Readers Roundtable: How Do You Handle Running in the Rain?

Cinnamon running in the rainWhy is it always on the day that I passed up running in the beautiful crisp morning that it starts pouring right before I finally manage to head out the door? Ugh.

Running in the rain happens, and while the meek may run screaming for the nearest treadmill or even skip a run altogether, some of us don’t have any option for packing in the miles except sucking it up, regardless of precipitation. Still, back when I started training for my first big race, I used to panic at the first sign of a dark cloud! What do I wear? How do I manage? Oh, the horror! If you wear glasses, like your electronic gadgets or even if you just hate having wet socks, rain can put a damper on any runner’s day. Heyo.

With experience, I’ve discovered that I will not melt à la the Wicked Witch of the West. Not only can a good downpour turn an otherwise boring run into a great story, it can also be a lot of fun. I have my own tactics, but I’m curious to know yours. Do you have special gear? A particular shoe strategy? A mental tactic?

How do you approach running in the rain?

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Cinnamon made Salty Running, takes lots of pictures and drinks lots of coffee. By day she's a camera assistant for films and tv in New York, and by night she's on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is a mix of satirical humor, finding wholeness as an average runner, cheering for runners at all paces and more.

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19 comments

  1. I just laugh.

    This morning it was cloudy and there was supposed to be a chance of passing light showers. Instead, about a mile into my 12 mile run, it started raining, and pretty much kept up at a soaking rain pace the entire time. I was dripping, sopping, totally soaked. And really, once you are wet, who cares? So when it had let off and then came down harder then ever while I was still about 2.5 miles from home, I laughed out loud. I was running, it was warmer than usual at this time of year, and I felt great.

    1. I really enjoy running in the rain, but even so struggle to motivate myself to start running when it’s raining. But when it starts raining during a run, I don’t care that I don’t have all the gear on and what not. I love those runs when you have no idea it’s going to rain, but somewhere along the way it starts pouring out of nowhere. It’s fun! (unless there’s a lot of lightning – eek!)

      1. Totally get that about the hurdle of starting when it is raining – for me it only really depends on the temperature: where today was unseasonably warm (~62F) I would have gone anyway. But a more seasonal 40? Definitely have to push myself. I do agree with others and wish I had a hat this morning … oh well!

        Lightning – yes! One of my two ‘do not run’ conditions: active lightning, and heavy ice.

  2. My first run in the rain was done with my eyes closed – thanks to sweat, moisturizer, and product streaming down my forehead and breaching the great eyebrow barrier. Although I don’t like wearing a hat, having a bill to keep the rain and streamage out of my eyes makes running in the rain an absolute delight.

    Like Salty, I have trouble starting a run in the rain, but once I’m there, I love it.

  3. As long I I have a baseball cap on, I’m good. I don’t mind running in the rain – with the exception of torrential downpours 🙂

  4. Ditto on not liking starting in the rain but being okay if it starts while I’m already running. Hat or visor is a must — if I can keep the rain out of my eyes, it’s okay! If it’s a race situation, I switch socks. I’m usually a Balega Hidden Comfort girl, but in rainy situations I switch to something snugger. (My favorites are some old mystery Drymax ones, but something like a Feetures with the arch band would do the trick.) Also for racing I’ll go just a little snugger when I tie my shoes so they don’t get too lose once they get wet.

    I tend to get hot really quickly, so I don’t usually bother with a jacket. Then I’m just sweaty and wet inside the jacket, anyway. A lightweight vest can help when gets colder, though! (Ugh, rainy and 30s is not the best.)

  5. Yeah, I actually quite like running in the rain. I’ve even braved torrential downpours – you’re right, they make for great stories after the fact! I do wear glasses, so that is my biggest challenge, but… you deal. And like one of my running mentors told me, “You’re not a real runner until you just go ahead and run THROUGH the puddle.” LOL. I’ve pretty much run in every weather condition and they all seem to have their pros and cons. I’d rather run in rain than super hot weather, personally!

  6. I’m fine if the rain starts while I’m running, too. I’m going to get wet anyway. But boy, do I drag my feet getting out the door on a rainy day.
    Amen on the hat. I once contemplating wearing my goggles out the door. My neighbours already think I’m a lunatic, right?
    And for a mental edge, I’ll always remember the wise words of one coach I had: “If it rains on race day, then what? You don’t race?” Meaning, no, you’re probably going to race no matter what, so you should train for all weather conditions too.

  7. I’m fine with running in very light rain, but I avoid running in the rain otherwise. I’m clumsy, so I’m more apt to fall and hurt myself (my husband pretty much hates it when I want to go trail running because more often than not, I return home bloody). And if I run in heavy rain and get chilled, then I inevitably get sick with bronchitis because I have a delicate immune system. Call me a wuss.

  8. Love running in the rain, but I agree, the hardest part is stepping out the door. Brimmed hat, clothes to keep my body temp warm, body glide and wool socks. Double the socks if I’m out for a long time.

  9. Pacific Northwest runner here! Baseball/running hat is the absolute must, after that I advocate for layers rather than a running jacket specifically (borrowed one once & felt like I was running in a weird, humid tent). A tank under a long-sleeve does well, or double-long sleeve if it’s pretty cold, double-layer cheap stretchy gloves too. Another tip: layer up the Body Glide. Heavy tech fabric rubs more than usual- I always forget and end up with a chafed belly button (an outie now from pregnancy/separated abs). Running in the nasty rain is worse than it sounds, once you get going you warm up, I’d pick cold rain over hot/humid any day.

  10. Another Pacific Northwest runner here! A hat is a must, like Pimento said, as are layers so you have something dry against your skin. I also have a Patagonia Houdini that I swear by for cold rainy runs. Attitude makes the most difference. I’ve come to love running in the rain. also drink more warm tea and bone broth during rainy season to keep my immune system healthy and prevent post-run chills.

  11. I say a jacket is only good if it’s below 45ish at least. Otherwise, it is too warm. Waterproof mittens are quite a luxury for those temps and rain too!

  12. And one more from the PNW – As long as it’s not too cold and windy I usually wear less in the rain because I tend to get colder having lots of cold wet layers against my skin. I just wear a t-shirt and shorts and a hat and get very very wet.

    1. Another PNW runner here. I agree with Oregano- I get colder with wet clothes on my skin. As long as it is above 35 degrees, less is best. I always have to have waterproof gloves or mittens on though. I’ve been known to go out for a run in a tank top and ski-worthy mittens ☺️

  13. Timely post as I just ran my second rainy marathon of the year on Sunday – what are the odds? Like others, the visor or hat is key – as long as the rain isn’t in my eyes, it’s not as miserable. I still haven’t figured out the perfect socks though – my toes were a mess after 26.2 with wet feet both times.