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Tips for running in wind

the-art-of-running-in-the-wind

Oh, the wind.

Its direction can be the difference between a PR and the worst race ever. Its intensity can be the difference between ending a run feeling like you’re on top of the world or feeling completely spent.

The wind is this runner’s least favorite weather condition. To me, there’s nothing worse than running into a headwind, especially on a cold day. Still, running in the wind is a necessary evil so I try to make the most of it.

These tips can help you run better on windy days:

  • See it as a positive. According to experts, regularly running into a headwind is a good thing. The wind makes you work harder and use more energy to move forward. This is called “resistance running” and it helps to boost your stamina and speed. When you run again without the wind, you’ll be speedier. Try to start one training run each week into a headwind.
  • Lean into it. Leaning into a headwind can help deflect some of the resistance. Be mindful to relax your shoulders, though. It’s common for runners to tense their shoulders when they’re uncomfortable, but doing so can lead to neck and upper back pain.
  • Plan wisely. If you’re running an out-and-back on an extra breezy day, do the first half of the run into a headwind and the second half with the wind at your back. You’ll learn how to run on fatigued legs, likely negative split, and end the run happier than when you started.
  • Don’t fight it. Like the heat, the wind will slow you down. When wind speeds are over 20mph, it can sap up to 20 percent of your energy. Once you accept you’ll be slow, you’ll feel better about running in a headwind or cross-winds. If you have a tempo or interval run planned, look at your schedule and see if you can swap workouts. Doing speedwork in the wind will only cause frustration.
  • Stay inside. On extremely windy days, with steady winds 25+ mph and gusts even higher, it’s just not worth it for me to run outdoors. Plus, it’s not always safe either – whenever I see branches falling, I take it as a sign to stay inside. I either hit the treadmill or I flip around my training schedule and take a rest day.
  • Wear sunglasses. On windy days, dust blows around and may cause your eyes to sting or water. Wearing sunglasses will protect your eyes from debris. 
  • Pay attention to the temperature:
    • In the cold: Respect the wind on cold days and dress for the wind chill factor, not the actual temperature. Wear layers, so you’ll be comfortable no matter which way the wind blows. Start each run against the wind and head back with the wind, so you don’t get chilled.
    • In the heat: Reverse your route. Head out with the wind on your back, and run into a headwind on the way home. This will help cool you off.

How do you make the most of breezy runs? One more word of advice: don’t wear your favorite running cap on a very windy day. Trust me on this one!

Written by Jen Matz