In a perfect world, every run would be enjoyed in beautiful sunny weather with a pleasant breeze and mild temperatures.
However, we all know that we don’t have the power to control Mother Nature, and if you want to run outside every day, there will be days that you are running in the rain.
New runners are sometimes wonder whether it is safe or possible to run in the rain, and how to deal with wet clothes, wet running gear, and some of the other challenges of rainy day runs.
So, is it safe to run in the rain? Does running in the rain help build mental toughness? What do you wear to run in heavy rain?
In this guide, we will discuss the best tips for running in the rain, including what to wear, how to stay dry on rainy runs, and other tips for how to run in the rain more comfortably.
We will cover:
Let’s dive in!
Is Running in The Rain Safe?
As a certified running coach, I have found that many runners are concerned about the safety of running in the rain.
The good news is as long as you are prepared with the proper water-resistant running clothes and shoes with traction, running in the rain should be perfectly safe.
In fact, you don’t technically need a waterproof running jacket or water-resistant running clothes, but it will certainly make you more comfortable and help you stay dry.
The one caveat here is that running in thunderstorms with lightning could be dangerous, and you should wait until the storm passes or run indoors if there is thunder and lightning present.
Is Running in the Rain Healthy?
Running in the rain isn’t inherently less healthy than running in dry weather as long as you are properly prepared for the temperatures and have the appropriate waterproof running gear to stay relatively dry.
As soon as you are done running in bad weather, you should take off all of your wet running clothes and get into clean, dry clothes.
However, if you have a fever, you should never go running, whether or not it is raining.
Moreover, if you have an upper or lower respiratory infection, you might want to take a day off or run on the treadmill instead of running outside in a downpour.
It can be more difficult to regulate your body temperature if you are running in wet clothes, and if your feet get wet from deep puddles, you are setting yourself up for getting too cold.
Does Running Through the Rain Help you Become a Better Runner?
Running in the rain can help build mental toughness because it is certainly less comfortable than running in pleasant temperatures.
Most importantly, running on a rainy day will help prepare you for racing in the rain if you end up having a downpour on race day.
For example, the 2018 Boston Marathon race day surprised everyone with heavy rain and high winds.
If you never train in bad weather conditions, you will be much more anxious and unprepared for race day wet weather conditions, which can compromise your performance.
You also won’t have the tested experience of what you should wear running in the rain.
What are the Best Tips for Running in the Rain Safely?
There are numerous challenges with running in heavy rain, particularly if high winds and cold temperatures accompany the rainstorm.
There can be a risk of hypothermia if your feet get wet from deep puddles, and if you aren’t wearing the right kinds of socks and footwear, you can get blisters from sopping wet running shoes.
If temperatures are nearly freezing, there can be a risk of slipping on wet roads, and some puddles can ice over.
Fortunately, several precautions can help prevent injuries when running in the rain or running in bad weather.
These safety measures boil down to choosing the right running gear for rainy runs.
What Should I Wear Running In the Rain?
The most common concern for some beginner runners I train is knowing what to wear when running in the rain.
As mentioned, some of the most likely injuries from rainy day runs include smaller issues such as blisters from wet shoes and chafing from wet clothes, both of which affect the skin, as well as slipping and falling if the roads are slick or if you are trail running on wet trails with loose, slippery leaves and rocks.
If possible, you should wear Gore-Tex trail running shoes for rainy day runs. This will help keep your feet relatively dry.
In fact, I recommend Gore-tex trail running shoes even for road runners because trail running shoes have more aggressive lugs on the bottom, which help aid traction compared to road running shoes.
Gore-Tex is waterproof, so it can help keep your socks dry if you go through puddles, which should help prevent blisters.
Remember that even the best Gore-tex running shoes (also called GTX running shoes) aren’t fully waterproof.
The shoes are usually coated with Gore-tex material or another waterproof material, but the underneath layers and insoles are not waterproof. Therefore, if you go through deep puddles that soak through the ankle portion of the shoes, your feet can still get wet.
Therefore, if you are going to be trail running in a heavy downpour, wearing gators over your running shoes can provide a further layer of protection in case you are running over wet vegetation or have to cross deep, muddy sections of the trail with deep puddles.
