Explore the Great (Wet) Outdoors

It has been a rough few days in the life of Lauren. With a weekend full of fun workout plans, I found myself at 12:30am Saturday in the midst of a full-on stomach virus.

Talk about a killer sneak attack. After six hours of sickness, another 24 hours of not eating solid foods or getting out of bed, I can firmly attest I haven’t felt that sick in a long time. Thanks to ginger ale, saltine crackers, Gatorade and many bad movies on TBS I am on the mend… but certainly to the detriment of any sort of physical activity that I may have wanted to do over the weekend.

Sunday evening – with solid food in my stomach, a body rested and re-hydrated, and looking back at 3 days of inactivity – I was really looking forward to my Monday afternoon meeting with my running partner.

Braving a rainy race day with my running partner at 2008 ING Ga Marathon.

Braving a rainy race day with my running partner at the 2008 ING Ga Marathon.

And then… apparently the weather forgot to ask my permission to explode on us today. So I have a choice – continue being a slug or run in the rain.

Now is the time for a lesson in tough running love – sometimes we just have to tough it out and run in the rain. Some folks can head to the gym, but if that is not an option for you, give the wet outdoors a shot. So harden up, put your big girl pants on, cowboy up, whatever you want to call it. It’s in the mid 70s today, so as long as we’re smart about it, and it’s not lightning outside, the rain won’t pose a serious threat.

And consider this… We never know what weather will befall us the day of a race. Sometimes we will be unlucky and precipitation will greet us at the start line. If we can conquer rainy runs while training, we will be more mentally and physically prepared for whatever comes our way on race day.

Here are some tips for running in the rain:

** Wear lightweight synthetic clothes – NO COTTON. Cotton will not wick moisture, will be very heavy as it collects the rain, and will chafe and blister. This includes socks!

** Give spandex a shot. If you’re comfortable with the idea, spandex shorts and tights are great for exercising in the rain. They don’t ride or droop when soaked, and they help prevent chaffing.

** Wear running shoes that are NOT water proof. Once the rain seeps in from the top, your shoes will take much longer to dry out (maybe a couple days). A ventilated running shoe will dry out quicker and be ready for your next run.

** Wear a lightweight hat made of synthetic material. It will keep the rain and wet hair out of your eyes.

** Leave the electronics at home. iPods and cell phones aren’t very water resilient.

** Use a product like BodyGlide, Chamois Butter or Vaseline on areas prone to chaffing – feet, thighs, etc. Prevention is key – apply before your run.

** Consider wearing a lightweight waterproof jacket. Specialty shops such as Fleet Feet, Phidippides, Big Peach and REI have running specific options that will provide breathability and rain protection, while being comfortable to run in.

** Avoid open roads – stick to sidewalks and pedestrian pathways to avoid the potentially dangerous mix of drivers + cars + slick roads.

** Start slow and warm up your muscles properly. Rain can bring a chill to the body at first.

** Change out of your wet clothes as soon as you finish to avoid getting sick (or making a big mess).


If rain turns into electrical storms, be smart and head indoors. If you’re feeling sick, definitely take the day off. But unless you are the Wicked Witch of the West, a little rain won’t make you melt. Who knows, you may even find you enjoy the adventure. I find running in the rain to be kind of peaceful and invigorating. And nothing beats the feeling of that post-run shower!

One comment Add your comment


May 3rd, 2010
12:47 pm

I was considering backing out of our run today. But after this post, I guess I don’t have any excuses! :)