Running in the rain is generally considered safe. But if there are thunderstorms in your area that include lightning, or it’s downpouring and the temperature is below freezing, running in the rain may be dangerous.

If you’re going to run while it’s raining, make sure you’re appropriately dressed for the elements. Before you head out, always tell someone where you’re going to run and for approximately how long.

Read on to learn about some of the pros and cons of running in the rain, plus tips to keep yourself safe.

Running in light to moderate rainfall is safe. You may even find it relaxing or therapeutic to run while it’s raining.

Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind.

Avoid lightning and thunderstorms

Check the weather forecast before you head out. If there are thunderstorms nearby and lightning in your area, postpone your run, move it to an indoor treadmill, or do a different cardiovascular workout.

Know and be ready for the temperature

Check the temperature. If it’s at or below freezing and raining heavily, it can be difficult for your body to stay warm. This can increase your risk for hypothermia.

When you return home after your run, immediately remove any wet shoes, socks, and clothing. Get warm quickly by wrapping yourself in a warm blanket or taking a warm shower. Sip on tea or hot soup to stay warm and hydrated.

Know the area

Watch out for slippery roads, washed out trails, and flooding. Avoid these areas whenever possible.

Wear shoes with good traction

You may also want to wear shoes that have additional traction or treading on them so you don’t slip when it’s raining.

Added traction usually means a shoe that has different points of contact with the ground. It has more grip instead of a smooth, flat surface.

Roads and sidewalks can become slippery when it’s raining. You may want to slow your pace slightly to avoid slipping or wiping out.

When it’s raining, it’s not a good time to do a speed workout. Instead, focus on distance or time. Shorten your stride to avoid falling. If you had a speed workout planned, consider moving it to an indoor treadmill instead.

Visibility may also be reduced in the rain. Cars may have a harder time seeing you. Wear bright, visible colors, like neon. Use a reflector light or vest.

While light rain shouldn’t affect your run too much, avoid roads or areas where flooding has occurred. Take care when running through puddles. They may be deeper than they appear.

If you’re running on a trail in the rain, watch your footing. You may encounter slippery ground, slick leaves, and fallen branches.

Wear running shoes that are meant for trail running. They should have good traction and repel water, or drain easily.

On the trail, avoid wearing headphones so you can hear what’s going on around you. You can also run in the open when it’s raining.

Heavy rain and windy weather can loosen branches and even trees, bringing them down onto the path. If you’ll be running under the canopy of any trees, pay attention.

It’s important to run with a buddy, especially on remote trails. That way, if one of you gets injured, the other can administer basic first aid or call for help, if needed.

Dress in light and moisture-repelling layers when you’re running in the rain to more easily control your body temperature. That may include:

  • a base layer, such as a long-sleeve shirt, under a T-shirt
  • a waterproof shell layer on top, such as a light rain jacket

Compression shorts may help prevent chafing if your legs get wet.

Wear running shoes that have solid traction, such as waterproof trail running shoes with a Gore-Tex lining.

If your shoes aren’t waterproof or they get wet inside, the insoles might be removable. Pull these out after your run to help them dry out.

Studies show there aren’t a lot of physical benefits to running in the rain. In fact, it may decrease your sports performance and burn fewer calories.

But mentally, running in the rain can make you a more resilient runner. For example, if you continually train in rain or other adverse weather conditions, you may find your run times improve when it clears up outside.

Paths and trails may also be less crowded on a rainy day.

If you signed up for a road race of any length and it’s raining, follow the advice of race officials. More tips for racing in the rain are below.

Stay warm

If there’s an indoor or covered area where you can shelter before the race begins, stay there as close to the start as possible.

If you’re outdoors before the start, wear a plastic poncho, or even torn garbage bags, over your clothing to keep them as dry as possible. (You can toss this layer before the race.)

Jog or do some dynamic stretches to warm up and stay warm before the run.

If possible, plan to leave a change of dry clothes with a friend so you can change into them quickly after the race.

Aim to finish, not for your personal best

Your goal should be to finish, not get your personal best when the weather is a factor. Visibility may be reduced, and the roads may be slick.

Stay safe and keep a steady pace. Remember, even the pros get slower times in the rain.

Get dry and warm afterward

Remove wet clothing, including shoes and socks, as soon as possible after you cross the finish line. You may want to forego the postrace festivities and head straight home to take a warm shower. If you still can’t get warm, seek medical attention.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to follow physical distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when you’re running.

Even in the rain, it’s still important to keep your distance from others so you don’t get sick or spread germs. Plan to stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart. This is about two arms’ length.

Look for wide sidewalks or paths where it will be easier to keep your distance.

Follow your local government’s guidelines for wearing a face covering when running, too. It may be required where you live. In places where physical distancing in public is difficult, it’s even more important.

Running in the rain can be a safe way to get your exercise in, even on a poor weather day. You may even find you enjoy running in the rain.

Be sure to dress appropriately. Also remove any wet clothing as soon as you get home to prevent getting sick.