Splish, splash

Hey, April Showers.  You are tardy to the party.  It’s mid-May.

Today was one of those days where the rain was just relentless in the city.  Puddles formed absolutely everywhere – including over most of the East 6th Street track, which looked like a small lake.  Track workout tonight?  Not so much.

But while the inches of water on the ground were kind of a problem today, I have to say: I don’t really mind running in the rain.  In fact, I kind of enjoy it.

Maybe it’s because I grew up running in wet Washington state, but there is something rather refreshing about sloshing through a rainy run.  I vividly remember splashing joyfully through puddles on our local trails as a teenager, then coming home to parental scolding about how “someday when you have to buy your own running shoes, you won’t seek out the deepest part of the puddle.”  (And, um, they were totally right.)

Then in college, in Southern California, some of my best running memories are from the season of track where we were hit by El Nino – meaning, lots and lots of rain.  The entire team stripped down to the bare minimum of clothing and we splashed our way through killer intervals on the track as the skies opened up and soaked the desert around us.  At the time, it might have been miserable, but in retrospect it was an absolute blast.

And now?  I never let a little rain stop me from running.  Sure, I may groan about it a bit – but once I’m out the door, I’m loving it.  Which was a good thing today, because it was sloppy out there.

I often get questions from newbies to the running world about how to run in the rain, so I’ll give you my best advice. Tips on running in the rain from a native Pacific Northwestern-er:

Embrace it.  Once you’re wet, you’re wet.  Yes, the first couple of minutes kind of suck, but once you’re soaked to the bone, you don’t have to shirk from raindrops or dodge puddles any more.  It’s fun and liberating!

Go naked.  Or as close to it as you can.  Unless it’s really (really!) cold, I prefer to run in a fitted tank top or just a sports bra when it’s pouring.  The less clothing you are wearing, the less there is to get soaked and weigh you down.  Avoid anything baggy or cotton-based and go for fitted technical fabrics instead.  Remember, if it can move around, there is a good chance it’ll rub you the wrong way when it’s wet. Tighter is better.

Wear old shoes.  Because they’re gonna get soaked.  And it will take them a couple of days to dry fully.  If you only have one pair and you must wear them in the rain, stuff them with newspaper and place them in a warm (but not hot) place, like near (but not on) a heater to speed up the drying process.

Save face.  Wearing a hat or visor keeps the drips out of your eyes and makes running in the rain much more enjoyable.  However, beware if it’s windy – it might blow off your head.

Braid your tail.  Long ponytail + wet hair flopping around = tangled disaster.  A braid is better.  I actually prefer two braids.  (But that is also because I enjoy looking like a 30-year-old Pippi Longstocking.)

Don’t dawdle.  Standing or sitting around in your wet clothes is asking to get sick – not to mention the fact that it’s highly uncomfortable.  Hop in the shower right away when you get home.  If you’re driving, pack a towel to wipe down with and a fluffy fleece or sweatshirt to throw on to combat chills on the drive home.

Seek trees.  Heavily wooded trails or paths often offer a respite from driving rain.  The downside is that you might have mud to contend with.  Choose your poison!  (And also, don’t be stupid – see below!)

Don’t be stupid.  If there is a threat of thunder and/or lightning, don’t run.  If there are ridiculous winds, don’t run – unless you want a surprise make-out session with a tree branch.  Hail often shows up suddenly and unexpectedly – if it does, seek cover until it’s over.  No workout is worth risking your safety.

That’s all I’ve got.  I’ve been running in the rain successfully for over a decade now, and I can say that although it can be challenging, it’s also rewarding.  Although there are times when the rain is most unwelcome – like during a long race, as those who endured the MORE Half Marathon here in NYC last month will attest – generally I find it pretty fun!

And there is nothing like being the only person on your normally-crowded running path – until you pass a fellow runner and you exchange that look that says: “Yeah, we are badasses.  Treadmills are for pussies.”

Today’s EAT:  Lack of motivation for cooking a real dinner tonight.  That means: gussied-up pizza!

Thin-crust cheese pizza + chicken sausage, sauteed onions and sundried tomatoes.  Absolutely delicious.  I often find that splitting a thin-crust pizza like this is a perfect meal for the two of us.

Today’s DRINK: I ordered wine from FreshDirect this week instead of doing a Trader Joe’s run.  Laziness is not rewarded.

This Viogner-Chardonnay is really just okay.  Not super impressed.

Today’s RUN: So the flooded track ruined our group track workout.  But that was okay, since I’m in my mini-taper anyway!  The outer lanes weren’t flooded, so I joined up with a couple of teammates who are also racing on Saturday and we did three mellow miles, spiced up with a handful of tempo surges.  Along with warm up and cool down, around 6 miles total.

Today’s QUESTION: Do you enjoy running in the rain? Or am I the only crazy one?


13 responses to “Splish, splash

  1. Hood tips. I live in Portland, Oregon–land of rain. And I hate, hate, hate the idea of running in the rain. I’ve been caught out in the rain before and it actually isn’t as bad as I think. But…still don’t like it.

  2. I have never run in the rain before… but after reading this post it’s something I want to try!!! Our weather guy keeps saying it’s going to rain, but it’s been beautiful here for the past 4 or 5 days!

    Next time it’s pouring and I’m bored… I think I’ll go run 🙂

  3. Thank you Shelby! I was seriously lacking motivation to do my run later (sad that I was dreading it 8 hours in advance) because I couldn’t decide if the treadmill or the rain was worse.

    Your post reminded me of how fun rainy workouts were in high school and I’m going to head out for a rainy run this afternoon…well, if the weather holds up!

  4. For some reason I cannot get myself to start my run when it’s already raining, but if it starts raining mid-run, I totally love it!

  5. I had never thought about braiding my hair before running in the rain, but that’s genius. If I’m going to be too lazy/cheap to get a haircut, I should at least maintain the too-long hair I have. You’re a winner! Thanks Shelby!

    And I do run in the rain, but I don’t love it. Sometimes, if I’m in the right mood, it’s tolerable, but I get all pissy when cars splash me.

  6. Great tips. I don’t mind running in the rain either — I’d much prefer it to running in the wind.

    Also: el nino. That’s Spanish for “the nino.” Heh.

  7. Nice job on getting to the track! The weather was seriously brutal yesterday.

    And that pizza looks amazing. Cook for me please? I’ve been eating pb & j for far too many meals lately, heh.

  8. I love running in the rain, but this love has gotten me into some dangerous situations a la hail and lightning before. Whoops! I do love the crazy-rain-runner acknowledgment “nod” when seeing someone else out there. Same goes for super cold winter running around here, too.

  9. The colder and wetter it is outside, the more I like running. I just can’t do sunny and hot out!

  10. @Bree and @simplyshaka – I am glad I am not the only one! I’d take cold rain any day over heat and humidity!

  11. I’m cool running in the rain as long as I am near the apartment so that I can change reasonably quickly after finishing up. Body temp issues. :-/

    LOL at “Go Naked” – wifey’s giving me a hard enough time about no wedding ring. Naked would cause conflict.

  12. Pingback: Neither rain nor heat nor gloom … « Chasing Life Impatiently

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