Can you run in the rain? If so, what precautions do you need to take? If you wear the right gear and pay attention to the track or road’s condition, you definitely can run in the rain.
Bad weather doesn’t mean you must give up on your favorite cardio routine! With some U.S. cities getting over 100 days of precipitation each year, many runners in the U.S. have no choice but to deal with the inclement weather.
Even if you aren’t a fitness fanatic like me, there are a few precautions you can take while running in the rain to prevent slip and fall injuries and insulate yourself from humidity and cold temperatures.
The Biggest Risk When Running in the Rain: Slip and Fall Injuries
The asphalt we use on roads and sidewalks is impermeable, which means it doesn’t let water through. This creates issues with drainage and also results in a phenomenon known as hydroplaning. When it rains, the raindrops form a thin layer of water on the asphalt surface and can cause car tires to lose contact with the road.
The same thing can happen with your running shoes. You’re at risk of slipping and falling without proper contact with the ground. It’s a factor that contributes to the 50% of runners who get hurt each year.
There are a few things you can do to reduce your risks:
- Wait half an hour after it starts raining to go for a jog. It should give the asphalt enough time to absorb some rainwater and reduce hydroplaning risks.
- Wear running shoes with good traction to maximize contact with the ground. Look for shoes with deep lugs or sticky sole compounds.
- If possible, run on a dirt track instead of an asphalt surface. Running on dirt during the rain can get messy, but it’s safer than asphalt.
Check out our beginners guide to trail running if you want to avoid the asphalt.
Temperature and Humidity Considerations
Can you run in the rain when it’s cold? Rain typically causes temperatures to drop. The ambient humidity can also absorb more heat from your body.
This environment isn’t ideal for helping sweat evaporate from your body. So, you need to bundle up to isolate yourself from the cold and humid weather, making it harder to regulate your body temperature.
The good news is that you won’t catch a cold from running in the rain since colds result from virus infection. However, research suggests a link between cold and damp weather and getting sick, likely because chilly weather weakens your immune system.
Before you step out for a jog in the rain, make sure you have the right gear to stay warm:
- Waterproof running shoes are essential. A simple waterproof membrane won’t be enough. Look for reliable trail shoes with several layers of waterproof materials.
- You’ll also need a pair of warm wool socks. Another moisture-wicking material will work but might not insulate you from cold temperatures as well.
- You should wear an insulated jacket and thermal clothes to stay warm. Thermal clothes are moisture-wicking and can help absorb sweat since the damp weather will not allow it to evaporate.
- Don’t forget to protect your extremities with gloves and a hat. You should also wear a face mask if temperatures drop below 25°F. Check out our guide if you are looking for a face mask for running in cold weather.
- Dressing in layers is the best way to regulate your body temperature. Remove a layer and tie it around your waist if you're getting too warm.
- Adjust your pace. Running with additional layers can slow you down. It’s best to adopt a slow and steady pace, especially if you’re running on terrain you’re not familiar with.
- If you feel overheated, it’s best to take a break from running and walk the rest of the way home. Watch out for common signs of exertion like nausea or lightheadedness.
When To Avoid Running in the Rain
With the right gear, running in the rain is safe and can be a welcome change from your usual exercise routine. However, there are situations where running in the rain is unsafe.
Running during a thunderstorm is not a good idea. Among sports-related lightning incidents, running represents 17%. Being outside during a thunderstorm isn’t safe. Your best option is to seek shelter inside a building if a thunderstorm starts. Don’t stand under a tree; you are no safer than out in the open.
You should also avoid running in extreme weather conditions. Feeling chilled to the bone isn’t a pleasant experience and can weaken your immune system. Plus, rain can start freezing at 32°F and create slippery and unsafe conditions. High winds can also make running challenging and contribute to the chill factor.
Reduced visibility is another reason to avoid running in the rain. It can be difficult for drivers to see you in a downpour. You should wear reflective clothing to improve visibility, but it’s safer to head to the gym and run on a treadmill if the current weather reduces visibility.