Can we have a great race in the rain?
Heck yeah! It’s inevitable if we are around the running scene long enough that we will have to race in the rain. Whatever your experience, there are unique considerations for how to race in the rain that warrant attention. This article will equip you with those considerations. We recommend practical tips on both how to prepare to race in the rain and how to best execute your race day.
Preparing to Race in the Rain
While preparing to race in the rain we want to consider our apparel choices and race day prep. In devising our preparations, we also engage in our mental preparedness for the upcoming rainy race.
Having a game plan by visualizing and collecting what we may need is a great practice for any big event on the horizon.
Below are some unique considerations for how to prepare to race in the rain.
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♦ Consider taller socks.
We do not want to wear our lowest no-show socks for a race in the rain. Consider ankle high or tall socks to eliminate the wet rub between shoe and ankle.
Make sure the socks are also made of non-friction material. Avoid cotton.
♦ Less clothing is better.
With rain often comes lower temps and we may be tempted to add many layers to our race-day kit. The more material we have, the greater the opportunity to absorb water as well as chafe.
Consider a singlet with arm sleeves instead of a long sleeve. If you are cold at the start, bring something you can easily take off at the start line.
♦ Wear a lot before the race.
Considering the “less is better” from above, it’s worth noting that we want to wear A LOT before our races so our race attire underneath remains dry.
If there is not a gear check, you may need to stash your warm up gear. In that case, don’t bring your favorite stuff in case it gets stolen.
♦ Bring garbage bags.
Before the race, if you don’t want to risk losing your clothes, you could wear a garbage bag or old space blanket.
You may also want to have a garbage bag in the seat of your car for the return home.
♦ Pack a towel (or two).
This may go without saying, but if you’re using this article as a checklist, don’t forget to bring a towel for after the race.
♦ Lube strategically.
It’s always a good idea to prevent/reduce chafing by using lubricant before races. While racing in the rain it’s even more important.
♦ Consider a hat.
A hat or visor can significantly help our ability to see in the rain. Better visibility also helps a runner to focus during a race, leading to better performance.
Not all hats are created equal. This is definitely an opinion from personal experience here, but hats with Velcro seem to easily come undone. Choose a hat with a snap, elastic, or adjustable strap.
Along the topic of adjusting hats, make sure it’s very snug. The wind and rain combo can whip your hat off your head if it’s not very tight.
♦ Bring extra EVERYTHING.
Bring extra of everything for your race in case there is a delay. It is also wonderful to have fresh clothes and shoes after your race.
Many races do not have a gear check so lay out your fresh outfit in your car.
♦ Leave the phone.
Carrying and wearing less is better in a rainy race. Remember that one of the services of most races is the event times the race for us. Fumbling with our devices in the rain may be a distraction for the run. It’s also easy to drop things, and if you can eliminate potential frustrations, do it!
Racing in the Rain
Accomplishing a successful race in the rain is possible. We may need to have more mental toughness, but that’s what our training is for, right? More than ever when we’re racing in adverse conditions, we need to be in control of our thoughts and plan to find success in the difficult moments.
♦ Know the course.
It’s always a good idea to be aware of the course map, but when racing in the rain, this knowledge can prove even more important. Because of the lack of visibility and difficulty seeing course markings or volunteers (especially if they are hiding from the rain), you want to know where you need to go.
♦ Avoid stepping on road lines and markings.
Painted lines and markings on the road are especially slippery in the rain (and orange cones, but that’s a story for another day).
♦ Look up.
We mentioned bringing a hat to help you with visibility. Not only is it important to see where we are going, but it is a flaw of many to hunch and look at the ground while racing in the rain.
Even if you cannot actually see very well, keep your head up, and your body will follow.
♦ Run light and quick.
During wet and slippery conditions, it is advantageous to keep your stride light and quick. A powerful push off on a slippery surface results in loss of some of that energy since you may experience slippage. Think light and quick!