When it comes to the month of November in England, there can be some uncertainty about December and what the rest of the year may hold in store, but you can be certain of one thing: You’ll be running in the rain, and doing so for the majority of the year, since England hasn’t got very diverse weather. Of course, England isn’t the only place where you can be running in the rain – I’ve had to run in the rain in Denmark, a pretty dampening experience – but many of the same rules apply.
When I first started my running journey, I didn’t know anything about running in the rain, neither in terms of health nor making sure I don’t get too wet. It took a lot of trial and error – mostly error, if I’m being honest – but experience has given me a list of simple things you can do to make sure you stay safe and relatively dry when running in the rain. This should be helpful for people just starting out, or those who have been struggling when it comes to running in the rain – believe me, running in the rain is possible, and I’ll show you how here.
1. Raincoats are your friends.
Despite being a relatively obvious tip, I’ve made the mistake of running in the rain without a raincoat several times – in my defence, it rained after I’d started my route, sometimes… not all the time. Although you can’t catch a cold (it’s a virus) from the rain, some cold viruses spread easier in cold temperatures, and this is where running in the rain can cause a problem: your temperature can be lowered and leave your body vulnerable to these viruses. And again, while you can’t catch pneumonia from running in the rain and getting wet, you can become ill, and it’s still pretty unpleasant.
This is where raincoats come in. I recommend trying to find a good-quality raincoat that isn’t too heavy when running in the rain, and one with a hood that covers your face. Though they aren’t necessarily a bad choice, I just prefer the lighter material because I sweat less that way. There are a lot of different raincoats, some of which are designed for runners, but at the end of the day, as long as it keeps your body from being drenched, it’ll do. Just a heads-up: if you’re running in the rain with a raincoat, you may find yourself sweating a lot more, but it’s preferable to being drenched by the rain. There are literally hundreds of raincoats with a quick search here.
2. Watch your step
Again, this may sound obvious, but I’ve made these mistakes, and when an idiot like me does this running in the rain, I think it’s obligatory for everybody to be given the same advice. Pavements and roads can be more slippery when it’s raining, and if you’re running on these surfaces, it can become a hazard – I’ve fallen whilst running in the rain several times, so again, this is from experience. One thing you can do is shorten your stride when running in the rain: this can help keep balance and reduce the risk of falling. This especially applies to sets of steps, which aren’t just painful, but they can also break bones, and worse. Around 12,000 people die from falling down stairs a year, and I don’t think I need to tell you that stone steps can increase these odds. A couple of years ago I slipped down a stone set of steps, and believe me, it wasn’t pleasant: I managed to throw my back out.
3. Avoid grass and muddy trails.
Similar to running on roads and pavements, running on grass and earth can be pretty hazardous in the rain. Not only is the terrain more slippery, but grassy surfaces can often be uneven and result in twisted ankles, bruises, and cuts. They can also make you a lot dirtier and wetter, and aside from the risks of being ill, getting clean afterwards can be a real chore – yes, I’m lazy enough that I don’t want to get muddy because it’s harder to get clean.
4. Consider a shorter route
This one is especially key for people who are beginners or new to running in the rain. Running in the rain can be more difficult than in dry weather, and you may find yourself becoming more fatigued. Because of this, you may want to consider a shorter running route, closer to 5k, or if you prefer the distance, maybe reduce your planned run by a couple of miles. This will provide you with some good experience for running in the rain, but will make sure you aren’t overwhelmed by the conditions at all.
5. Check the weather
This is a short but essential tip for running in the rain. If your local area or the place you’re visiting has had a couple of days of rain, check for weather alerts/storm warnings. While running in the rain isn’t necessarily a bad thing, extremely low temperatures and lightning can be very dangerous. It may also be worth letting someone know you’re going running in the rain with grave weather predictions, especially if you’re in an isolated or sparsely-populated area. This may sound neurotic, but I’ve run in areas with nobody around, where if there were a storm, I’d imagine that nobody would find me.
6. Know that it can be good for you
Despite the risks I’ve listed above, running in the rain can be good for you. Apart from the usual benefits, running in the rain can burn more calories, since your body is working harder and overheating less. It can also be therapeutic being in the rain – if it’s lighter – and you’ll probably feel all the better having gone out at all. So yes, even running in the rain can have its benefits.
These are just a few tips for running in the rain. There are some more I can give you, but these are the key ones, and I may give you some more in the future. What do you do if/when you go running in the rain? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,
P.s. if you’re looking for more running tips, you might find my guide to running while travelling useful.