What To Wear When Running In the Rain

When you run every day of the year, it is inevitable that there is going to be some running in the rain and in wet conditions involved. The question comes up, what should I wear when either:

  • It is already raining, or
  • It looks very likely that it is going to rain

What you wear in the rain is going to depend a great deal more on the temperature rather than the dampness, in my opinion. Speaking totally for myself, I pack my training bag with gear based on whether the day is likely to be warm, mild or cold.

Running In the Summer Rain

To be honest, in summer months I make no change to my running wardrobe. I still run in a singlet, shorts, socks and shoes. I don a running cap, but being bald that never changes. I guess, what I don’t include are my sunglasses.

Before You Put Clothes On…

The big necessity is to protect yourself from chafing. Here’s where there might be a slight difference of opinion depending on the products you’re used to applying. I’m a bit old-school so I use Vaseline but all the cool kids use Glide which is available in just about any running shop you might walk into.

A necessary addition that I make in wet weather is a liberal smearing of Vaseline in all of the important touch points around my body. Groin, nipples and underarms get a dose. It only takes one or two runs that end with a couple of red stains on the front of your singlet to convince you that the use of Vaseline when it’s wet is a very good idea.

When it all comes down to it, I really enjoy running in the summer rain.

Running In the Winter Rain

This is a whole different kettle of fish. Winter rain usually also means cold, windy and miserable conditions. Preparing for a moderate to long run in winter rain is a mental battle.

“I really need to get this run completed – but I’m not looking forward to it.”

You know it’s going to be unpleasant, you know you’re going to finish it soaked and there’s probably going to be unexpected parts of you rubbed raw with some type of chafing.

So, just like when you run in the summer rain, Vaseline (or Glide) is a necessity. That never changes.

Because I live in Sydney, Australia, the temperatures never really fall below freezing so I don’t have to dress for extreme temperatures. But that also means I’m a bit of a wimp when the mercury falls and what is quite pleasant for some people is icy cold for me.

So, when it rains in the winter I tend to layer up.

My preference is to wear a t-shirt with a singlet on over the top. As long as my chest is kept reasonably warm and protected I am pretty happy in the rain. I find that by putting the singlet on as the outer layer I am not troubled by a layer of material clinging to the skin. The outer layer will also provide some protection from the wind which can instantly chill you to the core when it blows on a wet t-shirt.

The Legs – Cover Them or Not?

The balance between adding more material that is going to get drenched and protecting yourself from becoming overly cold and damp can be a tricky one. Speaking personally, I save wearing my long tights for colder days. A wet day will also prompt me to put them on underneath my running shorts as extra insulation.

Socks

In theory, the socks you wear in the rain should be crucial. After all, if you get blisters your run – and the following few runs – is going to be quite painful.

But I can’t ever remember finishing a wet weather run with newly developed blisters.

I’ve got a few theories about why this may be:

  • I wear good quality running socks – Thurlo Experia padded socks
  • My socks get wet in dry weather from sweat
  • I’ve been running a long time (over 25 years, remember) and my feet have hardened up
  • My shoes are older and fit well meaning no movement which is a prime reason for blisters to develop

In short, I don’t think it is necessary to go out of your way to change the types of socks you wear just because it is raining. I’ve also heard of people trying to wrap their feet in plastic bags or taping up their socks to stop the rain getting in. Not recommended and not necessary in my opinion.

Running Jacket / Spray Jacket

Some people have a preference for running in a lightweight rain jacket. I’ve never worn one so I can’t exactly recommend them. A guy I regularly run with wears a wet weather jacket and swears by his. By the end of our runs he looks just as wet as me but I would concede that it probably takes longer for him to get wet and he is more protected from the elements.

The thing that makes me hesitate about buying and wearing a jacket lies in whether or not I would get overheated. I’ve never worn one in training so I wouldn’t wear one in a race.

Running Cap

I always wear a running cap no matter what the weather is. I am pretty much bald and my cap is essential sun protection for the top of my head.

In wet weather the cap is also a valuable item of clothing that helps to keep the rain out of my eyes. And while it’s not much, the thin layer of fabric on my head provides a bit of a buffer from the rain. With the peak jammed down low I can almost imagine I am not running in the rain…almost.

Gloves

If you are prone to becoming affected by the cold it will also pay to put on your running gloves. Sure, they’re going to get wet but they will also keep your fingers and hands warm and that ultimately means you’re going to feel a little warmer too.

I hate running with cold fingers and really appreciate wearing my running gloves, particularly if it’s wet and there is a cold wind blowing.

To be honest, my simple layering process with my shirt and singlet is my most reliable tactic when running in the rain. It gives me a seemingly crucial layer of insulation that ensures that I will get to the end of a wet running session feeling relatively comfortable.

That being said, the lure of a hot shower is a great incentive to get to the finish line.

So what is your crucial piece of equipment that you need to put on to get through a rainy run?

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