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  • Writer's pictureBetsy

Embracing Running & Walking in the Rain

“Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won’t feel like watching.” - Fran Lebowitz

Running in the rain is one of my favorite things (unless it is freezing rain, in which case, the following ode to rain running does not apply. On those occasions, simply stay inside with a hot beverage and a book and figure something else out for your workout.) Not only is wet weather usually cooler (at least here in Florida), the earth also smells its loveliest [1], the extra chill raises your metabolism and moisture makes it easier to breathe by washing away the pollen in the air [2], heck, it even makes your hair all shiney! [3] Downside, of course, is the fact it makes your ponytail a huge bird's nest, ladies, am I right?)

Even though I completely agree with the great Emil Zatopek who said, "There is a great advantage in training under unfavorable conditions. It is better to train under bad conditions, for the difference is then a tremendous relief in a race, ” here are a few considerations before heading out into the elements:

1. Wear a hat to keep water out of your face to increase your visibility and something reflective so that you remain visible to cars. A white or neon Headsweats hat solves both of these requirements. Both Georganne and I remarked to ourselves this summer during this 10 mile deluge along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia that hats would have been a smart idea (above photo).

2. Avoid any cotton clothing against your skin. Cotton acts like a sponge when wet. Opt for synthetic materials and avoid over-dressing. You don't want excessive sweating coupled with the rain on your skin - very uncomfortable. Moisture wicking socks are crucial to prevent blistering of skin. My favorites are Smartwool Ph.D. Run Micros. They are also naturally antimicrobial which helps prevents odors. Remember, when it comes to running "cotton is rotten".

3. Keep electronics dry (or just leave them at home). The Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag (yes, I am the type of person who wears a fanny pack. Don't judge - it's so useful!) and the Amphipod ArmPod Smartview Sumo phone holder are my go-tos.

4. Use an anti-chafing cream such as Body Glide (or petroleum jelly, in a pinch) to prevent some major discomfort.

5. Change out of cold, wet clothes as soon as possible after run to prevent hypothermia [4]. Don't try to be a hero.

6. Waterproof shoes are a revelation - not only for running and walking in the rain, but also if you walk a dog on dewy grass, coach/spectate soccer, own a horse farm, or enjoy fishing. On Running makes a two great waterproof styles: Cloud ($149.99) and CloudFlyer ($159.99). Message me if you would like to order a pair.

“The sky darkened suddenly, and from nowhere a chilly wind began whipping through the Spanish moss in the live oaks across Bumby Avenue, raising goose bumps on their forearms… The first fat drops splatted on the roadway, making little hissy puffs of steam, and they began landing on the boys’ skin, a crack of thunder split the sky…This moment seemed magical to them: a bright tropical day loomed in front as a purple monsoon came on from behind. And they were thrilled as only children can be thrilled to exist for a moment on the very edge of thing, at the buzzy existential margin of all possibilities.” From Racing the Rain: A Novel by John L. Parker, Jr., page 1

“I love very few things more than a nice long walk in the drizzle of Seattle. I don’t care for the heaviness of real rain; I like the misting, the feeling of the tiny droplets on my muzzle and eyelashes. The freshness of the air, which has been suddenly infused with ozone and negative ions. While rain is heavy and can suppress the scents, a light shower actually amplifies smells; it releases the molecules, brings odor to life, and then carries it through the air to my nose. Which is why I love Seattle more than any other place, even Thunderhill Raceway Park. Because, while the summers are very dry, once the damp season begins, nary a day goes by without a helping of my much-loved drizzle.”

From The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, page 207

Happy Running and Walking, FitFooters! Stay well!


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