A lot of new runners avoid running in the rain. Let’s face it: when you are first starting out, you can (and will!) find any reason to avoid your run for the day.
But, aside from thunderstorms, extreme winds, and inclement weather, there is absolutely no reason why you need to avoid running in the rain. In fact, there are many advantages to an occasional run in the rain.
Some of these benefits include physical gains, such as:
- Staying cooler during a hot run
- Increasing your metabolism
- Running faster
Most runners find that they pick up the pace during rainy runs simply because they want to get home and out of the rain faster. While the added physical benefits are nice, a run in the rain does even more for your mental health.
It’s no secret that running reduces stress, but did you know that running in the rain can be therapeutic as well?
The best part of rainy runs, however, is that they prepare you for adverse conditions anywhere, even off the road. The tough can-do mentality that you develop on your rainy day runs will carry over into all other areas of your life.
Running in the rain is all about how you approach it! With the proper mindset, you may learn to like it – and even look forward to those rainy days.
Should you even be running in the rain?
If you are wondering if you should run in the rain, the overall answer is YES. There is almost no reason why should not consider heading outside for a rainy day run. Still, if you are in doubt, read on to find out when you really should head outside, and when you should probably stay in.
And if in doubt, you can always make arrangements for a buddy to pick you up if it gets to be too much. (Carry your phone with you and have your friend on stand-by.) If the rain comes down harder, or bad weather moves in, call for a ride and finish the run indoors.
When you shouldn’t run in the rain
There are times when you may want to forgo the run outside and hit the treadmill instead.
- You shouldn’t run in the rain during bad weather: Rain is one thing. Storms or freezing temperatures are other things entirely. Hit the treadmill if there is a thunderstorm looming, or the winds are gusting above 40 miles per hour.
- If you are coming off of an injury, consider staying in as well: You need to help your body slowly re-adjust after being recently injured and being in rain is just asking to get re-injured.
- If you feel like you are fighting something off or just recently got over being sick, stay in: It’s not the wet weather that can bring on illness, according to the University of Wisconsin, but rather, the cold. (So, if it is a cold rain, and your health isn’t quite up to par, consider taking your workout indoors.)
Where to run in the rain –H2
Your route plays a major role when deciding whether or not you should run in the rain. You certainly don’t want to be running through two-foot-tall puddles!
But you also want to avoid muck and slick surfaces, so choose your running path wisely. Generally speaking, you want to avoid surfaces that are prone to slipperiness. (especially if the temp is dipping well below freezing) This includes routes that run across cobblestone or shiny cement, such as bridges.
If you must run on the road, avoid running directly on the lines. And choose roads that are less traveled, to avoid the relentless drive by splashing’s.
If you hit the sidewalk, know your route well. Holes can be hidden under seemingly innocent puddles, causing you to injure an ankle in an unexpected dip.
You might be tempted to hit the trails, knowing the dangers sidewalks and roads can hold. But again, be sure to know your terrain.
If the trail you intend to run doesn’t drain well, it will be especially muddy.
Running through mud isn’t necessarily bad, but it does ruin your shoes and make for a harder workout. As the mud clings to your feet, it gets heavier and heavier with each step. Plus, it’s hard on the trails, if you run them when they are super muddy.
Wherever you decide to run, watch your step. Pay attention to the road ahead of you, and consider taking shorter steps, to counter the effects of the rain.
What to wear when running in the rain
You may hear more seasoned runners claim, “there’s no inappropriate weather for a run – only inappropriate clothing”, and generally speaking, they’re not wrong!
Almost any weather can make for a good run, as long as you are dressed right. So, when choosing out clothing for your rainy-day run, keep in mind the following:
- Dress for the temperature, not the rain: You are going to get wet. And yes, you can limit the amount of wetness you feel by investing in the right clothing, but even so, you will still get wet.
- Don’t wear too many layers: You will, at times, need to layer your clothes, especially if it’s cold rain. But sometimes layers may be unnecessary, and you will be left running beneath the burden of heavy, soaked extra clothing.
