How to Make it to the Finish Line on a Rainy Race Day
When things get soggy, keep moving with these runner-tested tips.
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If you have a race on your calendar that’s expected to get a bit sloshy with a strong chance of soaked shoes, we’ve definitely been there and can relate. You can control your training program, food intake, and gear, but you can’t control the weather. Rain or shine, the race will go on. You’ve done all the hard work leading up to it—so don’t let a rainy race day stop you from conquering the course.
In case Mother Nature decides to give you one more challenge from start to finish—as if the race itself wasn’t challenging enough—here are a few tips to help you stay dry without racing to the store and buying a rain jacket. Whether you’re navigating 26.2 miles, sloshing through 13.1, or splashing your way through your very first 5K in a notoriously rainy city, these tips will ensure you have the best race day possible:
1. Prioritize Staying Dry Before the Race
If it’s raining, you’re going to get wet. However, it’s important to stay dry as long as possible before you start running. When you’re clothes get wet, they’ll start to get heavy. If you stay dry before the race, you’re preventing your clothes from weighing you down before you even get going.
It’s important to warm up before a race, so try to stay inside as long as possible. Running coach Dr. Jason Karp, suggests racers sit in the car for a bit longer or find a nearby building or café. Keep warm and do dynamic stretches to loosen up. “If you can’t get inside, wear a garbage bag or some other protective layer on top of your racing clothes until just before the start of the race,” says Karp.
RELATED: The 5 Rules of Warming Up for a Run
2. Pick Your Clothing Carefully
Avoid cotton and loose fitting clothes and opt for light apparel. Cotton or cotton-mixed fabric soaks up water and makes your clothes heavy to run in. Wear dri-wicking material; this way your clothes won’t hold the moisture.
Also, make sure you’re running attire is as light as possible. If it is going to rain the entire race, wearing apparel that is light even when it is wet will save from feeling weighed down.
If you can, wear form fitting clothes. Loose shorts tend to ride up when wet—not to mention, they become uncomfortable and unattractive—so the tighter the apparel, the better. This will also help prevent chafing, which will only be aggravated by soaked legs.
3. Pay Attention to Your Feet
On rainy race days, your sock choice is very important. Similar to the above, avoid cotton socks. Make sure your socks are made from man-made fibers that are designed for running. Cotton socks will soak up water and make your shoes extremely heavy, squishy, and squeaky throughout the entire race—talk about mid-race discomfort.
Karp suggests wearing two pairs of thin socks to try to keep your feet dry and to powder your feet, which will help manage the moisture.
Consider using a water repellent spray on your shoes as well. This will keep your shoes dry, which help prevent heavy, wet feet and blistering. Check the weather in advance because you’ll need to spray your shoes about 24 hours before you need to wear them for the solution to dry and set.
4. Aim To Prevent Chafing
Use body glide or petroleum jelly anywhere on your body that you think may get irritated. Rain makes chafing worse, so prevent the pain and lather up—even in areas that have never bothered you before. You’re better safe and over-glided than sorry and covered in inflamed hot spots.
This is good advice for any race day–even when it’s not pouring outside.
5. Wear a Hat
There’s nothing worse than your face getting wet and the salty water dripping down into your eyes—ouch! Wearing a brimmed hat will keep water out of your face when running. Plus you need to keep your focus on the road to avoid wet potholes and slipping—twisted ankles are worse than rain.
You can also opt for running sunglasses if you want to help your vision in gloomy scenarios–lighter tinted lenses are made just for that purpose. You still get the raindrop protection but don’t feel like you’re dipping into darkness the whole time.
RELATED: The Women’s Running Guide to Hats
6. Don’t Sweat A No-Rain-Jacket Situation
If you don’t have a rain-specific jacket, that’s okay. You can go to any drugstore and get a poncho, fold it up, and place it in your run pocket or fuel belt. If it starts raining, you can throw this on to help you stay dry. It’s an easy solution for a rain storm you didn’t foresee coming.
7. Protect Your Phone
If you run with music or just keep your phone on you to be able to find your people at the finish line, make sure you wrap your device in a waterproof case or plastic baggy to avoid it from getting wet. If you’re fine without music and you’ve set a meetup location, it’s best to leave it at home.
8. Bring Extra Clothes
By the end of the race, you are going to be more than ready to ditch the wet duds. Pack an extra set of clothes to change into post-race—just make sure it stays dry! It’s important to keep warm once you cross the finish line to avoid muscle stiffness and coldness. Plus, you want to be comfortable at the post-race party. Throw a towel in your car or checked bag as well.
9. Stay Connected for Race-Day Updates
Participant safety is a race’s number one concern and sometimes weather can quickly escalate from a light rain to thunderstorms. Make sure to stay connected on race day by checking the event website, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. This is the best way for race officials to communicate race day updates or alerts.
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