Rainy runs are inevitable. But running in the rain can be tricky at best and dangerous at worst. While skipping your run when it’s rainy outside is tempting, a little preparation can make running in the rain an almost enjoyable experience.
Here’s our ultimate guide to getting out there to run when the weather’s bad. If you can master this, you’ll already have overcome a major mental hurdle!
Take this advice and make it work for you… And you might just become a fan of running in the rain.
Is It Safe To Run In The Rain?
In general, rain itself isn’t dangerous. On a hot day, it can be quite refreshing and make for a lovely run! However, the things that come with the rain can make rainy weather a little less safe to run in.
For example, running during thunderstorms is unsafe, so stick to the treadmill if there’s lightning outside. In heavy rain, there will likely be poor visibility, which means motorists won’t be able to see you either.
Rain can increase your chances of slipping. There’s also a chance of you getting soaked, which can cause you to become chilled and get sick. Or, if it’s a cold day, develop hypothermia.
But ultimately, if you’re prepared for the rain, you should be perfectly safe running in it.
How Much Rain Is Too Much for Running?
There’s no right or wrong number here; it depends mostly on personal preference and safety. Light to moderate rain is usually all right to run in, but we advise against heading out into heavy rainfall for a run.
Obviously, if there’s a large amount of water pooling along your usual running route and it’s still coming down, it’s probably best to avoid running. If there are any other severe weather conditions besides the rain—wind, lightning, or cold—then it might be a good idea to skip the run that day or stick to indoor cross-training.
What to Wear in the Rain
The first thing to nail down is what to wear when running in the rain. Get this right, and you’ll be comfortable and protected. But get it wrong, and you’ll be cold and wet.
Wear a Hat With a Brim
It could be tempting to choose a beanie if it’s cool weather, but wearing a hat with a brim can help protect your eyes from the rain. This will help to improve your visibility, and it’ll also help a little to keep the heat from escaping from your head, which is one of the places where a lot of heat escapes.
Layering Can Be the Best Strategy in Cold Rain
Layering takes a bit of practice to get right, but once you’ve found the right combination of apparel, you’ll find that it’s the best way to dress in cold, rainy weather. Heat gets trapped between each layer, keeping you warm without making you overheat.
Choose a light, moisture-wicking base layer, a looser layer on top of that if necessary, and a lightweight, water-resistant jacket. If you get warm, you can remove a layer and still remain protected to a degree without getting too warm.
Waterproof and Windproof Running Jacket
When it comes to your outer layer, a waterproof and windproof jacket is always best. Try to find something protective from the elements but isn’t too thick and bulky.
Remember that there’s a difference between waterproof and water-resistant—choose whichever is more likely to be needed for the weather in your area.
Also, remember that a waterproof jacket not only keeps water out but also keeps it in. If you are sweating while you run, the sweat won’t evaporate and instead stay inside the jacket, keeping you damp.
A reflective vest is a great idea in low-visibility conditions. These are usually very lightweight, so throwing one over your jacket or shirt is no problem. This small piece of gear can make a big difference to motorists seeing you in bad weather.
Running Tights and Pants
Loose pants can be a disaster in rainy weather because as they become wet, they’ll start to stick to the legs and become uncomfortable. Running tights are the way to go. Choose something that’s moisture-wicking and make sure they’re the right fit.
Cotton socks are a no-no, as they hold onto moisture. Choose synthetic socks that have moisture-wicking properties—Merino wool is best, as they’re naturally antibacterial and regulate temperature, so your feet should stay warm.
Wear the Right Shoes
You’ll need shoes with excellent traction for safe running in the rain. Make sure the outsole of your shoes features rubber that grips slippery surfaces and will keep you safe on your feet.
It’s also a good idea to choose waterproof or water-resistant shoes, otherwise, there’s a chance of your feet getting wet, which can ruin your run!
Gloves to Keep Your Hands Warm
If it’s simply light drizzle, you may not need these. But they’re particularly useful in weather that includes rain and wind to prevent your hands from feeling that biting, slicing wind.
You can find gloves that are thin but insulating, allowing you to retain movement and dexterity in your hands while keeping them warm.
What Not to Wear in the Rain
Now you know what you should be wearing… But here are a few things you should avoid if you want a comfortable run in the rain.
- Cotton: Cotton absorbs water and weighs you down. Also, it can lead to chafing.
- Too Many Layers: Over-layering can restrict your movement and lead to overheating. Aim for two-three light layers (one if it’s warm), but adjust as needed.
- Dark Clothes: Wearing dark clothing in low-visibility conditions makes it harder for motorists to see you. Wear something light, even if you’re wearing reflective gear as well.
- Non-Breathable Rain Gear: Non-breathable rain apparel can trap sweat between the skin and the clothing, potentially leading to overheating and discomfort.
- Loose or Baggy Clothing: when wet, these kinds of clothes can become heavy and stick to you, slowing you down.
