How To Prepare For A Triathlon In The Rain


Is there a rain forecast for the day of your big race?

Perhaps it’s in an area that sees a lot of rain in the season. Or maybe you’ve just been caught out before and not known how to deal with showers on race day.

Learning how to prepare for a triathlon in the rain can help you have the best race possible regardless of weather.

Just a bit of thought in your training and preparation work before race day can help you handle anything that comes your way on the day.

Whatever the weather, learning how best to handle a triathlon in the rain will definitely give you an advantage. Let’s get into it!

Do Your Training in the Rain

The best possible way to prepare is to train in the rain. This alone can give you a huge advantage.

It can be tempting to just stay in bed or head back indoors when raindrops begin to fall. But if you take advantage of this weather for training purposes, you’ll have a huge advantage over those who haven’t trained in these conditions.

Take note of how you feel in rainy weather. Do you get cold easily? How does your running gear handle the wet weather? This can give you some insight into possible changes that need to be made before you get to the race.

Training in the rain will also help you learn tricky skills, like how to slow down properly on your bike or swim efficiently in rainy weather.

Study the Weather Before the Race

By this, we mean learn about weather patterns in the area. Keep an eye on weather apps or channels for the area in which your race will be.

It’s a good idea to check out weather patterns a few months in advance. Does it rain for days on end? Or do rain showers seem to be short and sweet before clear skies come back?

You don’t have to learn the ins and outs of the weather in too much detail. But it’s a great idea to get a bit of an idea of what to expect in the area on the day.

Definitely check out the weather forecast the day before the race. If you’ve been keeping an eye on it in the months prior, you should be able to get a bit of an idea of the conditions coming up the following day.

Plan Your Clothing Layers Carefully

Dressing too heavy can weigh you down and make you uncomfortable. But dressing too light can leave you cold during your race.

The key is to layer. A warm base layer and lighter top layers is the best way to go. A rain jacket or windproof jacket would be a good top layer to protect you from the cold, while still being light and not hampering your movement.

Avoid Non-Breathable Jackets

Even if it’s cool, it will be easy to overheat if you’re wearing gear that isn’t breathable. Most sports apparel is designed to be breathable, but it may be worth testing a few or borrowing one or two from friends to get a feel for them.

Remember, exercise naturally raises the core body temperature. A less breathable jacket on the bike will be okay, as you’re moving less and you’ll have some wind resistance cooling you down.

But running requires full-body movements, and it can be super easy to get too warm if your jacket doesn’t wick away moisture and allow for good ventilation.

You don’t want to have to stop and remove your jacket and then risk getting too cold. Choose a breathable, light jacket from the start!

Organize Your Transition Area Accordingly

They say the transition is the 4th leg of a triathlon, and it’s true that this is where things either come together well or fall apart!

Having a well-prepared transition area is key to both saving you time and making sure you stay warm and dry.

Keep an extra jacket (breathable and light, of course) in a safe, dry place so you can swap it out if you need to.

It’s also a good idea to have a dry pair of shoes for each leg. Not only will it help you feel more comfortable, but it has a positive mental effect too!

Keep Your Stuff in a Waterproof Bag on Transitions

Speaking of keeping extra gear around during your transitions, it’s best to invest in a waterproof transition bag.

You’re only going to feel worse if you arrive at your transition area only to find that your spare gear is soaked through.

If you can, it might help to store your stuff off the ground, for example, on a small stool. That way, your bag won’t be sitting in a puddle, even if it is waterproof.

This just helps your gear to stay dry and safe, so you can swap wet stuff out for dry, warm stuff if necessary.

Keep your shoes in a plastic bag and upside down, just in case water does get. This will stop water from pooling inside them and becoming a problem when you put them on later.

Consider Clear Lenses

Whether you’re running, swimming, or cycling, we recommend wearing clear lenses on your glasses or goggles.

Lenses with a tint are excellent for bright, sunny conditions, but can obscure your vision in rainy, murky weather.

Clear lenses will allow you to see without obstruction. If you want more of a rain repellent effect, try something like RainX, which will keep droplets off of your lenses.

Forget the Socks

Forgoing the socks can be a huge help in wet weather. Socks tend to get a little bogged down in rain, and leaving them behind can help your feet stay more comfortable on the road and the bike.

If you’ve never gone sockless before, please don’t try this for the first time on race day. It’s best to train without socks so you get a good feel for it. Start gradually, because it can feel quite weird when you first begin.

Make sure that your shoes fit well without socks. You’ll most likely need to cinch down good and proper to get a comfortable lockdown. Your shoe needs to feel natural and comfortable, with no flopping around or unnecessary space.

You may find that you really don’t like running or riding without socks. That’s okay – it’s not for everyone! In the end, it’s up to you whether you keep the socks on or leave them off.

But we do advise at least practicing without socks for a while so that you can take them off in wet weather if necessary. It can make a big difference to your comfort and your race.

Know How to Ride in the Rain

Riding in the rain can be tricky. We advise getting out and training on the bike every time you wake up to a rainy day!

On wet roads, you should do your best to keep the bike as upright as possible. Leaning can cause the wheels to lose their grip, which means there’s a high risk for accidents.

Try to turn with your body, not the bike. It does require some practice, so again, it’s best to work on it before race day.

You’ll also need to get used to not braking hard, which can cause the same problems as above. Work the brakes subtly to slow down in advance, and be aware that you’ll need a longer distance to slow down than you would in dry weather.

Don’t Get Sick

Going through a race in the rain can take a bit of a toll on the body! To avoid catching a cold after the race, take a few of these preventative measures.

Get changed into dry clothing as soon as possible after the race. Keep some dry towels in your car or transition bag so you can dry down before changing. Make sure you’ve got warm clothing.

When you’re home, hop in a warm shower to ease those muscles and warm you up properly. If you have a bath at home, soaking in warm water with Epsom salts can do wonders for sore muscles.

A quick serving of fruit while you’re still at the venue will help to boost your blood glucose levels until you can get home. When you can, have a good, healthy post-race meal, consisting of a good mix of healthy carbs, fats, and protein to refuel your body.

Don’t forget to hydrate even after the race is finished! Water and electrolyte drinks are good choices.

Take Care of Your Gear

Don’t forget to spend some time taking care of your gear after your race. Your bike is likely to be your most expensive investment, so you should take care to get it dry as soon as possible after the race.

If you’re traveling with your bike, don’t put it into a bike cover while it’s still wet. This only creates a perfect environment for mold!

Wipe down all your gear with a dry towel or cloth after the race. This includes helmets, fitness trackers or smartwatches, and anything else that can be dried this way.

Store wet gear in waterproof bags so it doesn’t seep out and make everything else wet. Wash it as soon as possible to avoid mold and odor setting in!

It’s a Mental Game

This is possibly the toughest part of a triathlon, whether it’s in the rain or not! You can gear up and be as prepared as possible, but in the end, it all comes down to your mental strength.

We highly advise “practicing” your mental strength as you would your physical activities. Meditation and practicing mindfulness are invaluable for an athlete.

It can be easy to feel down and psych yourself out when you’re running in less-than-ideal weather.

Practicing mental toughness and learning calming techniques can help immensely. You should train your mind as well as your body if you’re serious about triathlon!

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Shanna is a writer who runs... And cycles, jumps rope, and lifts weights. She lives in beautiful South Africa and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with other avid athletes.