Why is running in the wind so tiring? It’s really a basic concept of resistance. The wind pushes against you. As a result, you expend additional energy to perform the same running workout as you normally would on a low or minimal windy day.
I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the wind is a frequent occurrence on runs during the fall and winter months. I love running outside throughout the year. The wind is just something you have to deal with if you’re not a treadmill person like me.
I’m guessing, no matter where you live, you encounter wind during your runs at times in the year.
If you’re racing or doing your fitness run in the fall and winter months, don’t let the wind confine you to a treadmill or ruin your race day. Regardless of whether you are training for a race or enjoy running outside, use these 11 tips for running in the wind to have a safe, enjoyable, and successful run.
1. Accept the Challenge
A strong headwind can wear you down mentally as well as physically. Understand the running challenge you are about to undertake.
Accepting the run challenge allows you to keep your mind from getting overwhelmed by the conditions as the miles progress.
If you are racing, remember everyone is facing the same conditions. This is something you may have to often remind yourself about.
Mentally, break the race down into small, manageable portions. These become your milestones and will you allow to appreciate several accomplishments during your run.
2. Plan Ahead
Plan a running route, so you mentally and physically prepare for your run.
If you are participating in a race, this will involve looking at a map of the course to understand they lay of the land.
Is it a straight line course? Is it in a wide open unprotected area where the wind will be a significant factor? Is it a winding course, where the wind may not be as big a factor as you fear?
Planning ahead can help calm run day anxiety you may have.
3. Close Fitting Clothes
Tips for running in the wind should always consider running clothes. Wearing loose-fitting clothes can be annoying. Wear tight-fitting running clothing that doesn’t blow around in the wind. This could include a slim-cut running jacket, technical training shirts, or compression tops.
4. Remember to Keep Hydrated
It’s too easy to forget how important hydration is when running in the wind so remember to hydrate.
Regardless of the temperature, hydration during your run needs to be part of your running checklist.
Everyone realizes you will expend additional energy running into a headwind. However, it is easy to understand how easy it is to overheat on the return run back with no breeze hitting your face.
Again, hydrate, hydrate.
5. Relax Your Body
A common instinct in the wind is to tense up. Tension not only fatigue your muscles quicker, but also burn more energy, and allow fatigue to set in earlier.
Relax your muscles!
You have already planned on running in the wind. Relax your shoulders, straighten your posture, thus releasing tension.
It is always a good practice frequently stretch out your fingers, to reduce the chance of running with clinched fists.
6. Focus on Effort, Not Pace
As previously discussed, wind can cause you to expend more energy both mentally and physically.
If you have been preparing for a race, tracking your mile splits, and suddenly presented with a windy race day, you are confronted with a significant hurdle.
If you have been training for a period of time, you probably know your body well enough to realize the type of effort you are giving.
Instead of pushing yourself too hard to hit a precise pace or time in the beginning, focus more on your effort.
Determining your effort is easier with a heart rate monitor, but even if you don’t use one, start out a few seconds per mile slower.
You will be able to finish your workout strong as opposed to having a run cut short.
7. Lean into the wind
Leaning into a headwind can help reduce some of the resistance. Keep your shoulders relaxed and don’t tense up.
8. Go out and come back
Start the first half of your run going into the wind. This will provide more resistance when you are at your strongest. During the second half when you are more fatigued you can use the wind to assist you going forward instead of fighting against it!
9. Protect your eyes
Tips for running in the wind should always cover eye protection.
High winds can cause all kinds of problems for your eyes with debris blowing about.
This will cause irritations of the eyes as well as dry them out.
When running in the wind during the day, wear sunglasses.
During the late afternoon or at night, choose clear lens glasses. Many sports sunglasses are available with interchangeable lenses to provide a variety of environmental conditions.
10. Think twice about your route choice
Many runners have a course they run for the majority of their fitness runs. Have alternative routes for times when environmental conditions make your normal running routes is not the best choice.
11. Adjust your expectations
The most important tips for running in the wind to get through a windy run is to adjust your expectations. It is what it is. Accept the windy conditions and adjust your workout accordingly. Running into a headwind will affect your face. Focus your energy on maintaining the proper effort and go with the pace you are comfortable with.