Q&A with Hal Higdon: Rain in the Forecast

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 | By Hal Higdon
 
 
 
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Got a question about running? You're in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon's Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.

QUESTION 

I am running a marathon on Sunday, and the forecast is for rain with temperatures in the 50’s. How do you dress for five hours of running in the rain with the temperatures that low?

HAL’S ANSWER

My fastest marathon was on a cold and rainy day. That was years ago, when I was forced to run in a cotton turtle-neck to stay warm. There are so many better options now that allow runners to stay warm if not dry. More important than clothes is to run an even pace. That allows you to maintain a steady body temperature. If you fade near the end and your pace-per-mile begins to slow, that is when you can get cold. But long before the finish line is in sight, you need to think about staying warm (and relatively dry) on the starting line. Bring some throwaway clothes. A garbage bag with holes cut for the arms and head can keep you somewhat dry. A plastic parka would be better.

Second, focus on the appendages. Start with a beaked cap to keep the rain off your face. Gloves to keep your hands warm. Light socks for the feet rather than bulky, cotton socks which will absorb water. Long-sleeved (wicking) shirt? Tights? I might not wear them with temps in the 50’s, so it depends on your comfort level. Hopefully you figured this out during some of your training runs.

Third and finally, think ahead to past the finish line. You will want dry clothes to change into after your race. Cold and rain is not always fun, but it is probably better than hot and humid. If you do everything right, you can run very fast in conditions such as those predicted for your marathon. Good luck doing just that.

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