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Running in the Rain: Tips from Krissy & PD

As autumn starts to work its way into our weather forecasts, these tips from as seasoned of a running duo as ambassadors Krissy & PD have us eager to lace up and get out with our ever-eager canine sidekicks – rain or shine.

Take us through a day of what it looks like to get out for a run with PD. From the pep talk, to gear, to state of mind out in the weather, to finishing up.

The fluffy pup that is PD has unreal sponge-like properties to her fur and feet. Her magnetic attraction to puddles and slow-moving bodies of water only exacerbate the full soak and cling effect. Running in the rain (and therefore mud) here in the PNW is an acceptance of a massive clean-up effort before hopping back in our little van home.

Krissy holds PD up to show how wet and muddy she gets on the trail

This may surprise some, but PD is not the dog bouncing or barking at my heels to get out the door when I pick up her harness or leash. She’ll always go, but more at my insistence than hers. Once out there, she takes her time warming up. There are many sniffs and things to pee on in the early miles that slow down our pace or find me waiting at trail junctions (if we can be off-leash) for her to catch up.

If we are running with her buddy Bija and my buddy Monica, the excitement, barks, games of chase, and chatter of humans usually create a much more energetic start.

Deciding to go for a run first starts with where and how to park the van, thinking ahead to the post-run clean up plan. Then, check the weather and temperature, figure out gear and what each of us will need, from shoes to jackets to treats and water bottles/bowls.

If the miles are particularly long, I cheer PD along, and in telling her she’s doing awesome, my own pace picks up. We share Trail Butter, and she’ll drink from my hydration hose when I forget to bring our Trail Runner™ Bowl. And, inevitably, I end up taking photos or videos of her doing her “belly soak” in one of the many water opportunities along the way.

PD the dog jumps on Krissy, excited to runBack at the van and after her clean up (explained below), her ability to flip to recovery mode is incredible... if not a bit dramatic. While I sort our gear back into the van on various hooks to (hopefully) dry out as we drive, she collapses into full-rest mode. No pacing around or wanting to play fetch – girl is out, sprawled across the seat or her bed, appearing to be fully asleep… until the recovery treats come out.

What do you think about the new design of the Sun Shower™ Rain Jacket?

It doesn’t really matter what I think, PD turns into a dancing trail princess/monster (see photos of her barking and biting at my hands) with this brightly colored rain shell special for her, I’m pretty sure she loves it.

Krissy trail running with her dog PD that's wearing a pink Sun Shower Dog Rain Jacket

I appreciate the coverage of her fluffy fur to provide a barrier to the muck that comes with spending many miles in the wet. The bright color makes it easier to spot her mostly black body on the low lit days that make our forests dark and dreary.

When we get back to the van, taking off her coat and giving it a good flick and rinse from the spray hose, followed by dressing her in the Dirtbag™ Dog Towel, keeps our small space safe from the inevitable full-body-dog-swivel-shake of splatters.

You and PD were also part of a photoshoot for the Dirtbag™ Dog Towel. What did you think of it?

I LOVED the Dirtbag Dog Towel and would love to have one for vanlife… one for her and one (a little bigger) for me! ;) PD gets cleaned first and then wrapped up in the passenger seat while I repeat the process for myself.

Krissy dries PD with the Dirtbag Dog Towel before heading back into their van

What tips and tricks do you have for both humans and dogs who want to run in the rain?

A lot of it boils down to mindset. It is a good balance and life check to feel something other than extreme comfort. Running in the rain usually makes me appreciate curling up in the van and indulging in hot chocolate when my hair is still dripping from the miles spent failing to dodge rain drops.

The way PD throws herself around on the rug and towels to dry off is so playful, I have to believe she is also reveling in how good the contrast feels. While out there, it really can be a lot of fun if you layer correctly to stay warm and find fun in the moment.

I love seeing PD speed up to power through a wet muddy section (vs how I sometimes slow down and try to tip-toe through) so I’ll follow her lead and start laughing as her splatters hit my quads – my friends call this tail-gating.

What other questions do you get asked about running in the rain?

When I lived in Boulder, CO I remember friends asking for hall passes or waiting out a few clouds knowing that within the hour we would likely have ideal conditions. I remember thinking then (and even more now that I live back in Bellingham, WA): if I wait for the perfect weather window, I’ll likely never run.

Krissy and PD run in a dense, green forest on a rainy day

Here are some questions I get:

Q: How do you stay dry in the rain?

A: You don’t. The goal is to stay warm even as your layers get wet from the rain and your sweat.

A clothing system is key. For myself, I think sports bra, baselayer, insulation, jacket/shell, gloves/mittens, brimmed hat and beanie, all in a variety of weights and blends of fabric choices for each depending on the variety of conditions.

It can take some practice with Goldilocks precision to figure out the right combination for the variety of conditions you may face. The difference between low 30s and snowing and low 40s and raining is a completely different kit.

Q: What do you wear in the rain?

A: On a recent 35-mile run in the Tetons, it was low 40s °F with rain forecasted all day. We started in a thin wool baselayer and a waterproof jacket. Wool is an incredible natural fiber that provides warmth even when it is wet.

We wore dishwashing gloves for the ultimate in waterproof for our hands with a liner glove underneath when temps dropped. I wore running shorts and tall compression socks with a pair of waterproof/breathable pants over the top. Brimmed trucker hats kept the rain off our faces.

With a steady running pace, we generated enough heat and had enough wind protection to keep a (mostly) comfortable body temperature, not overheating and not shivering.

When we stopped to check the map or take a picture (the few times the clouds were high enough) and the wind picked up, that body heat would be whisked away and we’d have to get moving again.

Had we needed to stop longer, we would have added an insulation midlayer over the wool and under the jacket. Since we were in the backcountry, we carried an emergency bivy, extra food and layers, and trekking poles – crucial when the clay mud sticking to our shoes made forward progress on just two feet impossible.

Krissy and her dog PD pause in the trail for a break.

How do you stay motivated to run when it’s raining?

Getting out the door is the toughest. I can’t think of a tougher running moment than trying to tie my shoes when the rain drops are pinging the roof of my van. PD looks up at me from the tight ball she’s curled herself into with an expression that I read as a “really Mom? We are doing this now?”

But, with the right gear, treats and just making those first couple of steps happen, 98% of the time I’m thankful I went rather than wait. Trusting that the after-feeling will be better is enough motivation for me to at least pull my laces, clip her leash and slide open the door.

You can learn more about Krissy's and PD's life on the road and on the trails here, and follow along on their Instagram @krissymoehl.