Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tips for Running in the Rain with Kelly Feet

- By Maureen Baraka Bonfante

We need it. We can't live without it. Running! And, of course the rain. But for many the combo is like oil and vinegar, requiring too much effort to get the two to blend and stay blended for a successful run.

How can you run with "Kelly Feet" as you do on warm sunny days?

And, not feel like a blade runner hanging on for life on the edge of a wet beam?

Be  Prepared!

Understanding Weather Conditions: "Is It Safe?"

Even the most diehard runners will agree that safety is first and foremost in deciding weather or not to run in extreme weather conditions. If there is a chance of lightening strikes, flooding, strong winds or heavy rains that can impede visibility or make roads or trails unsafe, skip your run or delay it until conditions improve. If the rain poses no threat you can make the most of it by doing the following:

Dress Appropriately: Keep it Light

Avoid wearing thick cotton or other fabrics that hold water like a sponge which can weigh you and your bottoms down!

Instead wear clothes made of high performance fabrics. If you don't have any wear lightweight cotton or synthetics that hold the least amount of water.

If you want to keep more water out try wearing a light weight rain poncho. Many when folded are compact enough to fit in a fanny pack. With prices ranging from under a dollar and up it is not a bad investment. Some drawbacks of wearing a rain poncho; it can get in the way as you arms swing and legs fly and it can get hot in there as you body's heat can't dissipate well. 

You can wear a light weight wind and waterproof jacket or rain jacket with vents. Prices generally range from $30 and up. In either case you want to make sure you wear a lighter top underneath so you don't get too hot.

I prefer to run with just a performance tee shirt. A long sleeve one when it is cooler outside. I don't mind the rain. Being soaked from sweat, rain it is all the same. I usually carry an extra tee. The performance ones can roll up tight and can fit in my 12.5" x 6" x 4" waist pack. They run from $7 and up. You can also carry an extra one in a small running backpack $35 and up.

Waist packs and running backpacks are great if you need to carry more than keys and/or wallet. A cheaper alternative is using a drawstring backpack. Every household has at least one received as a promotional item from a race, work, conference or other event. If it is not the waterproof type, put your things in a plastic or large freezer zip lock bag first. (Tip: to keep the bag from flip-flopping around as you run pull the ends of the draw strings to tie around your front. If they are not long enough to tie around you can extend them with shoe laces, a bandana, etc.). Another option is using small children's backpacks.

Mommies if you have little one's who fuss a bit when you try to go out for a run while they stay behind with daddies, other relatives, friends or neighbors, think about asking them to lend you their little backpacks, "so mommy can carry her things." Make them feel as if they are contributing and being a part of your running time in some way. Let them know that you will think of them and feel inspired by running with it. If you are not a mommy don't worry no one will tell.
Head Gear

I like to wear a bandana to keep sweat from dripping down my face, neck or into my ears on sunny days and found wearing one under a cap helps keep my head drier on rainy ones.

Wearing a cap with a good size brim can keep rain away from your eyes, improving visibility. If you can get a waterproof one that is ideal, or you can sport an umbrella hat like Bruce Almighty.
Covering up the Lower Limbs

Moving on to lower body cover the questions are, "To be or not to be wearing shorts?" if it isn't cold, short shorts versus other leg gear and using Vaseline. 

I am a fan of athletic clothes made with light weight performance fabrics. They can be pricey, and beginning runners maybe cautious about investing too much in gear in case they quit  running (Don't. You won't regret sticking with it! Trust me.), but they are so easy to wash, and dry so quick that you only need a few to get by. 

I prefer shorts that go at least mid thigh, capri length tights or full length ones if it is chilly. The friction, chafing caused when short shorts ride up and your thighs rub can be uncomfortable. Vaseline and sports lubes, like Go!Sports Lube can help. I just don't like the thought of having to reapply anything but sunscreen when I run.

"Are There Umbrellas for My Feet?"
There is little we can do to keep our precious feet from getting wet. And, "Yes," you may find tinny umbrellas such as these but, "No," they will not do more than keep your laces dry, assuming of course that you found a way to secure them to your shoes.
"So, what can you do?"
1) Don't wear thick, heavy socks. Go for the lightest weight socks in your drawer, whether they are performance socks or not. Again, you want to avoid materials that sponge up too much H2O. 

