Coach Jeff

Written by Coach Jeff


Running Marathon in Bad Weather

Running a marathon or half marathon in the rain, cold, or heat isn’t an exciting thought. However, you can’t change the weather, so the best strategy is to be prepared. The following is a brief list of some innovative strategies and tips that you can implement on race day in the face of challenging weather.


  • If it’s raining take a trash bag, cut a whole for your head, and wear it while you wait at the starting line. DO NOT RUN with the trash bag on for any distance; use it to keep yourself dry at the start. More than likely, you’ll be standing in the starting corral for a long period of time before the race with little shelter.
  • If you have friends/family on the course, give them a dry shirt or socks that you can swap at 16 or 20 miles to get a nice fresh feeling and to get rid of any soggy clothing or shoes that are holding you back.
  • If it’s a very cold rain, using Vaseline on exposed body portions will help keep you warm. Vaseline is waterproof, which will help keep your hands and lower legs from getting too cold. One caution, Vaseline does not allow your body to sweat efficiently, so don’t put in on your head and neck. You want excess heat (yes, there will be some even in such cold temperatures) to dissipate as needed.


  • If it’s cold, find that ratty sweatshirt/pair of gloves/hat/sweatpants your spouse has been nagging you to throw out for years. If you don’t have any clothing items ready to be ditched, head to Wal-Mart or a cheap clothing store and buy some warm weather clothes you could run in for a mile or two. You can wear these warm items in the corral when you’re standing in the cold and have nowhere to move to stay warm. Once you get running past the first mile or two, your body will begin to warm up and you can shed them. Most marathons pick up discarded clothing at the start and donate to charity.
  • Likewise, layers are key while actually running. Remember, you’re bound to heat up as the race progresses, so having layers that are easy to remove will allow you to stay cool.


  • Heat is one of the most difficult elements to run a marathon in (here’s some research on how hot weather running affects running performance), so it’s important that you prepare as best you can. Drink more fluids and electrolytes leading up to race morning. If you have a chance, make a slushy (freeze some Gatorade the night before the race) and bring it with you to the start. Recent researchers have proved that drinking something cold, like a slushy, 10 minutes before a race helped keep core body temperatures cooler and enabled runners to compete for 20% longer than with just a cool beverage.
  • Furthermore, adjust your race pace the first few miles to ensure you have enough energy to finish strong. You can see how heat will affect your running time and pace with my temperature calculator.
  • Read this article on running a marathon in the heat, which is an extensive post we wrote to help our athletes prepare for the 90 degree temperatures at the 2012 Boston Marathon.

Running a marathon is difficult under any conditions. By preparing ahead of time and implementing an innovative strategy, you can avoid any factors that will affect your race.

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One Response on “Running Marathon in Bad Weather

  1. Pingback: How to Run in Inclement Weather | Runner's Goal

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