Rainy Runs Survival Guide: 5 {More} Tips from a Seattle Runner

5 Tips for Surviving and Enjoying Rainy Runs

Last May I wrote a post about how to stay warm, (relatively) dry, and blister-free/chafe-free on rainy runs. That post, however, was published before Ryan and I moved to Seattle, if even just by a few days.

Even though we don’t experience the same torrential downpours in Seattle as we did in the city we fondly called Val-pour-rain-and-snow (Valparaiso in Northwest Indiana), most days there’s a light but steady drizzle of rain.

Of course, while I do retreat to the treadmill on very rainy days, most days I prefer to run in the rain rather than the treadmill. Running in the rain builds mental strength, prepares you for the worst on race day, and, most of all, can actually be fun.

Now that I have lived and trained in the notoriously rainy Seattle area for almost 9 months, I’ve learned a bit more about running in the rain. It’s still a process of trial and error, and I’m sure in a few months I’ll still be learning about how to run in the rain.  In addition to the 7 tips for running in the rain I shared previously, today I want to share 5 more tips for running in the rain. Don’t stay inside—embrace the rain!

5 Tips for Surviving and Enjoying Rainy Runs

5 {More} Tips for Surviving and Enjoying Rainy Runs

1. Rub Some Coconut Oil (or Leave-In Conditioner) In Your Hair

No one wants to untangle a rat’s nest from their hair after a run. Those disastrous rain-induced tangles hurt, waste time better spent running or eating, and every once and a while leave you contemplating chopping off all of your hair.

I always braid my hair and tie several hair bands along the braid to prevent tangles, but even braids can turn into knots after a long time in the rain, especially if you have layers.

The solution? A tiny bit of coconut oil or leave-in conditioner keeps hair smooth and less likely to tangle. I just comb in a dime-sized or smaller dollop of coconut oil or conditioning oil before a run and my tangle-prone hair remains tangle-free, even on the wettest of rainy long runs.

2. Stash a Sweatshirt in Your Car

Running in the rain actually isn’t that bad, as long as you’re dress appropriately for the temperature. The unbearably uncomfortable part occurs when your body temperature lowers after you stop running. The wet fabric of your running clothes will feel downright chilly and you’ll begin to shiver in the minutes after your run.

I usually drive 10-20 minutes to run, so I always stash my favorite cozy University of Dayton sweatshirt in my car for after cold or rainy runs. As soon as I complete my run, I switch my running shirt or singlet for my warm and dry hoodie. No more shivers! 

Even if your sports bra is wet, not having cold and wet fabric against your torso will make all the difference between feeling miserable after a rainy run (which then associates the run with a negative experience) to feeling comfortable and happy (and thus helping you enjoy rainy runs more).

3. Don’t Just Wear Your Normal Raincoat

Here’s a quick way to ruin your $100+ everyday raincoat or your even more expensive hiking rain jacket: run in it.

If you’re running, chances are you’ll sweat, especially since most raincoats don’t breathe well (that’s how in part they keep the moisture out). Sweat will corrode some of the inner lining of the rain jacket, making it overall less effective for any type activity in the rain.

However, regular running clothes won’t do much for keeping you dry from rain (even if they’re great at wicking away sweat), nor will they protect you from the chilling winds that usually accompany rain. Especially if you’re running for over an hour, you want a little extra protection from the rain.

The best option? The Patagonia Houdini, which is a raincoat made specifically for endurance athletes. (Not an affiliate link, just a really awesome product that should be in your running wardrobe if you ever run in the rain.)

It’s lightweight, non-waxy (i.e. doesn’t feel gross and sticky when you sweat), breathable, and weather-resistant. Some water may sneak through on very long marathon training runs, but overall it’s the best in the market for rainy runs. The hood is even easily adjustable to keep it on your head despite any wind.

The best part of the Houdini? In addition to being produced by an ethical brand and coming in several beautiful bright colors (which mean better visibility), this paper-thin jacket easily packs into itself. So if you’re not sure whether you’ll encounter rain on a long run, you can easily carry it until you need it.

5 Tips for Surviving and Enjoying Rainy Runs


4. Rotate Your Running Shoes

Alternating between two or more pairs of running shoes offers numerous benefits, including a lower risk of injury, more wear out of your shoes, and stronger feet. If you live in a rainy climate (like the Pacific Northwest), alternating between a couple pairs of running shoes will give your other pair of shoes time to dry naturally after your run.

The same tip applies for snowy runs! Whatever you do, just don’t toss a pair of running shoes in the dryer. The heat will ruin the rubber, foam, and other materials on your shoe, and shoes banging around will likely damage your dryer as well.  

5. Shorten Your Stride

The shorter and quicker your running stride is, the less time your feet are in contact with the ground. Certain surfaces, especially asphalt, become slippery in the rain. By reducing the time your feet are in contact with the wet ground, you reduce your chances of slipping in a puddle and face-planting.

