"You shouldn’t be scared about running in the rain—you just need to be prepared to embrace it," says pro runner Scott Jurek, record holder in the 135-mile long Badwater Ultramarathon, who spent 11 years training in rainy Seattle weather. Jurek says that lacing up in and trekking through the rain makes you a stronger athlete.
If you're up for a wet and wild workout, here’s what you need to enjoy yourself and, most importantly, stay safe:
Break Out the Neon Gear
Those wild neon running tights you love will definitely come in handy for a run on a drizzly day, says Jurek. That's because when it’s raining, it gets darker and more difficult for drivers to see you. On top of that, the slick roads make it hard for vehicles to stop quickly. By wearing neon yellow, pink, orange, or green during the day, you'll be more visible than you would be wearing gear with reflective patches, says Jurek. Of course, if it's a rainy evening, go ahead and break out some reflective gear.
Wear Smart Layers
If you're going with shorts, it's a good idea to pop some compression shorts on underneath to prevent chafing—which can become worse when your body is wet, says Jurek.
If it's 50 degrees or below, bring along a wind shell made of a waterproof material like nylon. This top layer is essential when it’s chilly outside since the rain can make you even colder, says Jurek. Although it won't keep you completely dry, the shell does an excellent job of keeping your core temperature up, holding in body heat, and therefore decreasing your risk of hypothermia, says Jurek. And think about wearing a visor or baseball hat, too, to stop the rain from getting in your eyes.
Seal Your Electronics
To keep your phone or iPod safe while running through the rain, look for workout gear that has inside pockets for your devices, says Jurek. And although that's a good start, since those pockets might not keep electronics completely dry, you might also consider shelling out some extra cash for a waterproof case. If you don't run in the rain often enough to justify the purchase, Jurek says you can seal your phone in a closeable plastic bag.
Do a Shoe Check
Take a peak at the bottom of your go-to running shoes. If they're smooth on the bottom, says Jurek, it's going to be very hard for you to run without slipping. To be ready for the rain, your kicks should have grooves on their soles that are deeper than one millimeter. These channels allow water to run through them and also help the shoes get a better grip on the road, he says. If you want to keep your feet drier and warmer, you might want to pick up a new pair of shoes that feature waterproof fabric like Gore-Tex. Otherwise, it’s very likely that your feet are going to get wet—most running shoes feature mesh to let your feet breathe. Though there's not much you can do about the mesh on your shoes, wearing thinner socks, which don't absorb as much water, will keep soggy feet from weighing you down, says Jurek.
Modify Your Usual Run
If you think that a rainy-day run is the perfect time to work on sprint intervals or beat your PR, you would be wrong, says Jurek. "If you're training for an event by doing a specific speed workout or trying to hit a certain time goal, it's better to jump on the treadmill because the weather will probably reduce your speed," he says. In fact, the rain could add as much as two minutes per mile to your time, says Jurek. Plus, that kind of training on a slippery road can put you at risk for injury—pushing off and landing on that surface puts more demands on your muscles and connective tissues. Instead, use this run to work on endurance training and embrace the resistance the rain provides, says Jurek.
In addition to skipping your speed workouts, you should also modify your stride for running on a wet road, he says. By taking quicker, shorter strides—about 85 to 90 strides per minute—you reduce the amount of time you spend on the slippery surface, which decreases your risk of wiping out.
Finally, when encountering puddles and corners, Jurek says to bend your knees about 10 degrees more to lower your center of mass and prevent your body from becoming rigid. This helps protect against Achilles and hamstring injuries you might get from straining your body as you leap or turn.
And Remember: Hit the Treadmill Instead If…
It's Thunder Storming. If there's lightening in the sky, stay inside, says Jurek. "Even as a diehard runner, I'm very cautious about lightening." And hey, if it’s a good enough reason for professional sports teams to cancel events, it's a good enough reason for you to hit pause or run indoors.
It's Very Windy. When it’s windy and rainy, your body can cool down really quickly, says Jurek. And though running against the resistance of the wind can be fun and challenging, you shouldn’t attempt the run if the wind gusts are higher than 40 miles per hour. "That's when it can really impede your workout by messing with your form," he says. "It gets unsafe."
You Want to Run Fast. As previously mentioned, slick roads are very hard on your muscles and connective tissue, especially your Achilles and hamstrings. So if you want to get a speedy workout in, it’s best to hit the gym or wait until the rain clears.
Video Running in the rain
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