How to Race in the Rain – Tips for Wet Weather Races

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Got a race coming up but bad weather looms? We’ve got some top tips for wet weather races that will help you prepare and relieve any anxiety you may feel about running in rainy conditions.

Running a race in the rain can be a bit different from taking an easy training run in a drizzle. But with a bit of preparation, you can run safely and perform at your best in any weather.

Work on these tips before your next race so you’re ready to run at the same level in the rain as you would on a clear day!

1. Focus On What You Can Control

One of the worst things about waking up on race day is the sinking feeling you get when you see rain! But with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can prevent that.

You have no say over the weather. So there’s no point getting upset over a rainy race day! Rather, work on developing the mindset that nothing can hold you back from running to your full potential.

Acknowledge the rain on race day. Better yet, get excited about it! Racing in the rain means you’re much less likely to overheat, so you may just find that it actually works out to your advantage!

On race day, focus on things you can control and let the rain do its thing. Your mental energy will be better spent that way!

2. Before the Race Starts

You don’t want to get soaked while you’re milling around waiting for the race to start. You’re unlikely to overheat during the race, but you can get cold pretty quickly when you’re not actively running.

To prevent your shoes from getting wet before you start running, you can tie plastic shopping bags over them to keep the water out. If this feels a bit weird, you can always wear another pair of shoes while waiting and switch to your race shoes just before you start running.

To keep your clothes dry, wear a plastic poncho over them while waiting. If you don’t have one, you can always make your own with a garbage bag!

Don’t worry about looking strange—nobody is going to think twice and you’ll be warmer than anyone else when you start.

3. Don’t Overdress

It can be easy to accidentally overdress on rainy days. Rain doesn’t always mean cold! In some cases, rain comes with humidity, which can be quite warm.

Do a bit of a tester before you choose how to dress—you should dress for the temperature rather than the wet conditions.

Layer up with light, cool clothing items. You can always remove a layer to get cooler, or add one to get warmer. Stay away from wearing thick, overly warm base layers that you won’t be able to take off later!

Choose moisture-wicking clothing that will get rid of sweat and keep you warm. Merino wool is an excellent fabric that helps you stay warm in cold weather but keeps you cool in the heat!

We recommend a light, thin base layer, a t-shirt or vest over that, followed by a lightweight jacket. If it’s very cold, you can wear a thicker jacket over that.

On your lower body, thin running tights underneath a pair of moisture-wicking shorts should work well.

4. Pay Attention to Your Feet

Don’t forget to pay attention to how you dress your feet! You can’t exactly layer up on your feet, or your shoes won’t fit!

Your socks are more important than you may realize. It’s important to understand that moisture-wicking properties won’t stop the rain from soaking your socks, but it can definitely help keep your feet a touch drier in a light shower.

If rain is common in your area, it may be worth investing in some waterproof running shoes. They’ll do a good job of keeping the water out of your shoes, although your socks may still get wet around the cuff of your shoe.

If you are wearing waterproof shoes, using foot powder can help keep your feet dry from sweat!

5. Watch Where You Step

Although many runners do so already, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the road or trail in front of you so you can spot puddles or hazards ahead of time.

Rain leads to puddles, and the tricky thing with puddles is that you never quite know how deep they are! They’re a trap for twisted ankles, so watching the ground as you run can help you avoid injury.

Also, although you’ll obviously be getting wet while running in the rain, you really don’t want your feet to be wetter than they need to be.

Watch where you step so that you don’t land in a puddle, trip over a tree root, step into a pothole, or slip on smooth, wet sections of road.

6. Wear a Lightweight, Moisture-Wicking Hat With a Brim

Wearing a hat can keep the rain from falling directly into your face, which can hamper your eyesight and reduce your performance.

Keep in mind that in moderate to heavy rain, chances are high that your hat will get wet. However, it will keep your head dry for a little longer than those who are bare-headed in the race.

Choose a lightweight hat that won’t weigh you down if it gets soaked. It should also have a stiff brim that won’t flop with the weight of water!

Moisture-wicking abilities can be handy in light rain but are unlikely to make much difference in a heavier downpour.

7. Prevent Chafing

Wet fabric has a habit of sticking to your skin, this can increase your chances of chafing and developing blisters or irritation. These chances increase if you wear loose clothing that can fold or flap.

To lower the chance of this happening, it’s a good idea to wear form-fitting clothes that don’t move as you run. However, they should still allow for full range of motion.

Be aware that, like socks and hats, moisture-wicking clothing is still going to get wet in rainy weather!

As an extra protective layer, you can use anti-chafing cream for runners. Apply a layer to the areas that are more susceptible to chafing.

8. Grab Gloves

Keeping your hands warm with gloves can positively affect your performance. Try getting an energy gel out of your running belt when your hands feel frozen!

A pair of lightweight running gloves will keep wind and water off your hands. They’re also not likely to cause you to get too warm, but if they’re a light pair of gloves, you should be able to stash them easily in a pocket or belt when you no longer need them.

9. Train In the Rain

Do you opt for a treadmill run over an outdoor run during training when it rains? Biting the bullet and getting outdoors to train in poor weather can actually boost your performance on race day.

We get it. It’s far easier to take a dry, comfortable run on the treadmill when you see raindrops outside. You never know what weather you may encounter on race day, so hitting the asphalt in a downpour could help to prepare you for running in unfavorable conditions.

It also gives you a chance to test out your running gear in rainy weather. If your shoes aren’t protective enough, it gives you time to make a plan or buy waterproof shoes before race day.

10. Protect Your Electronics

Make sure your electronics are well protected in rainy weather. Most smartwatches should be able to handle the rain, but if you carry a phone with you, you’ll need to take a bit more care.

A ziplock bag can serve as a quick, makeshift waterproof cover. Be aware that you may not be able to access the phone or use the touchscreen through the bag.

Or, if you prefer, invest in a waterproof cover made specifically for these kinds of situations. These often have touchscreen access if you need to use your phone while on the road.

11. Change Your Wet Clothes Post-Race

The quickest way to get uncomfortable, chafe, or catch a cold is to stay in your wet clothing after your race is finished!

We advise taking along an extra set of clothing that you can change into after your race. Make sure it’s geared for the temperature—for example, you may want to bring a beanie and heavier jacket if it’s cold, or just a light jacket if it’s still fairly warm despite the rain.

If you head home pretty quickly after your race, it’s tempting to just stay in your race clothes until you get home to have a warm shower. This could work if you live a few minutes away, but nobody really wants to get their car seats wet!

Leave your change of clothing in a dry bag inside your car, dry off, and change quickly before leaving.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.