- Leave your favorite shoes at home: They will get wet and/or muddy. And drying them out is a tedious process. Wear an older pair when running in the rain, so that you don’t destroy your favorite pair.
A light drizzle is when the rain is more of a mist or a sprinkle. It’s usually a nice, soft rain, no matter the time of the year, and there isn’t much you need to do to prepare for the run.
As long as you know that the rain isn’t supposed to start coming down harder, you can wear whatever you would normally wear in that same temp. So, if it’s hot, wear shorts and a tank top. If it’s cold, dress in warmer clothing.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind as you head out the door:
- Avoid wearing cotton: In any amount of rain, cotton acts as a sponge, soaking up the water and clinging to your skin.
- Light colors become see-through when wet: so go for darker clothing when it’s raining outside.
- A hat with a brim: is always a must in any kind of rain, for keeping the water out of your eyes.
A drizzle is more like a light rain. This isn’t a brutal force coming at you, by any means. But it is enough to get significantly wet. When preparing for a run in a drizzle, consider the following:
- A water resistant long sleeve shirt or jacket: Don’t wear a rain slicker, because it will trap in the heat and moisture. Instead, if it’s warm out, consider going without a jacket at all, and just wear a long sleeve. (But if it’s colder out, layer the long sleeve under the jacket.)
- Water resistant shorts or pants: Shorts made of nylon, spandex or polyester are best. If you are opting for pants or capris, be sure they are wick away as well. (Anything with ankle zippers makes it easier to peel them off after the run.)
- Don’t forget your brimmed running hat: Keep your head dry
Moderate rain can best be described as your typical rainy day. It usually means the temps are going to be lower than usual, so you will want to dress in layers.
The most important layer is the one closest to your skin, so make sure it is form fitting, comfortable, and made of wick away, water resistant material. Lightly tinted or clear glasses can also help to keep the water out of your eyes, along with your brimmed hat.
You may also want to consider:
- A water resistant running jacket or vest: This is your outer layer and should be both wind and water resistant. It needs to be made from a breathable material, because if it isn’t, it could trap sweat against your skin, leaving you cold and clammy in the rain.
- Water resistant running pants or tights. Typically, when it gets wetter, you are going to want to go with a more form-fitting pair of pants. Looser materials will get wet and cling to your skin or blow around in the wind.
- Fairly thick socks: Look for wool running socks that don’t bunch or slip. They won’t stay totally dry, but they won’t hold as much moisture as cotton.
- Put on thin, water resistant gloves: The air might not be cold, but the rain will make your hands cold.
- Water resistant hat: Choose a thicker, warmer hat with a brim if it’s colder outside or the rain is heavier. If it is really chilly, you can wrap a fleece headband around your hat, to keep it from blowing off of your head and to keep your ears a bit warmer
When it is pouring, you may want to consider running inside because this kind of weather is often accompanied by thunderstorms, high winds or dipping temperatures.
But, if you know it is just rain and nothing more, then remember to dress for the temperature, and not the rain.
Also, if you know your route takes you against the wind, dress like it is ten degrees colder than it actually is, to allow for the wind chill. You can check for the ‘feels like’ reading on your weather app for guidance on what to wear.
Wear a thick, water resistant jacket with a warm, form fitting running shirt underneath. Make sure everything is water resistant and made from technical fabric, from your jacket right down to your bra.
Also consider layering your pants, with mid-weight or heavy moisture wicking pants or tights as your bottom layer, and water resistant running pants on top.
Again, all fabrics should be water resistant or wick away material, right down to your underwear.
Put on your thick wool running socks, a warm hat with a brim and even warm, waterproof running gloves.
Running in the rain can be safe and fun, as long as you take the necessary precautions. Almost any type of rain is okay to run in, but if there is a storm looming, opt for an indoor workout instead.
Otherwise, remember to check your terrain – run where it is safe and less slippery. Water and dipping temps can quickly change any turf.
And finally, remember to dress for the temperature, not the rain. You will get wet, even with water resistant clothing. But running in the rain can be invigorating!
It unleashes your inner child, as you splash through the puddles. It also builds mental toughness, preparing you for all of life’s ups and downs.
So, get out and run!