There is one thing to running errands in the rain. Or even taking a walk and being prepared for it to rain. But it is a rare thing for me to (purposefully) go out to run in the rain. I mean, what about my hair?
My mother and I were making our way down a mountain after a long hike when it started to rain. This mountain was full - and I mean FULL - of folks, many of us people of color. Most of the hikers were incredibly sweaty. It was summertime in Georgia. Sistahs were wearing braids - cornrows, micros, box braids, boxer braids, etc. There were high buns. There were low buns. There were loose curls pulled on top of our heads - pineapples. I myself was wearing my natural hair in a messy bun paired with a sweatband.
For protective hair ideas (or pictures), check out this "7 Best Protective Hairstyles that actually Protect Natural Hair for Black Women" on betterlength.com and this Essence article, "9 Hairstyles for The Gym and Women With Natural Hair."
My mom had her natural hair straightened and down. She wears it around earlobe length. She tends to wash and re-straighten her hair at least once or twice a week due to a heavy fitness schedule.
Anyways, we were carefully making our way down a very steep and rocky mountain, but as soon as we felt a sprinkle, we started picking up our pace as did most of the sistahs around us. I mean, folks were running down that mountain - it almost felt like we were skiing. A few women even slipped on rocks trying to get to cover. I have never seen so many potential injuries! But the interesting thing is that as "we" hurried to the car, "other" folks (none of them looked identifiably black or brown) were keeping their previous pace while some even kept trekking upward.
I shouldn't be surprised that there were hikers still upward and beyond because there are tons of benefits to being active in the rain:
1. You get all the health and mental benefits of being outdoors.
2. Rain keeps you cool. Avoiding heat exhaustion can prolong your run.
3. You will run faster. Studies show that a light spritz of water can increase performance in runners.
4. Builds muscle - Just being careful when you run pushes you to activate muscles that you normally wouldn't.
5. Keeps you present and helps with mental grit - Nothing forces you to focus like slick pavement and water puddles. Additionally, nothing proves grit like doing what others won't do.
But even with these benefits, I couldn't help but think - what about my hair?
Let's GO get these benefits
Now, in full transparency, I usually do my most extensive workouts where my hair will get wet close to wash days. I time my hair moves, but as research for this article I needed to hit the outdoors and take a run while it rained. To set the stage, it was the beginning of Autumn and I was wearing my natural hair straight. I had post-run plans (turnaround time was 20-30 min max, not much time at all). It was a relatively colder (60 degrees) rainy day.
Here is what I did:
1. Put my hair on the top of my head, tightly secured.
2. Wrapped it in a bun.
3. Put a sweatband on my edges, similar to this one from Sally Beauty.
4. Wore a water-resistant run jacket with my hood up
I went outside to jog. The warm-up walk was super uncomfortable. I felt like I was in a weird Hallmark romance, or I was the stalker in a TV One show. It pushed against my cultural sense to go outside while it rained (without an errand to run) even if there are benefits of a rainy run.
But once I started to jog, it wasn't bad... at all. It didn't feel much different than a typical run.
But what about my hair?
Post-run, my edges were still "straightish." My bun was reasonably damp so it needed to stay in the bun for my gig. My roots were standard - thick and puffy. If I had the time, I would have kept the sweatband on until my hair dried entirely or used a blow dryer to dry it while it was in the sweatband. But I didn't have the time, so I had to pull it back and throw it up with a thin headband.
Ultimately, I definitely could not have worn my hair down right after the run. The issue wasn't only the rain, but it was also sweating my hair out. My rain jacket wasn't enough to protect my bun and while my sweatband was awesome for my edges, it wasn't enough to keep my roots from expanding.
For post-rain hairdos, check out this article in Essence Magazine, "15 Cute Rainy Day Hairstyle Ideas."
At the end of the day, when it's chilly I still prefer a hot drink and book indoors when it rains. I don't mind running errands with an umbrella, duck shoes and a rain jacket, but taking a solo run with straight hair isn't my thing.
Given the benefits of a rain-filled jog though, I wouldn't skip a summer run with a friend or a running event. I would just be prepared for the run to be the activity for the morning. That said, with the right preparations and post-run techniques, I am not going to count out a rainy run.
Trekk on, Friends (even in the rain)!
Edited by Ashley Yancey