Racing In Undesirable Conditions (Part 2)

Earlier in the year, I wrote a post about “How to race in undesirable conditions.”  Little did I know, my streak would continue after my injury and Lady weather luck would not be on my side.

In case you need a short recap of bad weather I’ve raced in this year: 

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.50) pouring rain, 40 degrees
April Fools Half Marathon (1:24.08) 50 MOH headwind
Broad Street 10 miler (1:01.59) pouring rain, 40 degrees
Newport 10k (37:59) 80+ degrees and unseasonable heat
RNR Va Beach (1:29.56) Hurricane and 40 mph winds
RNR Philly (1:27.37) unseasonable 80-degree heat and humidity
Base Half Marathon (1:25.28): 40 degrees, pouring rain and windy

Shamrock half marathon

I am beginning to think you should avoid racing with me if you want to run in good race conditions.  You can’t control the weather, and these are just the situations I’m handed.  Do I wish the weather was better? Of course! 

Since March wasn’t the end of my bad weather streak, I decided to revisit the topic and think about more methods.  To be honest, racing in bad weather is best covered by being prepared with the right clothing and layers.

Rain: 
  • Before the race: Have throw away clothing or trash bags.  The goal is to keep yourself as dry as possible before the race. Trash bags are great because they keep you dry and are inexpensive!

Trash bag your shoes and your entire self.  This year, 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.  Thicker socks can retain more water like a sponge. There are a lot of thin socks, but my favorite is the low cut CEP compression because they hug your feet and provide support as well as compression.

In all of the races I’ve done this year, I haven’t gotten any blisters because I wore thin noncotton socks.

  • Hats: Before this spring I never ran in hats. They never stayed on my head.  This year I’ve found hats keep the rain off my face.  I like my logo Headsweats hat from work.
  • While I don’t race with a phone, I know many racers do. Put your phone in a Ziploc bag to make sure it doesn’t get water damage.  About a month ago, I got caught in a downpour, and my phone was toast (luckily I had insurance).
Wind: 

The problem with races along the shore can be the wind.  Races along the coast are typically flat, but you never know if you’ll face a headwind!

The last mile at Atlantic City was headwind
The last mile at Atlantic City was headwind
  • Run with a Pack: Running with a pack of people isn’t always possible, but it makes running a lot easier both mentally and physically.  You can remind yourself; you aren’t facing the wind alone.  During Shamrock this year, I got caught in a 2 mile stretch of headwind alone.  It was miserable.
  • 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!
  • Running into a headwind will cost you both time and energy.  It’s not a reflection of your fitness level and don’t worry too much (easier said than done).
  • Invest in a good piece of wind resistant clothing. The wind can be piercing and chill you to the bone.  Many companies make a light windbreaker that will keep you warm.
Heat:

While the cooler months are coming, heat is definitely something to deal still with.  The fact that it is 70 degrees is one clue!

If you want to follow in Rupp’s footsteps than try putting ice in your hat.  For the rest of us staying hydrated is usually critical.

  • Hydration, Hydration, Hydration: Even if you don’t feel like you’re thirsty, it’s important to hydrate before, during and after a race.  When I know the temperatures are hotter than I’m used too, I take Gatorade and water at every water stop in distances above 10k.

    How much is enough?
    How much is enough?
  • Less is More: I’m not saying run naked at a family friendly 5k, but dress for the conditions.  If it’s hotter than you are used to, wear a tank top or shorts.  Body glide and antichaffing cream will become your best friends,  (If we ever race together, believe me, I have a tube in my car you can borrow).
  • Sunglasses: Generally heat brings out the sun too. Find a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.

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

Rain: 

Gortex Running Jacket ($249.99)

broad street 10 miler 1

Hands down this is my favorite piece of running apparel I’ve ever bought.  From my last post: “It’s the most expensive piece of running apparel I own, but it’s worth it.”

Honestly, I feel the same way now as when I purchased that jacket and wrote my previous post.  My Gortex jacket is the best piece of apparel I bought last year to deal with the weather.

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.

Lululemon What the Sport Short (on sale): $29

I’ve raced in these in all conditions and never chafed.  They are long enough that my thighs don’t rub together but short enough that I don’t overheat.  Plus they have pockets.  They also don’t become see-through in the rain.

Hat: Headsweats Visors 

This is the hat I own, and you can get it logo’ed to whatever you like or need.  Should I get FueledbyLOLZ team hats (just kidding)?

No rain on my face.
No rain on my face.

Sunglasses: The Tailwind from Nike stay on my face. I have a round shaped head so finding sunglasses can be tough.

Roll Virginia Beach results

As I said last time, 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 to stay positive throughout the race.

I wasn’t positive during Shamrock half marathon, and I truly believe that is what caused me not to race well.  I maintained positive for the rest of the races and dressed appropriately.  Now I shrug off weather and just think: “other racers are dealing with the same conditions.”

Questions for you:

Have you ever raced in bad weather?  

What advice do you have?