Running In The Rain


Great Strides 2007 Shelly Glover  


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Recently my running friend received a Mother’s Day card from her 5-year old son Jack. Inside were illustrations of a few of her favorite things. For food, there was chocolate, and for hobbies there were running shoes and for her favorite television show, he carefully crayoned The Weather Channel.

Runners can be obsessive weather watchers, planning our runs and races around the conditions. But sometimes you have to get out the door to run despite the forecast.


Rain and Daily Training

There’s really not much to daily training in the rain. Just get out the door. You can last through most anything for 30 to 40 minutes. Just make up your mind and put one foot in front of the other until you are done. Here’s a quick tips list:

  • Skip the dryer. Artificial heat sources contribute to the breakdown of high-tech shoe rubbers and glues. If you are expecting Monsoon season or the like of it — use the Bombay alternative and buy a second or third pair of shoes.
  • Dry your shoes by removing the innards and stuffing the body with newspapers to wick the moisture out of your gear. Don’t put them on a radiator or in the oven. This was a favorite trick of my Mom’s. There’s nothing quite as memorable as the aroma of smoldering rubber oozing from a forgotten pair of shoes inside a heating oven.
  • Be seen. Wear a reflective vest, patches, or other bright-colored clothing. A glimpse of the reflective glow may be the only warning a motorist has to your presence. Battery-powered, portable mini strobe lights also alert drivers.
  • Moderate your pace for the conditions. Shorten your stride and stay relaxed.
  • Staying dry is usually hopeless. Staying warm isn’t. Make it your business to avoid hypothermia. Keep those gorgeous runner’s legs warm too! Tights usually do the trick. Heavy rain requires water-repellent pants. You’ll be warm, but the fabric swish swish sound of the legs rubbing together may drive you a little buggy.
  • Save the Gortex clothing for cold, wet weather. It's too warm for non-winter wear. Water and wind-repellent clothing suffice most the rest of the year.
  • Don’t wear cotton t-shirts in the rain. Many a novice marathoner can been seen struggling under the weight of a drenched, stretched cotton t-shirt weighing the equivalent of a choir robe. These tops cling, rub and weigh a gazillion pounds. Choose wicking Cool-Max tops instead. They're a little softer and don’t hoard raindrops.
  • If you’re really in doubt about whether to wear a jacket or not, try one that folds up into its own pocket and converts to a waist packet. Better than the novice jacket-tied-around-the waist look, and much better than getting the chills.
  • Most wet cotton socks are blister instigators. They bunch, wrinkle, crease and give your toes a wedgie. Pick an acrylic or polypropylene blend. Record in your log which socks are successful so on race day there won’t be any doubts.
  • Afford yourself little luxuries. A cap with some type of beak keeps the worst of the spritz off your face, although it would probably fail in a mascara test.
  • Be extra careful around car traffic. Although the impulse is to rush the crosswalk, wait for the signal. Cars and drivers have a lot less control on wet roads.



Running Coach Shelly Glover has a master's degree in exercise physiology from Columbia University. She co-authored The Runner's Handbook and The Competitive Runner’s Handbook, is a veteran road runner and marathoner. She also coaches The Greater New York Racing Team is available for private coaching. Coaching Services


Avoiding Hypothermia:

  • Run the first half of the workout running against the wind and the second half with a warming tailwind that wraps body heat around you like a blanket.
  • Wear a hat and gloves.
  • Wind-chill is a factor in all seasons. Wear a nylon windbreaker type-shell or other jacket to keep the wind out and your body heat in. A vented, breathable jacket is the most comfortable.
  • Listen for the warning sound of approaching cars spewing mud and hurry up onto the curb to avoid an icy mud bath.
  • If convenient, try changing into dry clothes a few times during a run.
  • Run a loop course if conditions are bad. Better not to be far from home. Just in case, carry enough money for a cab ride, phone call or emergency hot chocolate