Wet Trails Running

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Yes, sometimes it rains.  Or in the case of the San Francisco bay area, sometimes it’s not raining.  Wet terrain, whether it be on the road or on trails can be a bit trickier to navigate than dry surfaces.  The ground requires good footwork and problem solving skills to navigate obstacles.

Various states of “wet”

  • Slick - mucky, slippery but, no water on the surface

  • Muddy - pockets of water alongside pockets of muck

  • Super wet - water flowing down the trail without any no dry surface

  • A Creek! - anything higher than knee height


The goal is to move through the terrain without breaking stride, as much as that’s possible.  The mud will slow even the fastest kid out there, but, we want to try and maintain consistency in our movement.

So, how do you maneuver through this crap without biting it?

Rule #1 - Don’t picture yourself slipping and falling down.  In all seriousness, if that image pops up in your head, your brain will try to re-enact it.  This is the same concept as positive visualization. If you imagine it, you’re more likely to make it happen. So, don’t worry about it.

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Rule #2 - If the terrain is muddy or super wet, run right through the middle of it. Don’t go around the streams.  The sides of the trail will be slicker than what’s under the center of the water. For deep stuff, you’ll probably have to slow just a bit in order to pick your feet up higher than normal. And, for super deep creeks or streams, you may need to tune into the bottom to be sure your feet are going to land on a rock or branch or ground surface that is safe to step and push off from.  

Rule #3 - For slick terrain, the kind you feel like you’re ice skating on, try to find the side of the trail that has some sticks/trees/plants, anything other than much sticking out of it.  This will give your foot just a little bit of traction needed to push through. Even the best trail shoes won’t eliminate the slip, so, you may need to slow a bit. Use your arms to balance if you do slide and don’t worry! If you fall, it’s a free facial.  

Rule #4 - This is a gear rule.  If you know there’s a likelihood of getting wet, prep your feet.  Apply Bodyglide to your feet and between toes. Or, dump some 2Toms into your socks before the run.  (I use both). Drymaxx for socks - are by far, the best for wet terrain (all terrain, really). The socks are anti-blister, the material they are made of can get wet and not wreak havoc on your feet. I can run in wet Drymaxx socks for an entire race and not have feet problems.  They work!

Rule #5 - HAVE FUN with it.  We are trail runners. We like to get dirty, fall down. Slip and slide.  Have something to talk about! Practice running in wet conditions, do lots of agility drills, work on your foot placement and enhance your problem solving skills to get really good at moving through all terrain.