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Tips for Running in the Rain

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumRegardless of your source, it is fair to say that this summer has been one of the wettest in recent memory. According to The Weather Channel, NEPA has received 36.85 inches of rain as of August 15th exceeding the previous record set in 1945. Runners, walkers, cyclists, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts have learned to adapt to a changing environment or bust! While there are other options such as exercising indoors, (not exercising is not an option) and while this may suffice on occasion, nothing compares to being outdoors…even in the RAIN! The purpose of this column is to provide some tips for running in the rain with the hope of making it slightly less awful.

For many, running is a not fun. For others, running in the rain is even less fun, unless you enjoy heavy, wet, clingy clothes and spongy, smelly shoes, blisters on your feet and skin rashes on your armpits, thighs and breasts. However, living in regions of the world where the sun shines less than 50% of the time and rain moistens the earth like a rainforest (especially NEPA this summer), one must reach deep to “embrace the experience” and “find joy in the moment” of running in the rain. Moreover, with a little preparedness and investment in proper clothing and equipment, running in the rain can prove to be less like form of self-inflicted torcher and more like a “rite of passage.”

Some elite runners feel running in the rain is an opportunity to “mix it up” and have a new experience. Others feel it cools you off and lowers your heart rate in the summer heat. Also, there is a “badge of honor” associated with running in the rain as it gives you a little toughness and preparedness because it feels hardcore.

TIPS FOR RUNNING IN THE RAIN

1. BEGIN WITH A POSITIVE ATTITUDE ABOUT THE RAIN …ENJOY THE SENSATION OF GETTING WET!
The sound of the rain taping off your head can be viewed as a waterfall massage to your scalp. The smell of a fresh rain on a hot humid day or crisp autumn afternoon can open up your nasal passages and “clear your head” if you think about it the right way. Run in a long-sleeve, lightweight shirt, shorts, and shoes that drain well.” Sometimes you need to skip the rain jacket on your run. While a rain jacket will keep you dry, you might overheat, so, layer correctly to ensure you are warm enough but not trapping in heat.

2. CLOTHING MATERIAL MATTERS!
Avoid cotton in the rain because it absorbs water and gets soggy and heavy which will lead to skin irritation. Instead, wear “drytech” materials that wick away water and moister. In cooler temperatures, look for “Smartwool” which keeps you warm but does not hold water.

3. WEAR A HAT WITH A BRIM!
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, a brim keeps the rain off your glasses and out of your eyes to improve your visibility.

4. WATER RESISTANT SOCKS – A MUST!
Again, avoid cotton. Waterproof or water resistant socks are highly recommended for running in the rain. Dexshell Ultralite Bamboo, Randy Sun and Rocky Gore-Tex are a few highly rated products.

5. CONSIDER WATERPROOF/RESISTANT SHOES
While a completely waterproof shoe may not be necessary, some runners find that tighter mesh products handles mud and water really well. For a more waterproof/resistant shoe consider; Under Armour Fat Tire GTX; Altra Lone Peak NeoShell; The North Face Ultra MT GTX or Brooks Adrenaline ASR 12 GTX.

6. USE THE LUBE!
Skin irritation and chafing is awful! Think of burning flesh! It is very common when running in the rain and the best treatment is prevention. While many “skin lube” or “bodyglide” products are available, good old Vaseline works like a charm on your armpits, groin, breasts, and especially your feet.
7. PLAN TO FINISH AT A WARM SHELTER WITH A HOT SHOWER!
Plan your run so you can access a shelter with a warm drink and hot shower and change your wet clothes ASAP!

8. USE REFLECTORS AND HEAD LIGHTS
If it is a dark cloudy day, be sure to wear reflective material and use flashers and headlights.
Sources: Greatist.com ; Allie Flinn, beauty, fitness, and wellness writer.

Read Dr. Mackarey’s Health & Exercise Forum – every Monday. This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.