For many runners, rain serves as a potential barrier to running safely and injury-free—regardless of the season.
“Safety is a huge component of rainy running,” says Heidi Lueb, a running and triathlon coach with Valor Triathlon Project in Portland, Ore. Here are her tips to help you run your best (and safest) when the rain starts pouring.
Follow A Familiar Route
In rainy weather, Lueb prefers to run on roads and trails she already knows well so she can anticipate potential hazards. She’ll skip routes that flood easily and stick to sidewalks over roads with painted lines, which can be slippery when wet. No matter where you run, watch carefully for obstacles, and don’t be afraid to slow down for fallen limbs, mud pits, large puddles and ice patches, she says. “Getting to the other side is more important than keeping the same pace. Ten seconds of safety isn’t going to compromise a good workout.”
Dark clouds and heavy precipitation can limit visibility even during daylight hours, so it’s important to make sure drivers, cyclists and other runners can see you, says Lueb. She recommends the Petzl Tikka headlamp for early-morning and late-evening runs, plus a high-visibility layer like the Amphipod Xinglet Strobe Plus reflective vest.
How you layer for a rainy run depends on the air temperature and whether you tend to overheat, Lueb says. For wet and cool weather, she prefers a light outer layer like the Oiselle Vim Jacket and a combination of a visor and ear warmer to protect her head and face while still allowing heat to escape. Lightweight, wicking and waterproof materials are your best bet for staying (relatively) dry and warm without getting weighed down by soaked clothing.
Protect Your Feet
Wet socks can cause painful hot spots on your feet, so Body Glide and merino wool are lifesavers for rainy runs, says Lueb. She wears Feetures Merino+ Cushion socks, which also keep feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and uses an anti-chafe balm to reduce friction and the chance of blisters. “They really are the key to happy feet,” she says.
Check Your Tread
With the increased risk of wet and slick surfaces during and after a rainstorm, it’s even more important that your running shoes have good traction, says Lueb. If the tread is worn down, it won’t help you grip the road or trail. Don’t wait until you slip and fall to replace a worn-out pair of shoes—even if you haven’t hit a certain mileage in your current pair.
Know When To Stay Inside
If the temperatures drop to near-freezing or you hear or see thunder or lightning, it’s okay to find an indoor alternative such as a track or treadmill. Don’t risk injury from falling on black ice or the stress of getting caught in a violent storm. “While it’s not ideal for those who love to be outside, the treadmill is a great training tool for specific pacing and being able to control the environment,” Lueb says. “Plus, you can watch TV!” (Check out some of our favorite treadmill workouts here.)