Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, once said “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.” The weather is beyond our control, so don’t fret about it too much. Instead, focus on what you can do to make it work in your favor. In adverse conditions, a little planning goes a long way. Here’s what you need to know to run your best race in the rain.
I ran my first half-marathon in hurricane warning conditions a few years back. The sea spray was splashing over the sea wall, the rain was coming down sideways, and there were puddles the size of swimming pools all over the course. I finished with blood on my shoes and my nipples were missing. Okay, they weren’t really missing, as I found out later in the most painful shower of my life.
Both of these issues could have been avoided with just a bit of Vasoline on my shoes and socks, and some Nip guards or Band-Aids. You know where you chafe, apply something liberally to those areas if you’re running in the rain. Trust me on this.
Dress for the Occasion
Don’t wear too much. This kind of goes along with the chafing thing. If you aren’t wearing a lot, then there’s less to worry about in terms of added weight and the discomfort of wet clothing. Wear a breathable tech shirt with a breathable water-resistant shell if you are worried about getting cold. A trash bag works well as a poncho pre-race.
Shorts are fine, your legs can handle getting wet. Your socks and shoes are going to get wet, but you can try to keep them dry for as long as possible by carrying them to the start or wrapping your feet in plastic bags until your race begins. The aforementioned technique takes some resolve and an unusually high level of self-confidence.
Wear a hat or a visor, even if you’re not a “hat person.” The hat will keep a bit of heat in your body, but even better, it will keep the rain out of your eyes so you can see where you’re going. It would be embarrassing to crash into an aid station or go left when everyone else goes right at mile 7. There are plenty of runner’s hats that will work. If you wear your favorite team cap it’ll be heavy and wet in no time.
Play in the Rain
Adults don’t get a chance to play very often. Running is about the closest thing to play we have in our lives. We get a chance to run, jump, splash, and whoop it up on race day. Enjoy the freedom and elation of racing through a downpour! Ditch your electronics and revel in the race day experience.
Just because you’re soaking wet and your fingers have turned to prunes doesn’t mean that you can ignore proper hydration. You still need to drink water and follow your normal race day practice for fueling and hydration. It’s easy to forget this when your sneakers are squishing.
Congratulations! You finished your race. And, battling the elements makes the accomplishment even sweeter. “Not only did I run a half-marathon, but it was raining cats and dogs and the course was uphill both ways.” The stories will be epic.
But, before grabbing a post-race beverage and celebrating, get into some dry clothes. Bring a bag with you to the race with a post-race outfit and some other essentials like towels, handy wipes, phone, water, etc. I usually do this at every race, but in the rain it’s especially important.
When you get home, you’ll want to wash your race gear right away and dry out your wet running shoes. Most shoes aren’t dryer-friendly, so you might want to consider shoving some balled-up newspaper in the shoes to soak up moisture and speed up the drying process.
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