We received this question via Twitter last week and to be honest, it was a difficult one to answer with the 140 character limit so we decided to make it a feature on our site.
“It’s supposed to rain at my race this weekend, what do I do?”
Well, you have a few options when approaching this question. We’ll start with the critical thinking approach. In this scenario, we’re assuming you have at least a few days to plan for the rain. If this is the case, before you do anything, we recommend stopping into your nearest Fleet Feet Sports store. Our staff lives and breathes running and more than likely, they’ve been in this exact situation. Depending on who you ask, they might recommend similar-but-different gear, depending on their brand of choice. But there are a few things we can all agree on.
A super-lightweight jacket will keep the weather at bay, while not causing you to overheat.
Two brands have recently released a revolutionary-like product that was pretty much designed for this exact situation. They're both extremely lightweight, packable, and weatherproof. Since they're both packable, you can basically pack it up and run with it in your hand if worse comes to worse. If it's supposed to be a bit chilly, layer the jacket with some lightweight baselayers that we'll be talking about in the next section.
Nike Impossibly Light Jacket
- Ultralight, durable fabric helps protect against wind, rain
- Packable design allows for easy carrying and storage
- Extended hem provides added coverage
- Raglan sleeves allow natural range of motion
- Adjustable multi-panel hood enhances coverage
- Reflective details stand out in low light
Brooks LSD Jacket
- Four-way-stretch fabric
- Full-zip with chin guard and draft flap
- Headphone anchor zipper pull
- Water-resistant zip hand pockets with inner security pocket and headphone anchor on right side
- Soft, stretch cuffs
- Front and back retroreflectivity
Pick-up some merino wool. It won't keep you dry, but it will keep you warm once wet.
Not educated on merino wool? It's time to get with the movement. Merino wool pulls moisture vapor to the surface of the fabric, where it is able to evaporate before the vapor turns into sweat. Icebreaker's website claims it can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture before you even start to feel wet, and it dries fast.
In cold weather, Icebreaker claims its merino performance fabric uses moisture absorbed from the environment to generate heat (a process called “heat of sorption”). Its crimped (wavy) fibers also contain millions of air pockets that lock in body heat to keep you toasty. Smartwool's website even claims that merino fibers and fabrics can absorb up to 30% of their dry weight before feeling wet. Most synthetics feel wet after they absorb less than 7%.
Icebreaker Sphere Short Sleeve Crew
*Icebreaker also makes long sleeve crews for colder conditions.
- Stay comfortable as you run through hot conditions
- Merino wool blend wicks moisture and dries quickly
- Naturally odor-resistant to keep fabric fresh
- Offset shoulder seams prevent pack rub
Pick up some thin, non-cotton socks that won’t absorb much water and limit unnecessary movement that WILL cause blisters.
Cotton socks will soak up water and make your shoes extremely heavy, squishy and squeaky throughout the entire race. Instead pick up a pair of running socks with compression to minimize water absorption and movement. Smartwool even makes socks made out of merino wool to keep your feet warm once they get wet, but they could get too warm on a hot day so we're listing a few options.
Smartwool Merino PhD Ultra Light
- Strategically placed mesh ventilation zones provide ventilation for temperature and moisture management
- Virtually seamless toe
- 1.5" overall height
- Sock Height: Micro
- Made in USA of Imported Yarn: 54% Merino Wool, 42% Nylon, 4% Elastane
Stance Fusion Run Crew
- Reflective logo for increased visibility
- Breathable performance mesh
- Lightweight terry select cushioning
- Left/right engineered arch support
- Reinforced toe and heel
Feetures Ultra Light
- Patented Sock-Lock Technology to provide targeted compression where it’s needed most.
- Anatomical design enhances fit, delivering maximum comfort and protection by eliminating blisters.
- Ultra thin construction takes up minimal room inside the shoe.
- iWick fibers wick moisture to keep feet cool and dry.
