Feeling the wind in your hair is one of the greatest joys of running. But when that wind has a mind of its own and you’re fighting against it in order to get your run in… Well, that’s not quite so much fun.
Running in the wind is surprisingly difficult. But while it does make your run that much harder, it also has some benefits.
Here are our tips for running in the wind, based on years of experience! Check out these tips and the next time you wake up to an extra windy day, take it as a challenge rather than a disappointment!
Why Is Running In the Wind So Difficult?
Wind acts as resistance. Running against the wind is like swimming against an invisible current. It takes that much more effort to run at your normal pace.
When you run against the wind, you’re naturally expending more energy. Your muscles and cardiovascular system work harder to push you ahead into the wind.
Imagine running in water or running while you’re strapped to a heavy object. This is the same kind of thing as running against the wind—you’re pushing against a force, and you need to go harder than usual to move forward.
Will Running in the Wind Affect Your Pace?
Running headfirst into the wind will affect your pace. If you do manage to stick to your regular pace, you’ll have to work a lot harder to maintain it.
How much your pace drops per mile will most likely depend on the wind.
Here’s a quick overview of each wind speed’s effects on your mile pace.
- 5 mph: 0 to 15 seconds slower
- 10 mph: 20 to 30 seconds slower
- 15 mph: 30 to 45 seconds slower
- 20 mph: 45 to 60 seconds slower
- 25 mph: 60+ seconds slower
Are There Benefits to Running in the Wind?
While running in the wind is difficult, if you think about it correctly, you can use windy days as an excellent training session.
You just need to think about it like a run with a strength component. Kind of like a hill workout. The extra resistance will ultimately make you a stronger and faster runner. Here’s why.
Increased Muscular Activation
With the added resistance of the wind, your muscles get more activation. They have to work harder to run against the wind, which means you may benefit from improved muscle strength and endurance.
More Calorie Burn
Added resistance means you end up using more energy during your run. And the more energy you expend, the more calories you burn. If you’re after weight loss, running into the wind will help you reach those goals quicker.
Builds Mental Toughness
As we’ve mentioned, running against the wind is hard. You’ll probably be tempted to skip it and wait for a calmer day. But if you can stick it out, you’ll build valuable mental toughness.
If you can train in the wind, you’ll be stronger if you come up against them in a race. Building mental resilience is difficult, so these are valuable opportunities.
If you can learn to push through training in different weather conditions, you’ll train your body to handle much more tricky situations. The next time you have a difficult race, you’ll be more prepared, thanks to your tough training.
Not only does your mental toughness improve, but your body also gains strength and endurance from this kind of training. You’ll be more physically and mentally adaptable for anything that happens in a race situation.
Boosts Running Form
Running into the wind requires a slight change of form. You’ll need to lean forward slightly, shorten your stride, and pull your shoulders down. If you can replicate this form when running in normal conditions, your running form will have improved.
When Shouldn’t You Run in the Wind?
Running in strong wind isn’t an issue; we recommend it for increased strength and endurance. But in some cases, it’s best to stay home.
Use your discretion, but you should stay indoors when:
- Winds rise above 30 mph.
- There’s severe weather along with the wind.
- Visibility is reduced.
- Your route includes difficult terrain.
- There are strong wind gusts.
- You have a health condition.
Tips for Running in the Wind
Ready to conquer the wind on your next run? Here are our best tips for running in the wind and using it as a serious training session.
1. Wear the Right Clothing
Choose tight-fitting apparel on windy days. It will prevent annoying flapping and, more importantly, keep you streamlined! Tighter clothing reduces drag, ultimately saving you energy and improving your performance.
Remember to keep the wind chill factor in mind if it’s a cold fall or winter day. It will make the temperature feel that much colder, so dress appropriately.
Consider wind-proof apparel. A windproof jacket is usually enough, worn over a base layer (or a second layer if it’s really cold).
Runners with long hair should choose a tight bun or braid rather than a ponytail in windy conditions, as a ponytail will be blown around and could hurt an eye or be irritating.
Protect Your Eyes
The wind can do damage to your eyes. If you’re used to wearing a hat to shield your eyes from the sun, it may not be possible in windy weather so sunglasses are your only option.
It’ll also protect your eyes from debris being blown around in the wind, pollen, and the cutting effects of the wind on sensitive eyes.
2. Start Your Run by Going Into the Wind
If you head straight into the wind for the first half of your run, you can look forward to a tailwind on your way back. This means you can ease up a little on the way back, rather than having an easy first half and fighting the wind on your way back.
