Monday, June 21, 2010

Running, in the Rain; a Guide

How you too can find yourself looking forward to those gray, cloudy, drizzly days

So, you're reading this blog thinking "this guy is whacked, I'm not going out there in the rain!" Ask yourself this: Why not? The answers will always feel like excuses - go on, try it, answer the question... see, it feels like an excuse doesn't it?

Now that we've gotten past that, lets talk about what you can do to make running in the rain your favorite pastime.


The location for your run can really impact your state of mind. if you are constantly dodging puddles, leaping lakes, and mucking through mud the run will not be too fun - usually paved trails with good drainage work best. I find that level areas provide the best meditative runs, hills provide more challenge. It is also good to find a purpose built trail, especially during prolonged heavy rains - running along side a road can get you soaked as some drivers tend to view the combination of standing water and you as a great temptation. 


If there are electrical storms in the area it's probably best to wait! I tend to prefer a heavy drizzle to a hard rain, but there are times when either are exhilarating. No matter the intensity, rain acts as an "acoustic wash" providing a level of white noise that is great for contemplation or just getting lost in the moment. The world is a different place outside in the rain - it's serene.


If there is one thing that can ruin running in the rain it is cotton. Cotton is the abrasive sponge of the textile industry. If you are dry it's nice and soft, but get it wet and after a mile you'll have chafing that will scream COTTON! to you when jump in the shower. "Tech fabric" is a glorified name for polyester. This is not to be confused with those lime green leisure suits from the '70s. Tech fabric is light and soft, it's only joy in life is to suck moisture off your skin and keep it away. Tech fabric is definitely one of the main keys that turned me into a rain runner. I can be in a complete downpour soaking me from head to toe, but as soon as the rain's intensity abates - I'm dry. Tech clothing from shirts to socks helps keep you dry ( tech socks are awesome for channeling moisture from feet to prevent blisters) and does not cling - no wet T-shirt contests here! One article of clothing really helps in the rain: a baseball cap. You can keep your eyes out of the rain or turn it around to get a good spritz - it is nice keeping the eyes dry on the long runs - on windy days glasses are advisable too.

"Dress as if the temperature was twenty degrees warmer, if it's raining go for 10 degrees" - Eric Sach

How much to wear?  
Temperature is a funny thing - Just standing around in 50 degree weather (Fahrenheit) in shorts and a T shirt is a bit cold. Trust me though, when you are running it is enough.Eric Sach of The Balanced Athlete summed up gear choice quite succinctly "If it's dry out dress as if the temperature was twenty degrees warmer, if it's raining 10 degrees"  The following are rough guidelines, they work well for me, but people are different. 

50 and above
The shorts and Tshirt work up until around 70 degrees, above that I'd switch to a singlet top. 

40 - 50
I'd keep the tshirt, but either put a long sleeve shirt underneath or move to long pants. Long pants and heavy rain make for added weight though, try tights - seriously... guys too (these are awesome for warmth and wicking)

Don the long pants/tights and layered long-sleeve/Tshirt combo. ear muffs are optional. Gloves too are optional, but after the first mile, your hands do warm up considerably.

Under 30
You will need to add gloves - but also you'll be running in the snow - so get some traction devices for your shoes and BE CAREFUL one slip and you might take a few months before you can run again!

Do yourself a favor - if you haven't tried it, give it a shot - Go run in the rain and let me know what you think.

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