How to Race Well in Unfavorable Conditions

My last three major Spring Races have been in crappy conditions.  Either it was pouring rain, wind gusts of 50MPH or both.  I know I’m in the best shape of my life, but you have to race for the conditions, and can’t control the weather.

How to Race in Unfavorable Conditions

The Shamrock half marathon was 40s pouring rain and windy

The April Fools Half Marathon was windy and had gusts of up to 50MPH

The Broad Street 10 miler was raining

I’m beginning to think you should avoid racing with me if you want to run in good conditions. 

I decided to think about ways and techniques I’ve learned to:

 Race Well in Unfavorable Conditions:
  • Wrap yourself in trash bags. The goal is to keep yourself as dry as possible before the race.  Trash bag your shoes and your entire self.  At Broad Street, several people passed me at the end still wearing their trash bags.
  • Wear form fitting clothing and avoid cotton. The more tightly fitting the clothing, the less it’s going to chafe, rub and become a wet soggy mess.
  • Thin socks: This is a must. The goal is to keep your feet as dry as possible.  There are a lot of thin socks, but my favorite are the low cut CEP compression because they hug your feet.
  • Hats: Before this spring I was never a hat person.  They never stayed on my head.  To keep the rain out of my eyes, I’ve experimented with hats.  I don’t have a recommendation as my favorite hat so far is from the Shamrock half marathon.
  • While I don’t race with a phone, I know many racers do. Put it in a Ziploc bag to make sure it doesn’t get water damage.

The problem with races along the shore in the Spring is the wind.  Races along the coast are typically flat, but you never know what kind of wind there will be.  Except the Carlsbad half marathon on the West, Coast…that was a windy shore race that wasn’t flat.

  • Try to run with a group. Running with a group isn’t always possible, but it makes running a lot easier both mentally and physically to run with a pack in the wind.  You also see other racers are battling the same elements.
  • Turn your head to the side to breathe. If you’re running through a headwind, turning your head to the side to breath makes it a lot easier.  I didn’t know that until this year!
  • Invest in a good piece of wind resistant clothing. The wind can be piercing and chill you to the bone.  Combined with rain, it is one of most undesirable weather conditions.  Try a lightweight windproof jacket.  I recommend using as much tight fitting clothing as possible so that it doesn’t blow around.

I’m not getting paid to promote any of these pieces of clothing, but they are items I’ve had success with:

Gortex Running Jacket ($249.99)

This is the most expensive piece of running apparel I own, but it’s worth it.  It kept me dry at Broad Street and kept the wind out.  If you can, I would recommend investing in a Gortex Jacket.  I never knew how amazing they were until I did.

CEP Low Compression Socks ($20):

I like the low cut socks because I can use compression sleeves as well.  My shoe size and calf size are different so the high socks won’t fit my feet and calves.  The socks themselves are thin, and if they do get wet, they won’t weigh you down.

The best piece of advice for any racing is to stay positive.  At the end of the day, you can’t control the weather.  You have to make the best of the situation, and if you’re able to think positively, you’ll be able

Questions for you:

How do you race in unfavorable conditions?

What is the worst weather you’ve run in?