We all know the saying “April showers bring May flowers.” But there’s really no reason your running routine has to suffer due to drizzle or a downpour. Running in the rain can be safe, fun — and definitely rewarding — as long as you embrace the weather.
Here are a few tips to make those stormy days much more bearable (and safe):
TAILOR YOUR ROUTE
If it’s pouring rain, you’ll want to skip trails that don’t drain well. First, the slog through ankle-deep mud isn’t much fun and, second, it’s destructive to the trails. You may also want to skip high-traffic roads to avoid the ‘drive by splash.’ Last, think about the running surface: Some sidewalks almost immediately turn into puddles at the slightest bit of rain, and cobblestoned streets or ones with shiny cement can be dangerously slippery. Opt for rail trail paths that absorb water well, sidewalks with good drainage or less-traveled roads with wide shoulders.
Making sure drivers can see you is paramount. If you can avoid running in busy areas, that’s safest. If you run where cars are on the road, run facing oncoming traffic so you know what’s coming. Drivers don’t expect runners to be out on bad weather days, so make sure you’re wearing a headlamp or reflective accents even during daytime runs in order to increase your visibility. From head to toe, it’s easy to add reflective pieces of clothing that make you ultra-visible to passing cars: Under Armour offers reflective accents on most running gear for better visibility.
STAY WARM AND DRY(ISH)
It’s often hard to know what gear to wear in shoulder seasons like spring and fall. Even as temperatures rise, wet days can quickly lead to chills once you’re soaked and especially after you stop running. If it’s raining, assume it will feel 10–15 degrees colder than the actual temperature. So, if it’s 60ºF out, dress like it’s 45ºF. Layers with zipper options are your best bet, especially in locations where at 10 a.m. it may be 35ºF but by 11 a.m. it may warm up to 55ºF.
Remember, a full rain suit (or even a raincoat without any venting) makes you warm up quickly and can create a steam room effect underneath, drenching yourself with sweat inside instead of rainwater outside. Invest in a decent running raincoat with ventilation to stay semi-dry, and opt for a brimmed cap to keep glasses clear and improve your vision. Accept that your legs and feet are going to get wet and muddy and aim for tighter layers: It’s less annoying to run in shorts or tights that are soaked through versus sweatpants that are drenched and sag.
Remember rainy days when you were a kid? Sprinting full speed through puddles was a cause for celebration, not a reason to moan about the weather. Work on changing your self-talk from “Oh no, I have to do a run in the rain, this is the worst,” to “I can’t wait to play in the puddles and enjoy not being overheated!” Changing how you talk to yourself about rain eventually translates to your body actually starting to enjoy it. If you’re a racer, you will likely have to stand at the start line in the pouring rain one day, so use this training run as a chance to get used to it. Enjoy the feeling of being one of the tough, serious, committed runners who opted to get outside even in the bad weather. Know that every run you do in the rain makes you stronger mentally!