woman running in the rain

How to enjoy running in the rain this autumn and winter

Posted by for Workouts

Finding it difficult to stick with your running routine now that we’re heading ever closer to winter? Here are 7 tips that will help you learn to love running in the rain.

Exercising in the winter can be tough. With dark mornings, seasonal illnesses and cold weather, an extra hour in bed or an evening spent in front of the TV can feel more tempting than ever. Many of us will be looking for excuses to skip workouts and, if you’re a runner, rain is often the perfect reason to stay home.

But rain doesn’t have to stop you from getting your workout in. In fact, it might even improve your performance. A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that people exert more energy when running in rainy conditions.

Health benefits aside, running in the rain can actually be an enjoyable experience if you’re willing to change your mindset (and your running routine) to make it so. I’m someone who used to flake on a run at the first sight of a raindrop; it was only when I found myself totally bored with home workouts a few months ago that I decided to give running in the rain a go.

Now, I favour a run in the rain over exercising in sunny weather. Once I realised that the rain, as my dad has always said, is in fact ‘just a bit of water’, I began to find running in it a very freeing experience.

With slippery surfaces and reduced visibility, it’s important to make sure you stay safe while running in rainy weather. “Wear something reflective and stick to a route you know, ideally somewhere with a footpath or with a clear distance away from traffic,” advises Imo Boddy, a personal trainer and running coach. “Wear trainers with a good grip or a trail shoe to avoid any slipping and once running, trying to stick to a path or a park without too many pot holes, puddles, curbs and uneven ground.”

Once you know you’re safe to run in the rain, it’s time to learn how to enjoy doing so. Here are my tips for preparing for rainy runs and changing your mindset towards them.

Wear the right clothes

Of course, it’s important that your clothes are suitable whatever conditions you’re running in. But this is particularly crucial when running in the rain.

The most important thing I’ve learnt when it comes to getting dressed for a rainy run is to keep it minimal. I used to layer up with waterproof jackets but I came to realise that the less wet clothes you’re wearing, the better. Plus, even though it’s raining, you’re still going to sweat, so you’ll probably only end up with layers tied around your waist anyway.

Opt for fabrics that will dry quickly - many brands have lines created for this purpose - and avoid cotton, which will trap moisture and make you sweat more. Waterproof shoes are ideal but it’s more important that your shoes are properly suited to your feet and running style.

Rain often means lower visibility so it’s also key to wear high-visibility clothing, like a neon jacket or top.

Accept that you’re going to get wet

If you spend your entire run trying to find shelter or avoiding puddles, it’s probably going to be fairly stressful. Instead, accept that you’re going to get rained on and embrace it.

When running in the rain, I try to adopt a childlike state of mind by thinking about how much fun being outside when it’s raining can be. I also romanticize my rainy runs, as finding your way through rainy streets can often feel quite cinematic and provide you with some serious main character energy.

Think of it as a mental workout

Along with changing my mindset to try and find the positives of running in the rain, I also accept that I’ll have to push myself mentally in order to get through it. The phrase ‘mind over matter’ is one we hear often when it comes to fitness, specifically with long races like marathons and strength training. Running in difficult weather conditions can help you boost your mental resilience too, making you a more positive person and a better runner.

By treating running in the rain as a mental workout, you’ll train your mind as much as your body, which might help you to run further and faster in the future and feel more optimistic about doing so. If you take part in races, running in the rain will also help you prepare for the possibility of it raining on a race day.

Go easy on yourself and take breaks

Being outside in the rain can be a challenge in itself so avoid putting too much pressure on yourself to hit a new personal best or run a very long distance if you’re not used to running in these conditions. Running in the rain can also increase your chance of injury due to slippery surfaces, so listen to your body and take breaks if you need to.

Stick to road running

On a practical level, I try to avoid running in parks or any other potentially muddy areas when it’s raining. There’s an inevitable level of mess that comes with running in the rain, but you can minimise it by sticking to running on the pavement. It’s also best to run in well-lit areas in order to stay safe, as well as avoiding any potentially slippery surfaces.

Make a post-workout plan to get warm and dry

One of the great things about running in the rain is how good you feel about yourself when it’s over and it makes a cozy night afterwards seem all the more appealing. Make a plan for what you’re going to do to after your run, maybe running a hot bath and having a warm blanket ready for you when you get home.

It’s also important that you remove your wet clothes as soon as possible when you arrive home in order to avoid yeast infections, which can become a problem if you keep your damp clothes on for too long after a workout.

Remember that the rain can support your workout

Exercise generates heat, increasing our core body temperature and causing us to sweat. This is an inevitable part of running but it often feels uncomfortable. Think of the rain as a natural way to cool down.

One of my favourite things about running in the rain is that getting wet and the rain itself distracts me from any struggle I might be experiencing as a result of the run. Motivating myself to keep going while running is something I find very difficult, but when it’s raining, there is less space and time for me to think about any running-related difficulties I might be experiencing, so I’m more likely to keep running. Plus, I’m usually keen to get home quicker than normal, so some of my speediest runs have taken place while it’s been raining.

Find more workout tips and advice over on the Strong Women Instagram page.

Images: Getty

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