No Raining on this (Running) Parade!
By Ally Bowersock, Ph.D. CSCS
Rain doesn't have to spell 'disaster' for your outdoor running plans, and with planning on your part, you can actually enjoy your rainy day miles. Here are a few key go-to accessories for an enjoyable, albeit damp, outdoor run.
Anti-chafe (we carry Bodyglide): this is a staple for anyone, not just folks running in the rain. Anywhere you may experience friction on your body, especially the bra and panty line, back of your arms, thighs- these areas are prone to chafing and can bring you quite a shock in the shower if you aren't already aware they are there! These products come in sticks like deodorant and can be used anywhere on your skin where friction may occur. There are smaller tubes that better reach smaller areas like the feet and ankles, and there is gel product similar to Vasoline- but they all serve the same purpose. These are great gifts for the athlete in your life who travels a lot for races and cannot have enough anti-chafe on-hand (and definitely something you don't want to be without on race day!).
Wicking socks: the unsung hero of a comfortable running and walking experience! Socks can make or break your enjoyment of a run and how a shoe feels! Textile material notwithstanding, the size of socks is paramount for blister prevention. If there is just a bit too much room anywhere in a sock, you are much more likely to develop blister as air pockets and moisture can accumulate in the "free space" around your toes and under the balls of your feet. Now assuming the sizing is correct, the type of material used in socks is also very important. Like the clothing you wear, wicking material in socks ensures moisture is able to evaporate off your feet (assuming you have quality shoes that allow for breathability, too). If you're running in the rain, you will be surrounded by moisture, so the key is that you are not trapping additional moisture in your socks and on your skin as this buildup can lead to blisters as well. If you're running for long distances, you may want to consider bringing a second dry pair of socks and even a second pair of shoes to swap into halfway through your workout. You're going to get wet running in the rain, the key is to minimize trapping moisture anywhere on your body and your feet are the most prone to blister-related issues when moisture is present. Quality wicking socks are worth the investment, you can verify this with most anyone you ask!
Brimmed hat or visor: pretty straightforward if you ask us- you want to keep water out of your eyes so that you can see where you are going? Hats are here to help. Your hair will be wet regardless, but some running caps like the one worn by Julie are designed to help encapsulate hair so that you're minimizing the amount of moisture on your head and scalp as well as diverting water away from your eyes. Most of these hats and visors also have a wicking sweat band on the inside- pulling double-duty for you by absorbing sweat and protecting your eyes from the elements.
Water-resistant jacket: depending on your comfort level with rainy-day running, a water-resistant jacket may be in the cards of an investment you want to make. The Brooks All-Altitude Jacket (modeled by Julie) comes in a variety of colors and is a great fitness wardrobe staple if you refuse to get your miles in on a treadmill vs. outside. This lightweight, packable jacket is water and wind-resistant, features two snack pockets, and folds tightly into itself so that if you choose to ditch it during your run, you can easily carry it in your hand or shove it in your fuel belt and be on your way. These jackets to insulate temperature very well, so you won't need lots of long layers underneath it to stay warm and dry. Usually a wicking tank or tee under one of these types of jackets is sufficient for temperature maintenance without being overheated AND dry.
That's about it, folks! If you're running in the rain, you will get wet- there's no way around it. But investing in a few key accessories can improve the overall experience of your run so that a little rain isn't raining on your mileage parade and you can still enjoy the beautiful outdoors that makes running so rewarding. Well that, and staying consistent with your group run plans- so you can all be sloppy wet running friends TOGETHER!