It is also important to wear moisture-wicking socks to help pull excess moisture off of the surface of the foot.
To prevent chafing, you can use Vaseline or Body Glide on any of the areas of skin that tend to rub together, such as your inner thighs and groin area, the area under the armpit or the breasts, and even between the toes where you might get blisters.
Vaseline and BodyGlide help reduce friction and rubbing of your skin.
Even if you don’t normally suffer from chafing when running, chafing on rainy day runs is much more common because wet running close can rub against your skin, causing excessive friction and irritation.
I usually recommend wearing form-fitting running clothes, at least as a base layer, when running in the rain.
For example, if you wear running tights or compression shorts instead of loose-fitting running shorts or running pants, the tighter fabric will cling right to your leg rather than absorb a ton of water and then flap around and irritate your opposite inner thigh.
The same holds true for a good moisture-wicking running top—look for something that is relatively form-fitting.
For summer rainy day runs, you might prefer to wear a sports bra or no shirt to help prevent excess chafing and regulate your body temperature.
Wet running clothes get heavy and cold.
For cold weather rainy day runs, you should layer up with running tights and water resistant running pants on the bottom.
I love the Brooks High Point Waterproof Pants.
Again, try to go with a moisture-wicking, form-fitting running top and a waterproof jacket, if possible.
The Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket is my pick for the best lightweight running rain jacket.
It is extremely lightweight and packs into its own pocket, yet it is exceptionally breathable and fully waterproof.
My favorite feature of the Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket is the integrated Flip Mitts, which provide waterproof hand warmth in cold or wet conditions.
You can wear a visor or running cap to improve comfort and keep rain off your face. The visor will protect against raindrops hitting your face and getting in your eyes.
Ensure you get an adjustable running visor or brimmed hat to get a nice snug fit in case it is windy and rainy.
My pick for the best waterproof running gloves for cold winter runs is the Seirus Soundtouch Xtreme Hyperlite All Weather Gloves.
They are warm and waterproof without being bulky, allowing you to have the dexterity to manipulate your running watch or even rip open an energy gel!
Other Tips for Running In the Rain
How do you keep your phone dry while running in the rain?
To keep your phone dry on a rainy run, I recommend using a waterproof phone case like Otterbox or a waterproof running belt for your phone.
I love the Under Armour Unisex UA Flex Run Pack Belt.
This running waist belt protects your phone from getting wet without causing any bouncing or chafing. There’s also room to store some energy gels, your keys, or other little running gear.
One helpful tip for dealing with a race on a rainy day is to bring tons of plastic bags.
I usually do a warm-up in one pair of running shoes and usually warmer outer layers while keeping my racing outfit and running shoes in plastic bags.
Then, I change out of my wet shoes and into my dry running gear for the race.
I will even have a separate dry outfit in another bag for after the race so I can get out of my wet clothes immediately.
I also bring a plastic trash bag to wear over my body, like a poncho on the starting line if it’s a downpour, and sometimes, I use a large plastic bag to cover a section of pavement so I can stretch.
Note that even if you have the best waterproof running gear, you will get wet if you run in a downpour.
However, trying to keep a positive attitude and even laughing at the heavy rain can help build mental toughness and remove some of the “sting“ of the challenges of inclement weather.
I can remember one time when I was running in a true downpour.
What started as a relatively light rain, became one of the heaviest rains I had ever experienced, yeah I was nowhere near home so I had to finish my workout— come hell or high water (literally!).
At first, I was frustrated and uncomfortable because admittedly, I wasn’t prepared for running in such a heavy rain that day since it had been more of a drizzle when I left the house.
However, once I was totally soaked, I realized my wet clothes would not get any wetter, and I might as well laugh at the situation.
It was raining so hard that I couldn’t even hear myself breathing.
So, I just kept pushing through and tried to imagine myself as a kid—my sisters and I always loved running up and down the driveway during heavy summer rains.
My take is that running in any bad weather—as long as it’s not a dangerous thunderstorm or winter storm—builds mental toughness and character.