up to normal, and it can soothe your muscles a bit at the same time.

A word of caution here: I your skin is icy cold, make sure the water is lukewarm. If your skin temperature is low you can feel like you are being splashed with lava when you get into hot water.

The most important takeaways for embracing the rainy run are: have a good attitude about it; pull out your sense of humor, dress for the temperature, and pretend like you are a kid again. A little rain never hurt anyone, and you may find that the rain is an enjoyable thing to run in.

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Liz Ward

Liz Ward is a running fanatic, avid reader, and amateur farmer. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband, three kids, and a small herd of animals.

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