Performance socks maybe more expensive but your feet will chafe and blister less. Every major foot wear manufacturer has its own take on them (Nike, Adidas, New Balance, etc.). They come in different thicknesses. Some are shaped uniquely for the right and left foot so the sock doesn't bunch up by your toes and fits just right. If you like wearing Vibram Five Fingers they make socks for them too. 

And, manufacturers have even taken the performance sock process a step further by embedding them with aloe. These aloe embedded socks are like no other! They are super comfortable, but the cost is a bit high $9.99 to $15 for a pair by ASICS. If you are lucky you may find them cheaper. Having a pair or two for very long runs or races is great. Those are the times when you want your foot comfort to be optimal.

2) If you are going on a long run or participating in a long distance race such as the ING NYC Marathon consider taking extra pairs.

3) Put your feet in plastic bags before slipping on your sneakers and trim off the excess, or put a bit of saran wrap around them. The cons here are that your feet may feel uncomfortable especially if you sneakers are not roomy and the sweat and heat of your feet will be trapped inside. In addition, there is no guarantee it will keep you feet dry if your feet plunge in puddles. For a short run it may not be too bad.

4) Because running tracks, paths and roads can be slippery take it slow and postpone any speed training for another day. 

5) Avoid running on the white lines on roadways or those that mark off running and bike paths from driving lanes as they can be slippery. Try to run in the middle, where the road or path is flatter and not on the edge that curves down for water run off. Be careful running up or down curbs.

6) Avoid steep hills, steps and rocky paths.

7) Wear light weight running shoes with good traction on the soles. Bring an extra pair you can change into after a race.

Protecting Electronic Devices/Cell Phone Texting

If you must carry a cell phone, pager or other electronic device on a run put them in a zip lock bag. I recommend putting you cell phone in its own zip lock or two. 

Let loved ones know if they must reach you while you run to send you a text. I have found that if I must stop to text when I run, a sandwich size, 6 1/2" x 5 7/8" zip lock bag has enough room for me to use the slide out keyboard and text while my cell is secure inside. This is also when wearing a cap with a good brim or umbrella hat comes in handy.

For safety sake and to protect your electronic devices from water damage do not use them in the rain.

The Versatility of Good 'ol Garbage/Rubbish Bags on the Run

You've come a long way "Hefty!" Once upon a time trash bags were use for just that. They were unsightly and kept under covers of trash cans and  bins. But, just as we have found new uses for Duct Tape so too we have found new uses for our Hefty's. Need a rain coat in a pinch pull out a 30lb trash bag from your pocket, waist pack or back pack and slip it on. No complex assembly required or tools. Just poke or rip an opening for your head and arms and away you go. Have I mentioned that black goes with anything? It does!

Young/Old. Female/Male. Everyone is getting into them. Even Hollywood stars. 
Bradley Cooper filming The Silver Linings Playbook
 And, it is the latest Haute Couture.
Pros: They are cheap and compact. You can use, reuse, recycle them. If black clashes with your assemble you can wear clear ones, blue ones, gray ones or green ones. Unlike a rain poncho, it will not get in your way as your arms swing because...

Con: Unlike a rain jacket your arms are not covered.

Tips for NYC & Other Commuters

I carry a light weight hoodie to wear when I am done running and sometimes either a pair of light weight warmup or yoga pants. Articles of clothing I can roll up tight and put a rubber band around, so that I don't have a bulky pack back when I run. I will throw in an extra bandana and pair of socks and on occasion a pair of folding "Kushyfoot" flats like these.
I get chills after a long run, especially in the rain and getting on a NYC air conditioned subway train afterwards can be brutal. Since most times I have no where to change after a race or when I run outdoors away from home, I find that I can have a comfortable ride on my return if I just slip on my hoodie and warmup pants over my running clothes and change out of my wet socks and shoes. The Kushyfoot flats are not waterproof but they are more comfy than wearing waterlogged sneakers on a hour and a half commute. If I am at a race where I can check my bag or have a loved one mind it for me, I will bring an extra pair of sneakers.
In the end, you want to be prepared and do everything you can so you feel good about your outdoor running experiences especially in inclement weather such as rain. This will keep you  motivated and always looking forward to the next time you run, with "Kelly Feet."

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