If you haven’t yet experienced the joy of running in the rain because you’re worried about getting wet, I’m here to put your mind at ease.
You’re right. You’re going to get wet.
But I guarantee, based on a lifetime (minus 8 years) of experience, you’re not going to melt.
Once you’ve crossed that mental bridge, it’s all good. And with a few tips, running in the rain can be memorable and fun, and it might just get a little of your inner child going too.
Once you’ve decided you’re okay with charging out in a downpour, there’s only one indispensable piece of gear you need to have.
A ball cap. With a good long brim.
It’ll keep the water out of your eyes and off your face, the only places where unwanted water can make things a touch miserable.
You probably already have a ball cap around the house. Just dig it out of the drawer and you’re good to go.
Everything else is just nice-to-have.
Staying Dry(er) on Top
First among the nice-to-haves though, is a decent running jacket. One of the only other things that can douse a rainy day run is lugging a ton of water around out there with you.
A good running jacket will minimize that. What you want is a jacket that will keep rain from coming in but also let perspiration out. Jackets made of materials like Gore-Tex, HyVent, and H2No do exactly that.
It should also have vents to let the heat out, as well as some form of liner to keep you from rubbing directly against the jacket wall which might get you wet(ter).
Many rain jackets come with a hood. I find it difficult to hear properly with them on, making them, in my mind, less than safe. And they’re hot.
Go with the ball cap. Hoods? Don’t need ’em.
How About Rain Pants?
Years ago I had a pair of grey Gore-Tex rain pants I used as wind breakers during cold snaps in winter. They worked tremendously for that. But the two to three times a year I pressed them into service as rain pants, they tanked. After about three blocks of a steady downpour, the pants were soaked through and about as comfortable as wet jeans. Designs have improved, but I’d say, for simplicity…
Try tights. They don’t shed water, but they also don’t take on water (and weight) the longer you’re out there.
This will be where you notice the water first. You’re feet will be surprisingly toasty warm and dry until that first big puddle jumps in the way. Then it’s pretty much slosh-ville.
You kind of have two choices at this point.
You can wish you’d bought some shoes with GoreTex uppers, built to shed water and keep the tootsies warm and dry. They’ll work – to a point. Depending on how deep puddle #1 was.
You can charge into puddle #2.
This takes some discernment – i.e., make sure it’s not in fact a car-swallowing hole – but there’s nothing like charging with reckless abandon into a body of water.
Quick question. When you were a kid, and you had your rain boots on, how many big puddles did you miss?
Wear as tight-fitting clothes as possible underneath your jacket. A tee-shirt or long-sleeved tee is terrific, and the tighter the better.
Two reasons you want them tight.
First, you want some space between the running jacket and your body. No matter how breathable the material of your jacket, if you’re out there long enough, you’re going to have sweat and condensation forming on the inner wall of your running jacket. Which will make your clothes wet in no time.
The second reason is that if things are wet inside, and loose, they’ll start to rub in all the wrong places. The only good rubbing is, ultimately, no rubbing.
Wear snug clothes.
Special Gear – Glasses
If you wear glasses, running in the rain can be a pain.
I don’t quite yet need my glasses running, but the consensus among spectacle wearers is to use contacts. They argue that contacts are much easier to put on and are now just plain better than they ever used to be.
Some people have had success with Rain-X (Plastic) on glasses as well as other, more tailor-made, products such as Raincoat from MotoSolutions.
For starters, though, I would try out the low-tech solution of the day. A ball cap. It’s apparently excellent at keeping the rain off your glasses.
So many uses, so little money.
Treat a rainy day like you would night time.
If you wear lights for night runs, put them on. A head-light and a tail light (one that you can attach to your jacket), are great. A reflective vest and reflective piping and patches on your tights and shoes – also great. The more that improves your odds of being seen out there, the better.
And the less you expect that they can see you, regardless of how you’re lit up, the safer you’ll be.
No matter how much you enjoy running, and it’s good in the rain I can assure you, the main objective is to arrive alive.
So, be seen.