Running in the Rain: Hazards and Things to Watch Out For
If you’re going to be running in the rain, it’s important to be aware of potential hazards that you may encounter. Knowing these can help you be more prepared before stepping out for your run.
Lightning and Thunderstorms
Lightning is dangerous. We highly recommend not running outdoors if there’s lightning around. If you get caught in a thunderstorm while running, find shelter and wait it out.
Even though you’ll probably be running with a reflective vest, it can become difficult for others to see you when conditions are poor. This is a particularly problematic hazard, as you can’t see other hazards as they arise.
It’s best to avoid running in bad visibility, but if you do, make sure to be as visible as possible.
Even with great shoes, slippery surfaces are a risk. If you run in the rain, slow your pace and be careful where you step. Avoid places you know will be slippery in the rain, like grass or muddy areas.
Puddles and Standing Water
Puddles might look fun to run through—a throwback to being a kid! But they can hide other hazards, like potholes, bricks, or uneven surfaces, that may pose bigger problems.
Even if there are no other hazards, puddles are bound to wet your feet, increasing the chance of chafing.
Traffic and Road Safety
While motorists may not be able to see you, there’s also a chance of you not being to see them. Pay careful attention to what’s around you, including traffic, pedestrians, and other runners. Check both ways when crossing the street!
Only Go as Fast as You Can Safely
There’s no need to increase your pace in the rain. Shorten your cadence and do your best to stay stable on any ground. Safety should be your first concern because you aren’t trying to beat records here.
Post-Rainy Run Tips
Once you’ve braved the rainy weather, it’s important to get warm as soon as possible. Here are some easy tips for post-run care.
Change Into Dry Clothes as Soon as Possible
Don’t sit around in wet clothing longer than you must. Getting into dry clothing will significantly lower your chances of chafing and getting chilled.
If you don’t have time to shower, then simply dry off with a towel and put dry clothing on—everything from underwear to socks to your outer apparel.
Take a Warm Shower or Bath
A warm shower or bath will help relax your muscles and warm you up. Make sure it’s not too hot, or you might accidentally burn yourself. Also, if you choose to take a bath, don’t sit in the tub for so long that the water gets cold, or you’ll find yourself chilled again.
Moisturize Your Skin
Rain can wash the natural oils off your skin, so it’s a good idea to moisturize once you’re dry and clean again. Choose a high-quality moisturizer and use it after a shower, bath, or face wash.
Have Something Warm to Drink
A hot beverage will raise your core temperature and help warm you up from the inside out. Plus, it feels pretty darn good. Drink it slowly and allow it to warm you up.
Thoroughly Dry Shoes
Don’t allow your running shoes to stay damp, or they may start growing mold or odor-causing bacteria. Stuffing them with newspaper can help to dry them out. You can also place them close to a heater to dry before you run in them again.
Races in the Rain Tips
If you wake up on race day to rainy weather, here’s our advice to still have a fast and fun race.
Check the Weather Forecast Beforehand
It’s a good idea to stay informed about the expected weather conditions on race day. Check the forecast beforehand so you’re prepared and have some time to make changes to your gear and racing strategy.
Warm Up Properly
Warming up will help you to get your muscles warm before starting. If you start with cold, unprepared muscles, you’re much more at risk of developing an injury.
Plus, you’ll spend your first mile or so warming up. Time that could have been spent running faster and more efficiently.
You don’t need a long warm-up—just 5 or 10 minutes of brisk walking or running drills will do. If you can, warm up in a dry area.
Wear Appropriate Race Gear
Choose clothing that’s lightweight, comfortable, and breathable. If it’s cold, you should definitely be layering.
Make a plan for what you will do if you need to take a layer off halfway through the race—will someone collect it from you, or do you choose a packable jacket?
Using a disposable poncho or a garbage bag to keep you dry while waiting at the starting line is a good idea. That way, you aren’t soaked before the race even starts.
Apply Anti-Chafing Products
Wet clothing is more prone to chafing. You can get ahead of this by applying anti-chafing products to problem areas. You can buy anti-chafing creams, sprays, and roll-ons.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated even in wet weather. Make sure you have a hydration strategy and stick to it throughout your race.
Adjust Your Pace and Expectations
You most likely won’t hit a PB in rainy weather. Adjust your expectations and slow your pace to stay safe on the course.
Pack a Dry Kit
Bring a spare set of clothing and shoes so you can change into dry clothing as soon as possible after the race. You want to store this in a waterproof bag and perhaps leave it in the car – or the drop bag area in large races – until you’re finished the race. Make sure you have enough warm clothing.
Don’t Wear New or Untested Gear
It’s cliched but true—nothing new on race day! Wear clothing and shoes you’ve worn before, preferably ones you’ve already done a rainy run in. Wear something new, and there’s a chance of it chafing when it gets wet, which will only ruin your run.