Yesterday morning I was approaching a corner that leads back home when I found my neighbors perched by their veranda enjoying the rain and cool breeze. Upon seeing me they shot me a puzzled look and asked "How do you do it? Isn't it dangerous to run in the rain?" I proceeded to explain what I'm about to share with you now.
So, how do I do it? I start by checking for any thunderstorms and lightning and the strength of the rainfall by peeking outside and observing for roughly 10 minutes. While arriving at my conclusion I also open up a weather app on my phone to gain further insight on the situation outside. If the coast is clear (no thunderstorms and moderate rainfall), I get dressed in warm clothing which typically means a base layer of clothing under my reflective shirt and accompanying accessories plus a sports cap with all the other essentials such as running shorts, a GPS running watch and shoes. I set out on a familiar route to avoid any surprises such as falling through an uncovered manhole (believe me it happens!) or masked ditch. I run at a slower than usual pace for the entire duration of my run to avoid any slippery accidents as roads, sidewalks and other surfaces tend to be slippery when it rains.
Is it safe? Yes. Running in light to moderate rainfall is safe. In my opinion, there's really only two major concerns when it comes to running in the rain and those are visibility for motorists not to make a pancake out of you and lightning to prevent a human braai situation. If there's no thunderstorm get out there and get after it as the threat of lightning is minimized. With regards to visibility; If you drive you already know how difficult it can sometimes be to see during a downpour. As a runner you can protect yourself by wearing the appropriate reflective clothing and accessories to ensure that you can easily be seen while observing key personal safety guidelines.
The following items need to be considered and properly implemented for a successful and safe running session in the rain:
If you’re going to run while it’s raining, make sure you’re appropriately dressed in warm, reflective gear. Warm clothing is necessary to control your body temperature as it may get cold out there and reflective gear is essential because visibility is reduced in the rain. Cars may have a harder time seeing you so you should wear bright, visible colors along with reflective accessories.
Also on running gear, it's very important to wear appropriate running shoes with good grip to avoid any slippery accidents. A pro tip for wet shoes after a run in the rain is to crumple up some newspaper and stuff it into your wet shoes. The paper will absorb the excess water in your shoes thereby shortening the drying time and preventing them from smelling funny.
If there's thunderstorms and accompanying lightning then you should postpone or cancel your run until such a time when these things are no longer present. Getting your run done is not worth the risk of getting struck by lightning. Alternatively, you can opt to run indoors by hopping on a treadmill.
Roadrunners be very careful where you place your feet as the rain can conceal potholes, ditches and other uncovered openings. Be sure to run on familiar roads and on surfaces that you can clearly see. Additionally, avoid muddy surfaces to protect yourself from slipping and falling.
Get warm immediately after your run in the rain by removing all wet clothing, consuming a hot cup of tea and taking a hot bath. The objective is to raise your core body temperature after exposure in the rain.
Rain season is no excuse to let your fitness levels drop. Get out there and get it done no matter the circumstances.