I’ve been there too, you know how tough it can be to run against the wind. Having the wind at your back feels great, but running into the wind can feel tough and frustrating. As a fellow runner, I understand exactly how hard it can be to run into the wind.
I live on the edge of a national park (The Peak District) and often find a we get a strong south eastern wind, which always seems to be a headwind as I run home from work!
If you want to be spared the frustration of feeling like the wind is fighting against you as you run, I have compiled this list of tips from my experience of running that will help you figure out how to run in the wind successfully.
If you’re new to running then windy running conditions may be off-putting, but they don’t have to be.
How Much Does Wind Affect Running Speed?
These are estimates, but this is the average reduction in speed for running times with these speeds of wind.
|Wind Speed||Effect on running|
|5 mph wind||0-15 seconds slower per mile|
|10 mph wind||20-30 seconds slower per mile|
|20 mph wind||50-60 or more seconds slower per mile|
|25 mph wind||More than a minute slower per mile|
These numbers might vary related to your own unique level of running fitness and experience, but you can see that a strong breeze can actually slow you down as you run into it. This information is only going to be truly relevant if you are racing or competing and running into the wind, but it does make it clear that very strong winds can be demonstrably tougher to run into, even if you are fit.
How Do You Run in Windy Conditions?
Running in the wind is not actually that much more difficult unless you are running into a very strong wind, but it can affect your breathing and it can make you feel as though you have to go faster or lean forward in order to make headway. The wind is often considered the least favorable running condition, but there are some easy ways to make running in the wind less unpleasant.
To help inspire these ideas, I ran a short poll on a popular running Facebook group, asking for tips on how to run in the wind. This research wasn’t scienctific, and a few responses certainly shows the running community has a sense of humour! Of the 56 people who responded, I grouped their answers into the the very unscientifc catergories below:
|Suggestion||% of answers|
|Turnaround / back to the wind||48%|
|See it as a challenge / be strong||25%|
|Wear tight clothing / hat / long sleeves||13%|
|Run in areas of cover, e.g. trees or buildings||8%|
|Other (joke answers mostly!)||6%|
So with this feedback in mind, lets jump into my actual suggestions for how to run in the wind:
1. Accept the Wind
Running into the wind with an attitude like you are fighting with it will just wear you out. It is common to take longer steps, lean forward, or press your shoulders forward in response to the wind. Unless the wind is very strong, it is not actually going to significantly impact your ability to make forward progress.
If you relax and accept that it is windy without breaking your form or struggling against the breeze, you will have a much nicer running experience. I remind myself to hold my head up and relax my shoulders as the first step in fighting with the wind is often to push your head down and to lean forward against the wind. If you make sure to maintain your running posture, you will have a much more enjoyable run into the wind.
2. Use Positive Thoughts
Some runners use positive thinking to help them turn around their feelings about running into the wind. They will focus on the way that the sweat is not running down their face due to the wind, or the cooling aspect of the breeze in their face as they run.
Changing your mental outlook about the way that the wind is changing your running experience can make a big difference when you have to run in the wind. Being able to enjoy running into a stiff breeze might take some mental effort, but you are more than capable of turning the wind into a positive that makes you have the best run of your week.
3. Maintain Posture
Running into the wind in a defensive posture can actually lead to injuries and fatigue. No matter what the weather, you should never look down at your feet, hunch your shoulders, or lean forward as you run. These posture changes can cause your foot strikes to lead to shin splints or you might experience back and neck pain after your run related to your incorrect posture.
No matter what distraction is making you change your posture, you can cause yourself harm if you do so consistently. You will need to stay vigilant as you run to make sure that you are not bowing down into the wind instinctively.
Resist the urge to lean into the wind, hunch your shoulders up to your ears, or huge your arms to your side if you are running into the wind. Allow the wind to be a part of your running experience that does not cause you to break your form and open yourself up for potential injury.
4. Plan Your Route
If you know that you have to run into the wind, don’t leave the part of your run where you will be fighting with the wind until the end of your route. Consider reversing your run path or avoiding areas that will be very windy if you are going to be fatigued when you reach this part of the route.
Running into the wind when you are fatigued can make it harder to regulate your breathing and you might feel mentally fatigued by the pressure of the wind if you are already exhausted when you encounter this weather change. Being strategic in your training runs can help you to produce better results and have more fun when you are running.
5. Wear Tight Running Clothes
One of the tips from my research on the Facebook group. This is a good tip for any kind of run that you have planned, but this is particularly helpful when you are going to be running into the wind. Tight-fitting clothes will not flap and drag at your arms and legs. It is always less distracting to have tightly-fitted clothes on when you run so that you are not having to adjust and fix your clothes and break up your running cadence as you do so.
If you know it is going to be windy out when you are heading out to run, wear your least baggy clothes so that you will not feel annoyed or distracted by your clothing billowing in the wind as you move.
The wind can actually make you more dehydrated, particularly if you are running into a very stiff breeze. Always make sure to bring enough water with you to help keep your throat from getting dry and to make sure that you do not get dehydrated by the wind and start getting cramps.
Hydration is key if you are a distance runner, but it never hurts to be prepared for the challenges of hydration in windy weather on a short run as well. Wind can make you have a cottonmouth and it can make your skin feel sticky and dried out, but hydrating properly will help keep you from feeling icky when you are running on a windy day.
7. Run With Friends
Sometimes the best way to keep your mind on track when you are running is to head out with a group of running buddies. This will keep you motivated to stay at the right pace and cadence as well as providing a distraction from the weather.
Chatting as you run and following the group will keep your mind off the wind and you will not even notice that the wind is affecting your gait or your time for the day. Running with companions can help with any kind of training need, and pushing against the wind is no different.
8. Adjust Your Planned Run Times
If the wind is strong enough, it can affect your overall run times. You will be wise to accept this and plan for your daily run to be slightly slower than usual. You should not force yourself to push against a strong wind just to get your normal daily time for your route.
Running too hard into the wind can lead to injury as well as a feeling of uncomfortable breathlessness. There is no need to pressure yourself to fight against the wind just to stay at a set running pace. Adjust your expectations and you will not feel so uncomfortable as you run into the wind on your normal running route.
9. Avoid Stormy Conditions
Always remember that a breeze is one thing, but a real storm is quite another. If the weather conditions call for lightning and thunder of winds that are not safe for running in, you should heed the weather predictions and head to the gym for your run.
There is no sense in training in weather that might cause injury or might be unsafe for outdoor activities. It is one thing to be prepared for anything when you are running and completely another to endanger your health and safety just to prove to yourself that you can run in any kind of windy weather.
Running in the Wind Doesn’t Have to be Tough
If you are like me, you know that running into the wind is mostly about adjusting your mental attitude before you head out for your workout. This can be the toughest part of planning your daily running routine on a windy day, but remember that your windy day run is just one of many workouts that you will make time for in your lifetime.
Freeing yourself from being obsessed with the timing of your run, or pacing of your run can make a big difference in your overall feeling about your windy day run. I always remind myself to think about windy day runs as part of a different training plan entirely that is based on endurance and mental fortitude more than speed or other metrics.Using these tips and tricks for how to run in the wind, you will learn to enjoy running in windy conditions and you will become a well-rounded running athlete.