- The Perfect Toe® (No irritating toe seam.)
Wear a hat and sunglasses to keep rain out of your eyes.
It might not be the current fashion trend but you'll be happy you made the purchase when your competitors are constantly using their hands to wipe their eyes and hair. A hat will limit water dripping down your forehead into your eyes and keep your hair semi-comfortable. Double up on protection with sunglasses, even if it's not sunny.
Nike Ultra Feather Light Adjustable Hat
- Dri-FIT fabric to wick sweat away and help keep you dry and comfortable.
- Six-panel design with interior bonded seams for durability and comfort.
- Perforated panels for enhanced breathability.
- Adjustable strap with hook-and-loop closure at back for a snug, custom fit.
- Black underbill for reduced glare.
- Swoosh design trademark at front.
- Smoke lens with +2.0 reader lenses for crystal clear vision
- Vented lenses increase airflow to prevent fogging and keep you cool
- Grilamid TR-90 Frame: TR-90 is an incredibly light and durable nylon material that resists chemical and UV damage
- Fully adjustable ear pads provide a custom fit, limiting slippage and increasing comfort
- Hydrophilic rubber ear and nose pads increase their grip the more you sweat - no slipping
- 100% protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays
Join the Racing Team, we’ll have gear check at most races and have access to purchase the Nike Impossibly Light Jacket at a discount.
The Racing Team isn't as much a "racing" team as it is a running club. It's given that name because it was originally intended to be a safe space for locals to meet up and go to Chicagoland races together. Today, Racing Team members get discounts on dozens of Chicagoland races, the opportunity to purchase the Nike Impossibly Light jacket with a Fleet Feet Sports logo at a discounted price, AND access to a protected gear check tent at the majority of races. This means you can just bring a backpack and stash it for the duration of the race and we'll have some looking after it for security.
Obviously, there are less-than-ideal situations where you won’t have much time to plan.
Well, you’ll just have to run through it and tough it out. Sure, you’ll likely get drenched using this method but there are a few tips and tricks to make this as comfortable as possible given the unfortunate conditions.
Pick your best fitting clothes you have to eliminate weight from water and chafing.
The more excess fabric you have, the more water will be absorbed and the more excess weight you'll have to carry. The more excess weight, the higher chance you might have some accidental chafing. Ouch. Choose some form fitting clothes to eliminate it all.
Buy a cheap poncho or garbage bag to keep you dry before the race, ditch it when the race starts.
You might look like casper the friendly ghost, but at least you'll be dry before toeing the starting line. Toss it over to the side when the gun goes off and the lovely volunteers will likely pick it up and toss it for you. Thanks to our friends at Hefty, you can learn how to create a poncho out of a garbage bag.
Running with your phone? Put it in a Ziploc bag first.
Phone's aren't waterproof but a quick lifehack can save you hundreds. Place your phone in a sandwich sized Ziploc bag, suck all the air out, and make sure it's air-tightly sealed. This will add a layer of water protection at a low cost. Then you can stick it in your pocket or Flipbelt without much worry.
Use the newspaper trick to get your shoes dry overnight.
Another cheap lifehack. Roll up some of yesterday's newspaper into a ball and jam them into your shoes. The paper will act as a sponge and soak up the water in about 12 hours. Do NOT place your shoes in the dryer. This will jeopardize the technical fabrics that make the shoe as comfortable as it is and can also ruin the outsoles.
Pro-tip: Put cab-fare in your pocket. In case the race gets cancelled entirely during the run.
We've seen it happen during longer races. The organizers cancel the event mid-race and you're left hung out to dry and people are scrambling for cover, unsure how to get home and left to run excess miles home. Get that thought out of your head by stashing some money for a cab in the same Ziploc bag you put your phone in.
Have a spectator cheering you on? Have them bring a change of clothes.
This way you'll be able to participate in the post-race party in comfort and style, like you deserve to.