“A guy who has run twenty Boston Marathons was once asked, ‘Don’t you feel like skipping a day when it’s raining?’ The old road warrior replied, ‘If you start skipping runs because the weather’s too lousy, pretty soon you start missing runs because the weather’s too nice!'”
— John Hanc, excerpt from 1,001 Pearls of Runners’ Wisdom
As long as you take the necessary precautions and are careful, running in the monsoons can be quite an experience, and become the long-term training you need to compete under all natural conditions. But you do need to be extra careful about what you wear and how you gear-up for a rain run. Here are a few tips before you lace up for the rains.
1. Neon up
This will be one of those few opportunities in the year when you can flaunt your fluorescent shorts or neon-piped tracks, so don’t hesitate. It’s important that you maintain visibility while running; dawn and dusk hours are very overcast during the rains, especially for passing motorists. Couple up your gear with battery-powered, portable strobe lights particularly if you’re navigating through trails or poorly-lit roads.
2. Warm-up inside
While you must accept that you will get wet during your run, you can nevertheless shift your pre- and post-run workout indoors, whether it involves stretches, yoga or jogging. This ensures that you’re ready and raring to go the moment you step outside, preventing any second thoughts or cold shocks once you’re out in the rain. It also helps your body retain warmth for that much longer as opposed to doing the warm-ups outside.
3. Stay snug
There may not be much you can do about staying dry, but you can ensure that you stay more-or-less warm. Go for tights or tracks instead of shorts, and steer clear of cotton tees as they become very heavy when soaked. Seek out technical running tops instead, as they don’t hoard the raindrops and carry a rain-proof light jacket, preferably one that rolls into itself during the dry spells. A cap with a visor or wide brim can also help steer stray raindrops away from your face.
Even if you don’t feel as thirsty while running in the rains, all those extra layers and the effort of the run will increase your perspiration and get you dehydrated faster. Remember to keep the water bottle handy and replenish your supply as on a regular run. And no, don’t be tempted by the falling raindrops and have a sip of that instead.
5. Electronics check
The rains can be quite cruel on your precious smartphones, players and other gizmos, so it makes sense to opt for running clothes with inside pockets and waterproof linings. If these don’t do the trick, you might have to consider waterproof cases, though more often than not, a sealed plastic (such as Ziploc) bag does the trick as well. You could also leave your gadgets home, unless you’re trail-running, in which case, having GPS support is a blessing.
6. Sock trouble
Cotton socks are a big no-no when it comes to running. If you’re a regular runner, it may be wise to invest in Gore-tex socks that keep the wet out of your shoes. No matter how nimble-footed you claim to be, you will step on a puddle or a wet patch on a run and your socks are likely to get soggy and lead to alarming blisters. So opt for a acrylic or polypropylene blend material.
7. Shoe care
Remember to take out your shoe’s insoles and loosely stuff them with newspaper once you’re back from each run. This will keep them in shape and absorb the excess moisture — and it’s a much better option than directly heating your shoes with a hair dryer or such, as that can end up unsealing the glue and rubber holding them together. To avoid wearing out your favorite pair, it’s best to rotate through your old practice shoes during the rainy season.