Training in the Rain

/ Shawn Stasko

Alright, it's time to workout. So what do we do first in preparation? Check the weather.
Rain in the forecast..."damn."  First thing you probably want to do is curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and snarl at the weatherman. I say nay, and in fact, yay.

When mother nature decides it's time to downpour on our workout, this is the time to thank her for the gift we as athletes have been given. This is a chance to challenge our norm; a chance to push our limits and give our body another chance to prepare for the unknown challenges of race day. There are no guarantees for the weather on race day, and as we've probably all experienced, rain can be a real surprise when it happens.

Published in the May 2010 edition of the International Journal of Biometeorology, T. Vihma discusses the effects of weather on the performance of Stockholm marathon runners from 1980-2008. Vihma confirms previous findings by Zhang et. al from 1992 that rain has less of an impact on finishing time of those who run faster and more of an impact on finishing time of those who run slower. So what does that mean for our training?  Don’t be a statistic – get out there and train in the rain! 

Here are 3 tips to maximize the benefits of rain training with any exercise regimen: 

1) Rain is ready-made A/C for an exercising body. During exercise, we can produce upwards of ten times more heat than when at rest. When it's raining, Mother Nature provides us with a natural cooling agent for our workout. Enjoy the cooling sensation, but be careful not to under dress as sometimes too much can zap that intramuscular warmth. 

 2) Dodging the puddles gives our brain a chance to sharpen our exercising motor skills. Seems silly right?  Bobbing and weaving up and around each oddly shaped pool of water in our path. This task of maneuvering may seem like a game, but its no joke, and can be very beneficial to our nervous systems.  Take this task very deliberately and use the rain as a chance to practice avoiding things that abruptly appear in your path. Day of competition, you've got to be ready for anything, and performing a fast-paced reaction could be detrimental to a joint or muscle group if not rehearsed. 

 3) Rain makes things wet, and when your equipment and your surroundings get slippery, some unforeseeable consequences can follow. Painted surfaces normally whisked over can become an ice rink, and edges of rocks, trees, or roots can be slippery too. Stay nimble and loose when traversing any of these obstacles and try to limit sudden drop offs if possible. Slippery surfaces mean less traction, and that goes for your footing too. Furthermore, rain gives us a preview of how our body handles our equipment. Often times blisters will show up on a pair of trusty shoes that you've never thought to consider changing. Socks, base layers, and any points of friction suddenly make themselves known the longer you're at it, and finding this out during training can keep nagging discomfort at bay on race day when everything needs to be working smoothly.

Follows these 3 rain training tips to ensure a smooth and rewarding training session. This way, when race day arrives and you hear groans about rain coming from the corral ahead, there will only one thought running through your mind: "Good, now I can pass you, you, AND you even sooner than before."

You aren't afraid of a little rain. Get out there and get your feet wet.




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