A short and quick stride will also keep your from completely submerging your feet in puddles, for the same reason of less contact time with the ground. Plus, most coaches and running experts recommend a shorter and quicker stride (faster cadence) for reducing the overall risk of running-related injury and increasing your efficiency.

Most importantly, always exercise caution. If there’s thunder or high winds over 30 mph along with that rain, you should opt for the treadmill or other indoor workout for the sake of your own safety.

Of course, different tips apply to racing in the rain; be sure to check out this article on racing in the rain from Women’s Running!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:
4 Tips to Stay Motivated in Your Running This Winter
5 Quick and Effective Running Workouts
What to Wear for Hiking in Cold Weather

Where did you go to college? Do you still wear your old college sweatshirts?
What are your tips for running in the rain?


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30 Responses

  1. I definitely need to try the coconut oil in the hair thing! My hair gets SO tangled when I run in the rain, no matter how I wear it!
    I went to Loyola College and definitely still wear sweatshirts from there. However, after I graduated they changed it to University so I guess Im a little outdated now:)

    1. I actually tried the coconut oil in hair on a hike, and my hair stayed put and tangle free despite rain and lots of layers (hat, hood, etc). I hope it works for you!
      I almost went to Loyola Chicago for grad school! The Loyolas are good schools.

  2. When most people say they love running in the rain they usually are envisioning a light warm rain. I don’t mind those at all. Cold, downpours with sideways wind are the absolute worse. As fate has it, every single marathon I’ve run has involved absolute downpours and heavy winds. I can attest that all your tips are helpful! Especially the change in clothes after your run. Staying in soaked clothes for even 10 minutes sucks!

    1. Thank you! Cold sideways downpours are the worst! That was about the only rain we got in Indiana and running in that was…character-building. I think the fact that you’ve run marathons in cold rain just shows how mentally and physically strong you are! I’m anxious just thinking about a race in light Seattle rain ha.

  3. I went to college at Francis Marion University in SC. I don’t wear my college sweatshirts because I don’t have one anymore… but yeah, I recommend a hoodie or sweatshirt after EVERY run not just rainy ones! If it’s raining I just pack a complete change of clothes. Honestly once you get out in it and get wet it’s not so bad, but I think it’s OK to go inside and treadmill too, if that makes one feel safer or more comfortable.

  4. Great tips! We definitely did our fair share of rainy running last summer! I also say braid your hair, if you can, and clean and dry EVERYTHING to change into immediately following!

  5. My half marathon last March was rainy–like straight up downpour. I don’t mind running in light rain but heavy rain is just awful (for me). I have a Brooks lightweight running jacket I like, but I prefer running in a tank top or short sleeves with a visor to keep the rain off my face. And yes to keeping a hoodie in your car to change into–I wear my husbands college hoodie all the time!

    1. Downpours are rough – they make clothes and shoes feel about ten times heavier, which is not what you want during a race! Visors are a good choice also – I run in a hat most days here just in case of rain.

  6. I remember at Grandma’s Marathon, when it POURED on us at the start. By the time I crossed the starting line, it had been reduced to just a drizzle and I was able to ditch my trash bag! I think that’s when I knew I was destined to have a good race 🙂

    It doesn’t rain as much here, but I really don’t mind running in the rain except having to deal with wet clothes and shoes post-run. Granted, I’ve never run anything longer than 10 miles in the rain. But I just sort of get in the zone and don’t really notice it that much. That said, I really need to invest in some rain gear so thank you so much for the jacket recommendation! A little pricey but might be worth it!

    1. Trash bag is such a smart idea before a rainy race! That must keep you nice and dry before the start. The jacket is a bit pricy but it’s totally worth it – it also blocks wind a bit so you can use it for non-rainy runs as well! Plus Patagonia gear is so durable, well-made, and a really great sustainable and ethical brand.

  7. Hey, really great tips! My hair doesn’t get tangled when it gets wet. Isn’t that weird?! As much hair as I have?! But my friend Lora who has shorter thin blonde hair struggles with the tangled running hair. I will tell her about the conditioner/coconut oil tip!

    1. Thank you! That’s not weird at all – I also find that the longer my hair is, the less it tangles! Like the weight of the hair holds itself down and keeps it from springing up and tangling. Back when my hair was shoulder length it would get so badly tangled. I hope the conditioner/coconut oil works for your friend!

    1. Thank you! I tried it on a hike because my hat/hood can tangle my hair, and it works so well! Plus like you’ve said it’s such a great conditioner for hair that it’s multitasking at its best!

  8. Love your tips! I love running in the rain but never thought about putting leave-in conditioner in my hair. That will be a game changer! The thing that gets me to run in the rain is my running-specific rain jacket which always keeps me dry (and warm in the snow!). That running jacket is key to getting out the door!

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