Understanding how to race in the rain is helpful for all runners, as weather can often change quickly and unpredictably on race day. Having a few tips and tricks in the back of your mind before race day can boost confidence, even if the weather forecast looks promising.
Is it hard to race in the rain?
Racing in the rain brings a few extra challenges and hurdles, but with the right preparation, gear and knowledge, it is easy to conquer a rainy race day.
Running a race in the rain is certainly never desirable, but many runners are surprised with how well they are still able to perform with the right preparation and mindset. A rainy race day often brings wind, complicates pre-race logistics and presents wardrobe challenges such as chafing and chills.
However, a little advanced preparation is all it takes to conquer these challenges and prevent them from effecting your performance.
How to Race in the Rain
With a little preparation, some targeted gear, and a slight adjustment to the schedule, running a race in the rain becomes no problem. Here are 10 tips for how to race in the rain successfully.
Use a garbage bag or poncho
There is absolutely nothing worse than starting a race when you’re already wet. It can seem like it’s impossible to stay dry when it’s already raining before the start – but luckily, there are a few cheap, portable and easily accessible options.
The best way to stay dry when waiting in the starting corrals before running a race is to wear either garbage bags or disposable ponchos. Turning a garbage bag upside down, cutting a hole for the head and arms, and then wearing it like a poncho is a great way to keep your clothes dry. When the race starts, simply take the bag off and dispose of it.
Wear a hat
Wearing a hat – specifically, a visor – is essential if you’re going to be running a race in the rain. Visors not only keep your head protected from rain, but they’ll help keep the rain out of your eyes once you start running.
Even the slightest bit of wind can be enough to blow the rain right in your face and make it difficult to open your eyes at certain portions of the race. Visors will keep the rain out of your eyes even with a bit of wind.
Adjust your race morning schedule
Most runners enjoy a slow morning schedule on race day, with the ability to arrive at the start early to fit in some bathroom stops, find the correct starting corral, and complete a few warm up exercises. However, if you’re going to be running a race in the rain, staying inside as long as possible is key.
Adjust your schedule on race morning so that you can get to the corrals as late as possible. Find a building or protected area nearby where you can complete your warm up exercises. Utilize bathrooms inside a nearby building or hotel, and be sure to stay protected whenever you do head outside.
Use Body Glide
One of the biggest obstacles runners face when running a race in the rain is chafing. When running clothes get wet, they stick to the skin and can cause chafing in areas that rub repeatedly with the running motion.
To prevent this, be proactive in using Body Glide before you even getting started racing in the run. Apply body glide (or another similar lubricant) to areas that are especially susceptible to chafing – armpits, sports bra, nipples (for men) and any other areas where clothing might rub.
It can be tempting to throw on a few extra layers just for “safe keeping” in case you get chilled on the run. However, wearing too many layers can often have the opposite effect. Layering up too much means that there is more opportunity for your clothes to get wet or soaked from the rain and keep you chilled.
Plan to dress similarly to how you would dress if it were not raining – with adjustments only based on the ‘real feel’ temperature and wind.
Bring extra shoes and socks
Regardless of how careful you are, your shoes and socks are bound to get wet. Carrying extra socks in your fuel belt can be helpful if you’re running a race when it is raining pretty significantly. Having the option to change socks midway provides some peace of mind in case things get really wet.
Bringing extra shoes to either change into after the race, or change into just before the start will help your feet stay as dry as possible.
Use plastic bags
It’s important to evaluate your packing options and switch to plastic bags for storing any gear that might be exposed to rain. Plastic bags will keep all your gear and gadgets dry for pre and post race activities.
Keep your phone dry
Most runners rely on their phones now during and after a race to help them connect with spectators and take pictures. If you’re planning to bring your phone with you, you’ll want to take extra steps to ensure that it stays dry even if your belt or clothes get wet.
There are multiple dry bags and waterproof pouches available specifically for this purpose, however, if you find yourself in a pinch, a simple sandwich bag will usually suffice.
Pin bib to pants instead of shirt
A simple switch to make to help stay as comfortable as possible is to pin your race bib on your pants instead of your shirt. Shirts are more likely to get wet and stick to your skin than pants. A wet, sticky shirt is uncomfortable enough without the added layer of a bib on top of it.
Dress in layers
If it looks like you will be running a race in the rain, you’ll want to adjust your race day outfit to contain as many layers as possible. It is hard to predict the ‘real feel’ temperature when there is rain or wind, and body temperature often fluctuates depending on how wet one might feel at any given time.
Dressing in layers provides options throughout a race and helps you stay as flexible as possible on the run. Taking off a layer can help prevent heavy clothing once they get wet, and keeping it tied around your waist might allow it to dry off and be there if you get chilled later on.
Learning how to race in the rain is beneficial for all runners – whether you have an upcoming rainy race or not. Weather can be unpredictable, especially in peak racing seasons during the spring and fall. Understanding what changes to make if you ever find yourself surprised by a rainy race day will help you stay confident and prepared.