How to Prepare For a Rainy Race Day

© Augustas Cetkauskas |

Many on the East Coast know this story too well: You train hard for your big race. You are feeling ready to accomplish the goal. Then the 10 day forecast comes and you see… rain and more rain.

This doesn’t have to ruin your race, and if you are prepared, you might find yourself with a new PR even in less than ideal weather.

So how can you prepare for a rainy race?

Train in inclement weather

It can be easy to want to run on a treadmill in bad weather but remember, you can’t control race day. Getting out there when maybe you don’t want too can help make racing a little easier. You’ll know what gear works best for you and you will be mentally tougher.

Stay warm and dry for as long as possible

The worst thing you can do for any race is start cold and wet. Your muscles may never warm up. Don’t be afraid to cut your warm up short so you can stay warmer.

When it’s finally time to start the race, consider a throwaway on top or even trash bags to keep you as dry as possible. Heck, I’ve seen people race in a trash bag to prevent rain from seeping through.

Dress appropriately

If there is one thing we learned from the Boston Marathon is clothing choice becomes more critical. Running in the cold rain is very different than running in the warm rain.

Don’t be afraid to wear a waterproof jacket on race day. Des Linden ran her marathon in a waterproof jacket, and we know how that ended!

It’s important to stay warm but not have too many layers that will become soggy and weigh you down. Technical fabric and the non-cotton material becomes more important in the rain.

Cotton fabric will become wet and heavy. Because of that, it’s essential to run in lightweight, breathable, and technical material.

Another recommendation is wearing a good hat. Personally, I like visors because I have a lot of hair but the brim keeps rain out of my eyes.

Prevent blisters and chafing

It’s much easier to get blisters and chafing in spots you never knew you could. Make sure to use something like Vaseline to keep friction at bay.

Footwear is key

This is something I never considered until I ran a very windy, rainy, race, down the shore in Atlantic City. The boardwalk was very slick, and my racing flat was not a good choice.

Make sure the waterproof running shoe you are racing in has enough traction for a bad weather day. The constant sliding on a slick surface with fatigued muscles is an easy way to land an injury.

Watch your step

Sometimes puddles can hide potholes or dangerous areas on the course. Take extra precautions and even take turns slower. Losing a few seconds in a race is a lot better than injuring yourself and losing weeks or even months or running.

If possible, try to keep your gaze on the ground ahead so you can identify any hazards before they are under your feet.

Just do it!

We can’t change the weather, and it’s important to remember that. Control what you can control including your attitude. We all know running in bad weather is unpleasant!

Remember that you’ve had excellent training and it’s important to focus on the process. Sometimes that means leaving your watch and ego at home.

After the race, have dry clothes ready

Once your race is done, get into dry clothing. It will help prevent sickness. I always keep a towel in my car and an entire full set of clothing anyway.

So let us know:

  • What is the worst weather you’ve raced in?
  • How do you stay mentally tough in bad weather?

Hollie Sick is an avid New Jersey-based runner who’s completed more than 40 half marathons. Read her blog, or follow her on Facebook.

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