Tips to Handle Inclement Weather On Race Day

 

By: Brian Elder


One of the most difficult things about training and preparing for race day is not knowing what the weather conditions will be like on the day of the event. You can spend weeks and months training, putting in the time and effort to prepare your body for a marathon hoping to achieve your goal, but one thing that will always be outside of your control is the weather. You can never know if the race conditions will be hot, cold, sunny, overcast, or rainy until about a week before at the earliest. Because we cannot know the weather conditions for our race during training, how can we prepare for inclement weather? Below I have listed a few tips on how you can prepare yourself for a race when there are possibilities for different types of inclement weather.  

Rain:

  • There will be days where it rains during training. Instead of always rescheduling a run, go out for a run in the rain. It doesn't have to be long, but this will help you understand what adjustments you need to make on the day of a race. 
  • Shorten your stride. The natural tendency when we are hyped on the day of a race is for our stride to extend, but if it is raining it is best to keep your feet under you and shorten your stride to decrease your chance of falling. 
  • Wear a running rain jacket. Although they can become expensive, running rain jackets are a great investment to keep you dry on the day of a race. 

Extreme Heat:

  • Although it sounds simple, hydrate. Make sure the days before that if it is going to be hot that you prepare accordingly and hydrate well multiple days in advance. 
  • Wear sweat-wicking or dri-fit clothing. If you wear cotton it will become wet, heavy, and probably cause you to chafe. 
  • Slow your pace down. Although this sounds counter intuitive during a race, it is better to slow your pace at the start and speed up if you have enough energy left towards the end of the race. You will feel better for the following hours if you finish strong with some energy and run 5 minutes slower than if you ran fast from the start and crawl to the finish.

Cold:

  • Pack the right clothing. When you leave for a race its almost always best to bring too much than to bring too little. Just because you pack multiple layers for cold weather doesn't mean you must wear them all. 
  • Buy cheap gloves from a dollar store. Wear them and throw them away after your body temperature and hands warm up on the course. 

Wind:

  • Wind is one of the most difficult to handle. It causes you to work much harder to maintain pace. If it's windy, do not worry about trying to maintain pace, but try to maintain the effort you would at your normal race pace. 
  • Wear form fitting clothing. Loose clothing will cause you to feel the effects of the wind more than if the clothing is snug to your body. 
  • If it is cold and windy. Cover as many parts of your body with clothing as possible while still being comfortable. Wind burn can hurt just as much as sun burn. 

One of the most important things to know if inclement weather occurs is that your mentality has to change. Maybe you change your goal or expected finish time, but keeping realistic expectations in bad weather is important. It makes me nervous even thinking about the possibility of inclement weather on race day, but I know that if I am properly prepared the race day can be a success even if there is bad weather! 


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Brian Elder is a learner, amateur explorer, and nomadic runner that is going to run until it takes him somewhere. He is a senior at the University of Georgia studying English and Religion.  After running competitively on trails and roads, he fuels with an appetite so big you would swear it’s competitive.  Follow Brian on Instagram.