You planned to walk today, but the rain had other plans. Instead of jumping on an indoor treadmill or skipping the walk altogether, make a few adjustments and you can still be safe, comfortable and enjoy your walk outdoors. From gear choices to route planning, here are a few tips you can use to continue walking outdoors even when spring weather doesn’t want to cooperate.
RAINCOATS VS. UMBRELLAS
In most instances, an umbrella might work for a casual stroll around the block or to run from your car to the door in a downpour. However, they can be less practical when it’s windy — or when you’re on a dedicated walking workout. Invest in a raincoat or poncho to free up your arm swing and give you one less thing to worry about while you exercise.
Luckily, raincoats come in a variety of weights depending on the temperature, and they do a great job of keeping you dry and comfortable while you exercise. Look for one that’s breathable to accommodate your rising body temperature during exercise. Hoods are also a feature you’ll want to consider, as they can keep your head dry without the need for a cap and can easily be removed if you heat up. Here’s an option that can be worn alone in warmer weather or layered with other items when it’s cold, and it works great for hiking and running, too.
If it’s not raining when you leave the house and you want something you can stuff in your pocket just in case the weather changes, a disposable poncho can work as well. These temporary options are cheap and keep you relatively dry in a pinch. They’re also good options for a road race when you might not want the bulk and heat of a more traditional raincoat. Disposable ponchos can also be thrown away during an event, so you won’t have to carry anything you don’t need to the finish line.
LAYERING IS KEY
For most walkers, layering is a better option than purchasing bulky rain gear. A light, thin rain jacket and waterproof pants are more versatile, allowing you to wear them alone in the spring and fall when the temperatures might not be as frigid, then add layers as necessary when the temperatures drop.
When it’s cold and raining, here are a few items to consider:
- A base layer: This item helps to wick away moisture while you walk to keep you dry and comfortable.
- A mid-layer: Worn on top of the baselayer, merino wool or fleece are good midweight layers that can be an option when it’s particularly chilly out.
- Shell: A rain jacket and waterproof pants that keep you as dry as possible when you’ll be forced to spend extended periods of time in the rain.
DON’T FORGET YOUR FEET
There’s no doubt soaking wet shoes can make any walk miserable. Thankfully, there are waterproof walking and running shoes available that can keep your feet relatively dry even in a downpour. Here’s one option that repels water and has improved traction to inspire grip on slick streets.
Other items you might want to consider are waterproof socks and gaiters. While these may not be necessary unless you’re hiking or in really wet weather, they can go a long way in keeping you more comfortable. Gaiters, in particular, help keep water from trickling down into your shoes from your pants while providing an extra protection for your shoes and socks against the elements.
CHOOSE A GOOD ROUTE
Picking the right route can make all the difference between an enjoyable walk and a forgettable one. For this reason, it’s best to avoid some of your routes when it’s wet or raining. This includes:
- Busy streets. Streets with lots of traffic increase your chance of getting splashed.
- Areas that collect water. Having your path blocked by water either forces you to cut your workout short or get your feet wet. Underpasses or drainage areas should be avoided.
- Dirt trails. Even with hiking shoes, muddy terrain can be tough to navigate for miles on end.
- Summits. That epic hiking trail with beautiful views won’t be as magnificent with all the cloud coverage.
Instead, opt for quieter routes through neighborhoods, sidewalks at a local park or multi-use paths where the terrain is safer and more predictable.
ADJUST YOUR PLANS AS NECESSARY
You know that really long walk you had planned or that difficult set of uphill intervals at your local trail? When it’s raining, it might not be the ideal day to push forward. Instead, be flexible with training plans and adjust them as necessary depending on the weather.
Forcing yourself to spend long periods outdoors or head to unsafe locations just to complete a workout can put your safety in jeopardy. It’s a better option to go out for a slower-paced effort for a moderate amount of time that won’t require as much mental fortitude to complete. This also decreases your chances of injury and keeps your motivation high so you can get back at it the following day.
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ADDITIONAL SAFETY ITEMS TO CONSIDER
Because of the conditions, there may be a few other items you should consider to stay as safe and comfortable as possible in the rain.
- High-visibility gear. Reflective gear or clothing utilize high-visibility colors to help you be seen more easily by others on the road.
- Walking poles. These can improve balance and traction if you do decide to hit the trails or other uneven surfaces.
- Backpack cover. If you hike or walk with a backpack, a cover keeps your items dry.
- Gloves. While not necessary in light rain, neoprene gloves keep you comfortable, dry and warm when it’s really wet and cold out.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your walk. While it can be common to immediately become negative or think about how miserable your walk will be, try to stay positive and be grateful for the opportunity to get active. This can go a long way toward changing your perspective.
Here a few things to keep in mind when you start to get down about the less-than-perfect weather:
- The rain can be relaxing. There are likely less people out, and the sound of the rain can bring about peacefulness and a solitude that might otherwise be absent.
- Exercising in wet weather can boost metabolism. According to this study, you’ll burn more fat and calories when exercising in the rain.
- It develops good exercise habits. Not letting the rain be an excuse to skip your workout builds solid habits that get you one step closer to your ultimate goals.
- It makes your post-walk activities even better. A hot shower and warm beverage are even better after a workout in the rain.
Make progress every day while you work on fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.