Why You Should Train In All Of The Elements

I love running in the rain.  It might sound weird.  But I just love it!  Sure it can be hard to get out of the door.  Yet, once I get started I feel like a kid splashing in puddles.

A few years ago, the 10 day weather report had rain in the forecast for the Chicago Marathon.  Athletes started contacting me and asking what they should do if it rained on race day.  I heard some bizarre ideas such as placing plastic bags over shoes (which is not a good idea, by the way) or running in garbage bags (again, not a recommended idea).  “What do I do if it rains on race day?” was what I heard from a lot of runners.  “Run in the rain,” was my response.


The week before that marathon, it snowed during our last long training run.  Guess what we did?  We ran in it.

It is cold in the winter.  It is hot in the summer.  Allergies hit in the spring.  Leaves cover the ground in the fall and and make paths a bit treacherous.  You must run through all of it.

We had a relatively moderate winter this year.  However, there were a few cold and snowy runs that were just awful.  I did 12 miles with ice pelting my eyeballs.  Literally pelting my eyeballs!  I remember thinking at the time that this was the part of spring marathon training that really stinks.



Training for fall marathons isn’t much better.  Long training runs during the summer can be hot, humid, and sticky.  It certainly slows your pace down and can be frustrating.

In order to be prepared for any race, you really must train the elements.  That means running if there is rain falling on the ground.  Train through the snow.  Be smart and hydrate and then go slow during the heat, but aim to get your runs in.  Don’t skip a session because it is windy one day.

If you go on vacation in the middle of winter, go ahead and get some hot and sweaty runs in.  Your body will adjust and it is great training for later.  But always remember to hydrate and eat properly before these runs.  It might also mean getting out of bed a little earlier in the morning, or waiting until later in the day when the sun has started to set.


But probably don’t run in a hurricane !

What happens if you find yourself running a marathon in the rain or against horrible wind gusts?  By sticking to your plan and training through all situations you will run like a Boy Scout; always prepared!  A prepared runner is a confident runner.  You can go into your race and say, “I’ve got this!”


26 thoughts on “Why You Should Train In All Of The Elements

  1. so true. i’ve thankfully never run a race in bad conditions — my two full marathons have been such gorgeous October days, for which i was SO thankful! elements def affect your running and training, and i hear you on training for a fall marathon — those long summer runs in the humidity and heat can be brutal. i don’t mind running in the rain as long as it’s warm out. last year it started downpouring around mile 9 (for me) of the BK Half and it actually felt so nice!

  2. I LOVE summer rainy runs! 🙂

    Not so much when it is 30 and freezing rain … or ice pellets in the face with high winter winds.

    But I LOVE running in normal snow, especially when it is that type of quiet morning with fresh-fallen snow … ahhh.

    But I agree – you should really learn to run in any conditions, because once that is no longer a hurdle … well, you can just enjoy running. At least that is how I look at it. Sure I gripe and groan about -20F, but that means that when it is 10F it is really no biggie (ok, seeing potential sub-zero windchills for next week is annoying, but it won’t stop me!)

    It gets back to the mental aspect – if you only train outside when it is nice, adverse conditions will mess with your mind. If you train in anything, suddenly the weather is not a mental factor (though the physical effects of wind are very real! ). It is like the old Boy Scout motto – Be Prepared. 🙂

  3. Before cancelling my gym membership, I’d only run outside when it was cool and sunny even though the treadmill makes me feel like a sad cog. Quitting the gym was the best thing I ever did for my running. Running in wet, cold, windy, hot weather is so much more fun than being in a gym staring at the Price is Right – as long as you’re dressed right, stay hydrated and all that.

    Once I was a moron and ran despite a tornado warning. Spent the whole time looking for something to hold on to because that’s how you survive a tornado. I draw the line at lightning. If I see or hear it coming, my pace miraculously spikes!

  4. I love this post! One of the largest races in the area, and in the country, is tomorrow, the Cooper River Bridge Run. A lot of runners are so worried about the potential for rain, but why worry about something you can’t change and have no control over? If you have trained for a race, most likely you trained in different types of weather anyway. I understand everyone’s comfort zone is different, but if you don’t feel comfortable running in the conditions of a race, you can always stay at home and figure some of your proceeds went to charity.

    Only exception for me is a thunderstorm, tornado, or if the conditions are just unsafe… but in those cases, the race would probably be cancelled anyway.

      • It’s not a bad race, but Charleston has better.

        If you’re ever interested in a destination race in Charleston, I highly recommend the Charleston Marathon/Half over the Cooper River Bridge Run.

        Besides, it was supposed to rain today, and it hasn’t. The weather people just want to sensationalize :).

  5. Pingback: Friday Favorites 4.1.16 | Three's a Herd

  6. Growing up in Ireland I think I’ve had my fill of rain – now I live in the desert! That said my very first half marathon and my second marathon were run in Utah and were in huge downpours. As in raining non-stop, puddles everywhere and squelchy shoes (but miraculously no blisters). It wasn’t ideal but you just get on with it because us long distance runners are just badasses, right?

  7. Living in the wonderful PNW, we get plenty of running in the rain practice, but honestly we don’t mind it…most of the time. For me, when the wind picks up and starts driving the rain horizontal, then not so much but you just have to push on. Last summer was our hottest on record and all kinds of crazy weather, but it ultimately resulted in my first ever sub-4 hour marathon in Chicago. The only real show stopper for me in the ice in mid-winter, just too treacherous and that’s what treadmill’s are for!

  8. I’m certainly not an elite runner, but I take my training seriously for marathons or last years 50K. I live in south Texas and I know more about training in heat and humidity than anything. I taught myself early on to not be a “fair weather” runner meaning, I was out there running in cold, in wind, in rain, ( one time, crazy pouring rain, but hey my race was only weeks out!) and my theory has always been train in everything ’cause you never know what race day is gonna offer up to you and you need to be prepared =)

  9. I ran a 5k in Ohio a couple of years ago and coming from Arizona, I was freaking out when I saw that it was freezing rain. Literally. The rain turned to ice as it fell. It was SOOO cold–I was shivering, my shoes got soaked, my watch wouldn’t get signal–but I ended up getting a PR!! I think I was just so cold, I ran as fast as I could to get back indoors, lol!!

    It’s hard for us to prepare for cold weather here in AZ but I’m sure our heat training helps for something, jaja!!

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