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The Art of Racing in the Rain

…not to be confused with this book, by Garth Stein -

art of racing in the rain cover.jpg

Which, much to my dismay when I picked it up a few years ago, is not actually about running. Though I did learn a lot about driving race cars. And I’m admittedly a sucker for any story that’s about a dog, written from a dog’s point of view, or just has a lot of dogs in it.

Anyway, I digress…

Today I want to talk about running in the rain. Or, more specifically, racing in it. Signing up for races means making a commitment to run in any type of weather – cold, heat, snow, sunshine, and rain. In my running-paradise, every race would be 50 degrees and sunny. But this is real life, and sometimes that means you have to run in pretty inclement weather.

Like Sunday’s Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon, where it didn’t just rain…it poured. Was I excited about running in these conditions? Heck no. Running through pouring rain and driving headwinds just adds to the misery of racing for an hour and a half. But it doesn’t have to be the worst experience in the world. With just a little bit of planning, it might not be quite as miserable as you expect.

Racing in the Rain

Signs of a runner who has been slogging racing for over an hour through torrential downpour…

Prov RnR.jpg


While I can’t promise you’ll have tons of fun the next time you have to race through a downpour, I do have a few tips to hopefully make it a little more bearable.

1.) Stay as dry as you can for as long as you can.

You have no choice but to get wet once the gun goes off, but why make yourself even more miserable by standing around and getting soaked before the race begins? Especially if it’s cold. Seek shelter before the start and try to go into the corral at the last minute. If you have to stand outside, get yourself a trash bag and make yourself a fancy schmancy trash bag rain coat. They’re all the rage these days.

Prov RnR_FL & LB.JPGPhoto from Frayed Laces

2.) Wear a hat.

This might be obvious, but having a brimmed hat is the best way to keep the water out of your face as you’re running. Because let’s be honest – do you really want rain in your eyes when you’re trying to figure out where to turn on the course or avoid those ankle-deep puddles?

DSCF5129.JPGI got this hat from Road Runner Sports a year ago – and love it!

3.) Less is more!

There’s no avoiding it – your clothes are going to get soaked. So don’t weigh yourself down even more by wearing big shirts or bulky bottoms. Since most races (that I know of) won’t allow you to run naked, choose light, formfitting clothes. As evidenced by the above photo, loose shorts start sticking and riding up when they’re wet. Not only is this incredibly unattractive, but it also can lead to more chafing. Which brings me to…

4.) Body Glide everywhere…and then do it again.

It quickly became clear after finishing Sunday’s race that I didn’t do as great a job with the Body Glide as I had thought. When running in the rain, you will probably experience chafing in areas you’ve never had to worry about before – avoid that by being as liberal with Body Glide as you can.



5.) Leave the iPod at home

Unless you can wrap it in a plastic bag and stow it somehow, rain + iPods do not mix. Fortunately, mine seems to be okay now (maybe it just needed to dry out), but I shouldn’t have even brought it to the race to begin with.



6.) Trade trainers for racing flats.

Within a mile of Sunday’s half marathon, my feet were so weighed down with water that my racing flats weighed about as much as my normal trainers. Even though this was the longest I had raced in them to date, I was so glad not to have even more weight on my feet.

7.) {try to} Have fun with it!

Stomp in puddles. Try to throw your competition off by splashing water at them. See if you can catch rain drops in your mouth. Or make a game out of out-running the rain drops. Yes, I know….after an hour running up hills and slogging through puddles, the fun starts to wear off a little bit. But doing whatever you can to change your attitude from “This sucks. I’m miserable. Get me out of here!” to one that sees the rain as part of the fun can make the race just a little less crappy.

8.) Bring a change of clothes for after the race.

You’ve already spent a long time running in your gross, wet clothes. Do you want to stand around in them too? Being able to towel off and change into dry clothes after you’ve crossed the finish line can make you feel as good as new.

Girls_RnRSorry Lizzy – this was too good not to share!

9.) Just make sure those clothes are stored in a dry place.

Whoever was in charge of the RnR bag check process didn’t really plan for the weather. Bags were just thrown in a pile on the ground without any sort of covering to keep them dry. Because canvas bags are waterproof, right??

I felt bad for all the participants who had checked their bags at the start only to finish and find sopping wet clothes waiting for them. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to avoid this, but if you can stash the bag somewhere dry yourself – do it!

10.) Celebrate! …by going somewhere warm and dry.

Even though the amazing Sugar Ray was performing after the race (did he ever have more than just 2 songs??), we didn’t stick around for too long afterward. Because listening to a concert in the rain after running through the rain isn’t as much fun as one might think.

So the next day we celebrated surviving the race (me as a runner and EC as a world-class spectator) by going somewhere warm and sunny.

Okay…I’ll admit that this doesn’t really have a ton to do with the post. But I needed a #10…and you asked for pictures of my hair cut, so here you go.




Any other tips to share for surviving a race in the rain? 



19 Responses to The Art of Racing in the Rain

  1. Ahh, your hair is SO cute! I LOVE it :)

    And I love these tips. Unfortunately, most runners will eventually have to race in the rain and it is not fun! Wearing a hat is a must. I don’t know how some people go without it. I also think doing training runs in the rain- and any other weather condition- is key because you never know what Mother Nature is going to do come race day.

