- Wear a garbage bag. Just cut holes for you head and arms, and then cut it so that it’s short enough so it won’t impede your stride. It will keep your body heat in and the rain out, and when you get tired of it, you can just drop it in a rubbish bin at an aid station.
- Wear a throw-away sweatshirt or long sleeve shirt. If it’s barely raining or dry on race morning, you can wear a (cotton!) throw-away shirt and then discard it at an aid station or even along the road by the starting area. If it’s really pouring, though, the garbage bag is your best bet.
- Know your problem areas when it comes to the cold – you might need gloves or to wear tights instead of shorts. Every body reacts differently to cold (and rain) so just do what’s right for you!
The hardest parts of the race when it’s raining are the first few miles before you get warmed up and the last few miles when you’re tired, and usually soaked through and unable to keep your body heat in.
And the rain … if you’re not prepared at the start of the race for rain, you probably won’t be able to do much to help yourself out if it starts raining at Mile 10. Wind can also be very dangerous; even if you feel warm at the start, as some participants at the 2015 Boston Marathon found out. Here are a few tips that are good to keep in mind on any run where rain is a possibility, and even more so for a half or full marathon:
- Wear a hat. A baseball-style hat, one that will keep the rain off your face (especially if you wear glasses).
- Wear synthetic material socks. Cotton socks are no good for running in the rain.
- Wear tech clothes. Even if you enjoy running in old-school cotton, wearing it to race in the rain will just add weight and chafing opportunities for you.
- Bring a dry bag. I highly recommend a Ziploc bag. Just so long as it’s big enough for your essentials – even your car key won’t appreciate being soaked if it’s got a chip in it; but keeping your phone dry is a must if you bring it along. If you run with your ID and you have one of those new-address stickers, it’s likely to be unreadable after spending a wet run in your pocket. Trust me – don’t wait until airport security gets a look at your ID.
- Bodyglide, Bodyglide, Bodyglide. If there’s one thing you need for a rainy race, it’s one of those mini-Bodyglide sticks. It should fit in your water belt (and if it doesn’t, make sure you have someone to meet you at key points on the course) and will be an absolute life saver for you. Because once you start to feel that burn, it will occupy your mind like nothing else and you won’t be able to ignore it. You’ll start thinking about your post-race shower … and you’ll be afraid.
- Take advantage of the on-course Vaseline station. Even if you have your own. If it’s raining and you’re wearing something fairly new (or at least new to this long of a run) you may find you’re chafing in new areas!
- Keep hydrating! Just because your skin is wet doesn’t mean your muscles are getting enough water.
After your race, depending on how warm it is, you’ll need to do what you can to dry off quickly. Even if you feel great during the race, wet clothes can cause you to chill quickly once you stop moving. Even shedding layers to put on something dry will let your body warm up more quickly; if you have no dry layers, a garbage bag can do the trick. If you’re at a race handing out Mylar blankets, take one – even if you’re warm crossing the finish, you won’t be by the time you are done refueling. Here are some tips to keep your post-run glow nice and warm:
- Keep a bag of dry clothes in your car for emergencies, including undergarments, socks, shoes, pants, and shirts. A blanket’s also a great idea to keep in your car.
- Put on a dry hat. If your hair is wet it will not do much to prevent loss of body heat.
- While a towel might not do much to warm you up, it can provide some privacy while you change clothes.
- Warm from the inside-out – coffee shops are pretty ubiquitous in Oregon, even if you don’t have any money with you, you can ask for a cup of hot water and hold it in your hands. Be sure to keep a lid on it in case you have the shivers; you don’t want to spill on yourself.
- Stay inside and get warm, and wait to drive until you’re no longer shivering. If you’ve ever been THAT cold, you know that it can be hard to focus on driving until your muscles can stop shaking. If you can’t warm up despite these tips, call someone to come get you. It is possible to get hypothermia after a run in the rain, so if you think this might be the case, seek medical help. Read the symptoms of hypothermia here, so you can identify it in yourself and your running buddies.