Rainy day running ….. embrace it!

Posted: January 15, 2010 in Motivation, Training

Most runners are creatures of habit and I must admit I am no different.  In fact, for those who know me well and are can recite multiple examples of my obsessive compulsive behavior – I am probably more guilty than most.  One ritual that I adhere to virtually every evening before heading off to sleep is to check the hourly weather report for my “run-time” the following morning to prepare the clothing I will need and get mentally prepared for what the experience will be when the alarm goes off.

I had written a post previously about cold weather running and how I like to lay out my running gear the night before mostly to let my wife continue to sleep while I am sneaking out for a morning run.  My wife is the greatest, no doubt about it.  She has supported me through close to four years now of marathon training and racing, the purchase of close to 20 pairs of running shoes, early mornings, early evenings – she even brought me water during a 20-mile training run in the pouring rain in October of 2006.  The least I can do is sneak out for my morning run without opening and closing drawers, turning lights on and off just because I can’t find my under armour skull cap or light running gloves.  As I said before, happy wife = happy life.

100% chance of rain this morning

As I stated previously, I do however like to know what the weather has in store for me to get mentally ready for the run.  Is it going to be windy?  If so, how much?  Chance for ice on the roads or foot bridges?  Rain – you bet.  So last night’s forecast for the Austin area predicted 50 degree weather at 6 a.m. this morning, 12-14 mph winds and 100% chance of rain.  For many runners new to the sport – a rainy day means a treadmill run or perhaps even a skipped work-out.  For me, I try to embrace it, even celebrate it. 

I ran the race of my life in the Pittsburgh Marathon last year in a light rain from mile 14 to the finish.  Part of it was training hard for the pace and distance, but the other was knowing exactly how my body, my mind and importantly my gear would stand up to roughly 1.5 hours in the rain.  Marathon training is more than just ticking off runs and miles from your training plan getting ready to take the challenge of 26.2 miles.  It is also building confidence in your abilities and your preparation that you will be ready for whatever the day and whatever the race gods decide to throw at you.  What better way to prepare to race in the rain and wind than to train in it?  So this morning with a light rain falling and an easy 5-miler on the schedule – off we went.

There are a few things to consider when preparing for a rainy training run.  For me, the one irritant is having mist and water running into my eyes when I am running.  Mixing with sweat this can be very salty and at times stinging to your eyes.  My solution is to run with a hat with a brim.  Several running stores will sell “running base-ball caps” that are made of wicking material, have a soft headband that will not irritate your forehead and can accomodate a pony tail for female runners.  Great piece of gear to add to your arsenal.

It will feel about 5 degrees cooler when running in the rain than on a clear day.  So today’s 50 degree temperature in Austin would “feel” more like 45 degrees.  This meant that I needed shorts, sleeves and a light pair of gloves this morning (typical 45 degree run-gear) rather than a short sleeve technical shirt.  Being the hero that I am of course, I thought I could bypass the gloves and made a tactical error by not wearing them.  Like I said, I am constantly learning and re-learning lessons when it comes to training.  If it is rainy and 50 at Boston this spring – gloves required.

Socks – sounds silly, but I like to have a mixture of black and white socks for running.  Fashion conscious?  Hardly.  If there is one thing I have learned about marathoning is that it is a humbling experience that will leave you at times very vulnerable.  Worried about whether my socks match my running shorts is not an issue.  However, running on wet roads and wet trails can be very “dirty”.  The backs of your legs, socks and shorts will accumulate a lot of grime over the course of the run.  Wear dark colors on rainy days from the waist down.

From the waist up I try to be as visible as possible.  I do the majority of my training on a trail system behind our home, but I do spend approximately 2 miles on surface streets.  As a morning runner I try to make sure that I have a lot of reflective running gear on my hands, wrists, chest, back when I am purchasing clothing – safety first, and always run “against” traffic and not “with it”.  You want to be able to see the drivers see you.  This is one advantage runners have over cyclists – take advantage of it.

Bodyglide - Runner's Best Friend

Chafing – always a problem for distance runners, but even more so in the rain when there is a lot more moisture to deal with.  Two bits of advice here.  Run in technical clothing that has moisture wicking fabric.  This fabric as opposed to cotton that absorbs moisture instead transports it to the surface of your clothing which will allow the wind to remove it and dry you.  Sometimes there are things that you can skimp on when it comes to running gear, but shoes and tops are not it. 

The other product I use before every run but even more so on rainy days is Body Glide.  Amazing product.  It is designed to allow your clothing to be able to move against your skin without chafing.  It comes in a stick form to be rolled on very similar to a deodorant stick on the parts of your body where you would normally chafe or get blisters — such as your feet, inner thighs, underarms, sports bra lines (women), and nipples (men).  It is not greasy, does not stain your clothing and does an amazing job.  Vaseline is a good substitute, although I have found it is a bit greasyand tends to stain my clothing a bit after a longer run.

After your run your shoes are going to be wet – no doubt about it.  If you do not have multiple training shoes not to worry.  When you return from your run simply ball up newspaper and stuff it into your shoes – making sure not to pack them too tightly to distort the shape.  After a time your running shoes will conform to your feet – so try not to put too much outer pressure on your toe box or sides of your shoes.  Newspaper works like magic – and by morning your shoes will be nice and dry.  Do not try to dry your shoes in the clothes dryer as this will break down the rubber and absorbing qualities of the soles.

Lastly, just do it!  Get out there – after you warm up you will find that the rain is a nice distraction and on hot days can be a nice cooling effect.  Should you ever encounter a rainy event – you will be more than ready.  I covered the 5-miles this morning in 36:38 (7:19 pace) – I was hoping to come in at 7:20 which is our target pace goal for next Sunday’s half marathon.  If it is a rainy Sunday next week we’ll be ready.  I just need to remember those gloves.

  1. jessicad says:

    Amazing! I was just considering how to approach a blog for the first team fit run in the cold. If you don’t mind I am just going to reference yours.

  2. joerunfordom says:

    Jessica – no problem what so ever! Thanks so much for visiting – great to hear from you again. Take care and stay warm!


  3. Sarah says:

    I really love running in the rain, especially since I’m in California and it’s never that cold of a rain. Thanks for the tips on gear and bodyglide. I’m a newbie so advice is always welcome! 🙂

  4. […] Marruchella writes on his blog about how he prepares to run in the rain. He is training for 2 marathons in 2 weeks. There is no […]

  5. Thanks for the tips, especially in regard to temp. I was concerned about feeling even colder out there with the pouring rain last night. According to the thermometer in my backyard it was 41 degrees and I feared the extra wet would make it feel even colder! At least that gives me some kind of guideline to go on!

    • joerunfordom says:

      You bet Jill! Thanks for stopping by again. That wind is really the only thing to be real concerned about. 5-8 MPH – no worries, when it gets to blowing in that 12-15 range I start looking for something to wear that will stop the wind and keep the moisture off of me.

      Take care!

  6. polynesian69 says:

    I’m training for my first Marathon, (SF 2010), and came across your blog. Great advice, some of which I already do, but I think I need the glide. Good insight here, I’m gonna poke around a bit and see what I can learn about marathonning from you. Cheers!

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