  2. Your hair looks so pretty! I have never done a race in the rain but it sure sounds pretty awful

  3. i love your hair!! i am so thankful for this post and for the tweats i got responding to running in the rain. i was actually going to write something similiar based on all your tweets lol. i think you covered it!! thanks

  4. Long comment coming right up!!!!
    1) I didn’t try to stay dry. OOPS. But you look super cute in your plastic gear!
    2) I wore a hat!!! I almost never do, but that is smart advice when its raining!
    3) I didn’t chafe one bit. Make fun of me if you want for wearing 3/4 length spandex… but I didn’t chafe!
    4) I recently bought body glide- it is pretty awesome : ) But so are spandex, my personal fav.
    5) I had my ipod in my pocket but I never used it. I’m lucky it still works with all that rain!
    6) Racing flats to me are for the 800 meters. I need my Ascics!
    7) Truth, I had a blast on Sunday. I think I could run better in weather like that over heat and humidity any day. So far this year, we’ve run in snow during a race, extreme heat, and now pouring rain. What’s next for us??
    8) Speaking of your change of clothes- are those the same shorts you wore again on Monday? I notice these things…
    9) My clothes were in my car. Now changing completely out of my wet gear while Becky and Sean waited for me… that was an adventure…
    10) Celebrate with pizza! and the beach!

    Other tips- just have fun with it! And once you’re wet, you’re wet so no need to shower : )

    Cute post and I love your hair- I’m in utter shock that you did it so impulsively but it looks suuuuuuppper cute!

    • ughh apparently 8 ) is a smiley face with shades.

    • haha, yes…those ARE the same shorts. You caught me (dang it)!

      And you should try out a pair of flats that are made for road racing/distance. I think you might actually like them. There’s just something about putting them on that puts me in race mode (and makes me feel fast).

  5. I love that book. I sobbed at the end and then my husband read it and he sobbed at the end.

    Your hair looks like mine! What kind of products do you put in it?

  6. I loved that book – totally made me cry.

    those are excellent tips. i’ve even put trash bags over my shoes before a race started. wet soggy shoes are the worst! I would also add: put hair in a braid if you don’t have a hat to avoid giant rat’s nest. And, avoid jumping over puddles if you can (because I’ve almost rolled an ankle doing that)!

    Your hair is adorable!! I wish mine would look like that if I cut it short instead of a giant poufball.

    • I love the trash bags over your shoes suggestion! I’d never thought of that, but will definitely be trying it next time!

      And I agree – no point trying to avoid the inevitable by jumping over puddles. You’re going to end up soaked anyway, and it’s better not to risk hurting yourself.

  7. Great tips! Especially the part about body glide…Just sweating doesn’t usually cause too much chafing for me, but when I add water to the mix (whether it be from dumping it over my head to stay cool or from a rain cloud), some serious uncomfortable starts to happen…

    I think it’s easy to get psyched out when the weather isn’t what we want it to be, but as you said – signing up for a race is a commitment and even if the weather isn’t ideal, you can still have a good performance!

  8. I love Body Glide. Never leave home without it!

    I LOVE your hair! It looks adorable. I’m a curly girl too and your short ‘do is so tempting!!!!

  9. Hmm whenever I run in a downpour, I always think “wow – this is so like primal or something.” haha But, I just tell myself, you can always take a shower and be dry again.

    Although I do hate the squishy shoes, the water in my eyes (therefore, a hat is a fab idea), and the clothes sticking to me!

    Thanks for the tips!

  10. 1000% agree with you on the body glide! Rain = chaffing and it is the most painful shower you will ever take afterwards!! Thanks for the tips!

  11. I kind of enjoy running in the rain! But, for a race, it’s definitely less than ideal..I think you give some great tips for toughing it out. I second a hat, and definitely would braid my hair (since it’s longer) to avoid getting tangled in a rat’s nest. Great job toughing it out. I’ve never tried Body Glide, but don’t usually experience much chafing. I’m sure a half in a torrential downpour could change that, though…

  12. Hehe, so true! Congrats on a great run anyway though!

    PS – cute haircut!

  13. I get the WORST blisters on my toes just from dumping water on myself during races, I can’t imagine what it would be like if it was in the pouring rain. Hopefully I won’t have to find out, but it would make for an awesome race report. :)

    I love the short hair!!

  14. AHHH!!!! those long races in the rain are so grueling! My second marathon was a rainy one… Hefty bags are definitely the way to go!

    You look pretty darn cute even when wet through and through :)

  15. Ah, I loved that book – I thought the ending was so precious.
    I still am in love with your hair cut! So cute! I really enjoying running in the rain when I allow myself too (i.e. when I’m not being a major baby and whining about it). All of these tips are helpful – the hat make its much more bearable, and light clothing is definitely the way to go.

  16. I hate running in the rain. Like, HATE. But I love your idea of making it as fun as possible. And I absolutely agree that running clothes that fit, and a good hat, make all the difference. Congrats on your race – and your awesome holiday!

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