It also helps to keep you warmer for longer. Fighting hard against the wind when you’re already sweaty can chill you, but taking it a bit easier on your run back can stop that from happening.
3. Focus On Effort vs Pace
When you’re running into the wind, your pace will suffer. For this reason, it’s a good idea to focus more on your effort than your pace. Your perceived effort will be higher than usual, which means you’ll feel like you’re working much harder at a slower pace.
On windy days, focus more on stats like heart rate and cadence than your pace. Training in heart rate zones is a good idea during these kinds of days.
This not only provides you with an opportunity to focus on metrics that you don’t usually, but it also takes a bit of pressure off if you’re used to focusing hard on pace.
4. Keep Your Body Relaxed
It can be easy to tense your body up as you fight against the wind. This can cause your form to fall apart, and extra tension makes you more susceptible to injury. Pay particular attention to your body and consciously relax.
Your neck, upper back, and shoulders are the most likely areas to tense up. You may also find yourself clenching your fists while running. Pay attention to these areas and ensure you’re actively relaxing them during your run.
5. Focus On Your Breathing
Breathe deeply. When the wind is blowing in your face, your breathing will likely become harder, making it harder to push through as your muscles are getting less oxygen.
Try to match your breathing to your footsteps. For example, inhaling across 3 foot steps and exhaling across 3 foot steps. You can discover what works for you by experimenting, but don’t neglect your breathing—it’s an essential part of performance.
6. Stay On Top of Your Hydration
Wind can speed up dehydration, and so can your extra effort pushing against the wind. You’ll most likely need more water than usual, so if you notice the weather is windy, take extra water with you when you head out.
Make sure you’re drinking regularly. Set alarms or reminders to make sure you stay on top of your hydration. If you don’t want to carry extra water, you may want to adapt your route to run past a water fountain.
7. Focus On Maintaining Good Running Form
Many runners hunch forward to try and beat the wind, but this throws your form off and can increase your risk of injury. Pay close attention to your form and do your best to maintain good running form throughout your run.
- Maintain deep, regular breathing.
- Stand tall and lean forward slightly.
- Shorten your stride.
- Land midfoot or forefoot.
- Land with your front foot under your pelvis.
- Keep your elbows close to your side.
8. Be Prepared for Sudden Gusts of Wind
On certain windy days, there can be sudden, strong gusts. This could be from a storm, the weather that day, or things like buildings that may channel the wind.
If you know a possible gust is coming, then you can brace yourself and avoid being knocked off your feet.
9. Take Advantage of Natural Windbreaks
Windbreaks are objects along the landscape that get in the way of the wind, giving you a short break from the force. For example, a building, a row of trees, or a hill.
When you reach an area where the wind resistance seems to be reduced, take advantage of it and push yourself as running becomes easier. If you’re running for time, this is where you can make up some seconds you might have lost to the wind.
10. Practice Mindful Running
Mindful running is all about tuning into how your body feels as you’re running. Pay attention to how your muscles feel, how you’re moving, and your breathing. When running in the wind, you can also focus on how the wind feels against you as you run.
This will also help you to be mindful of your form, which can help you to get it right. It can be particularly helpful to pay close attention to your breathing, which can help by providing a constant supply of O2 to your muscles for performance.
Another way to be mindful is to be grateful for nature as you run. Notice the small things as you run, and be grateful you can run and experience the wind this way.
It may take some time to get used to running mindfully. But if you practice it often, it becomes easier every time until it becomes a habit.
11. If You Can, Run In the Slipstream
If you’re running in a group, you can take advantage of the slipstream by drafting. This means getting behind another runner so the wind hits them and misses you, allowing you to run freely without resistance.
During a group run, the key is swapping out with other runners in the group so everyone gets a chance to break from the wind. If you are racing, this is a smart tactic other runners might not consider.
Expect it to take a little time to get used to. Try to follow about a yard behind the runner in front of you and a little to the side, and you can expect a decrease of up to 80 percent in wind force.
12. Pack Your Running Belt Thoughtfully
Considering you will be expending more energy running against the wind, you may want to pack extra energy gels if you’re going for a long run. Even if your run is expected to be shorter, you may want to take some nutrition with you just in case.
Also, we highly recommend packing chapstick in your running belt to protect your lips against the effects of the wind.
13. Stay Safe
Use your discretion when running in the wind. Consider choosing a different route if your route takes you past heavy traffic. If it’s so windy, branches are dropping from trees or other things are being blown around outside, think about staying inside.
If you feel unsafe, give it a miss or opt for the treadmill or cross-training instead. Don’t use the wind as an excuse to stay home instead of exercising, but be careful and stay safe out there!