The summer I was 8, my dad and I were out in the woods fishing off a favourite beaver dam. We’d been there for a few hours without a nibble when it started to rain. The light was getting low so I reeled in and began to find my way off the dam.
“Where are you going?” my Dad said.
“Dad, we’re going to get wet.” I replied.
He grinned and threw his line back in. “Watch” he said, “Now they’ll start to bite.”
His line almost immediately twitched with some nibbles from below.
“See!” he whispered. “Don’t worry. We’re not made of sugar. We’re not going to melt.”
If you get a chance, get out there in the rain.
And get the kid going in you again.
You’re not going to melt.
If you have an interesting experience running in the rain or just want to share, I’d love to hear your comments below.
See you out there!
A great website. Plenty of extremely useful information. Walking (me) running (you) in the rain, especially here in the U.K can be an absolute pain. And you’re right, the most important piece of gear is the jacket. The info you gave on the jackets, positive and negative was very helpful and having an image was just the cherry on the top. Will certainly look at getting one of them.
Thank you Roy. Much appreciate it. And yes Rain = Wet, pretty much no matter what. Still, it does help to have something to delay the inevitable. Good to hear from the voice of deep experience as I believe you’re renowned for liquid sunshine in your neck of the woods.
All the best!
Great Article! I love your site. It is so easy to navigate and read. I love what you said about running in the rain. Once you get over the fact that you are going to get wet, you find it to be pretty enjoyable. I know this from experience, It is pretty fun. I think more people need to read your post and get inspired, They need to know they won’t melt. Once again great read.
Thanks Kenny. And for sure, once you accept the fact that you’re going to get wet it can be fun – and even more fun when you stop avoiding puddles!
All the best out there!
Hi Larry, great post and I think your tips on running in the rain are very interesting. The first minute is tough going but once your out there in the rain it is so enjoyable and peaceful. The only difficulty I have is running when the rain is freezing cold and the wind chill really gets to you. Would you suggest any products that can solve the freezing cold rain???
David, yes, freezing cold rain is probably the least fun. If it’s starting to get miserable and close to 0C (32F) like that I’ll just add another t-shirt (either long- or short-sleeved) under the GoreTex shell. And some thin gloves. You’re still going to get wet, but if your core is warm it’ll make the rest of you happier.
Hey if we’re out running in that, it’s hilarious anyway. 🙂
Thanks for the comment and we’ll see you out there when it’s soaking down.
I love running in the rain. Your story about your dad was the best. Reminds me of playing in the rain as a child. Anytime its raining and it’s not storming we’re out there in it playing. Rain doesn’t stop us from having fun! As far as running on cool rainy days that’s what I find difficult, what rain jacket do you suggest for those days?
Guy, thanks for this. I agree, cool (cold?) rainy days are a little more difficult but I usually go with my regular rain jacket (GoreTex) and a long-sleeved t-shirt. I’m usually good with that until it gets down to -5C or so, when the snow stops being wet.
It’s tricky when the weather gets cold and it’s raining…sometimes there’s not much you can wear to stay warm. Gloves, ball cap, jacket – all work okay for a while. But if you’re out for a long one in a cold steady rain, might have to look at it as half fun (the first half) and the other half as heading home to a nice warm house?
Cheers! See you out there!
I used to be in the military and there was a saying ‘If it ain’t rainin’ it ain’t trainin’. Personally, if I am determined enough to run, rain is not going to stop me. And I think the only additional thing I would wear is the hat you mentioned. Given that you are probably going to sweat into your clothes anyway and put them in the wash straight after, it should matter if they get wet! I think people who are not phased by the rain when running are the ones who are the really serious committers to their running and also the ones who are most likely to stick to their exercise goals. Thanks for the inspiration!
Liz, thanks for the military insight! If it ain’t rainin’ it ain’t trainin’. I love it. I agree, the ones who are serious are the ones most likely to be out there in all sorts of weather. Hopefully there can be some fun in there too.
Not that I’m imagining trainin’ in the rain (in the military) was much fun.
Thanks for the comment!
Great advice. Love the story about Dad. So true.