Running in the wind: 10 tips to make it easier
Running in the wind can be unpleasant – here’s ten tips to make it a little easier.
It takes a lot to get a runner to skip their workout, especially if you are following a training plan that is leading up to a big race. Rain, snow, thunder, and lightning are all reasons to cancel runs or at least shorten your planned mileage for the day.
Running in the wind is a different story. Windy days are unavoidable, but unless the wind is hitting so hard that it feels dangerous, you can still salvage your plan.
There are ways you can approach a windy run that can make it easier, turning that gusty day into an advantage.
So, the next time you’re faced with a windy day, implement a few of these tips for running in the wind, and we’ll help you get through it:
10 tips for running in the wind
These ten tips will help you prepare you for the wind, alongside giving you a few strategies to use during your run.
For example, your form, as well as your mindset can work either for or against you when running in the wind. So, follow these tips to help you adjust both in the right direction.
1. Focus on effort when running in the wind
Instead of worrying about pace, focus on other data points such as your heart rate and cadence.
These metrics give a much better view of your overall effort while running. On a windy day, training to a target heart rate can feel a lot better than the frustration you’ll feel about not running at the pace you’re used to.
Focusing on effort can also lead to other training benefits. For example, wind can be a natural form of resistance that you add to your workout. Think of it as an opportunity to help make you stronger.
2. Plan your route
Running in the wind can be an opportunity! If you position your route to run against the wind on the way out, and with the wind on your way home, you’ll end up building yourself a rewarding negative split by the end of it.
While it may be difficult to plan to that level of detail, at least ensure that you have a mix of terrain that will not result in you running headfirst into the wind the entire time.
If you live in a big city, it can be easy to plan a route that will keep you shielded from the wind by staying close to areas with big buildings.
But watch out – some of those skyscrapers can act as shields against the wind for a time, but when you round their corners, you could be hit with quite the gale.
3. Concentrate on your running form
Your technique can easily be sacrificed when running in the wind. You may find yourself hunched over, battling to keep yourself upright. This can cause you to bend yourself into positions that can hurt your running form.
Remember: Don’t focus on maintaining an exact pace when the wind picks up. If it’s an especially windy day, you should focus on effort over pace. This means that you should apply the same rigour to keeping your form clean as you would on a mild day.
4. Don’t fight the wind!
There’s no point getting mad at it. The wind is going to keep coming at you – a little bit like Balboa in Rocky 4.
The best way to conserve your energy is to stop fighting. Our bodies naturally react to high winds by tensing up and bracing ourselves against the pressure.
If you let go of the urge to fight, loosen up your neck and shoulders, and just lean into it, you’ll find that a lot of the tension was all in your head.
Your running form will improve, you’ll be more relaxed, and you won’t waste as much energy.
5. Wear the right clothes when running in the wind
Remember: there is no such thing as bad running weather, just bad running gear. If you know it’s going to be a windy day, avoid loose-fitting garments. Unless you want to flap around like a parachute, you’ll be much better off in tighter fitting gear.
This includes your headgear as well. Nothing can ruin a run more than losing your favourite hat!
When buying running gear, be careful of outer layers that are advertised as windbreakers. These work great in low temperatures, but if you are running on a warm or mild day, the plastic-like material can trap your body heat like a garbage bag.
If it’s a cool day, running tights are recommended over any form of looser tracksuit bottoms. You need to select clothing that will stay put and not create any additional drag as you run into the wind.
Sunglasses or other forms of eye protection are also advisable. High winds could mean dust or other debris flying at you, so it is best to be prepared.
p.s. you’ll also look pretty cool, so it’s a win, win.
6. Run with a group when the wind picks up
Drafting isn’t just for the elites! If you can run with others, then take turns in the lead position and block the wind for each other.
This technique can be hard to get used to, so don’t let yourself get frustrated the first time you try it out.
Don’t follow directly behind someone. Stay back and a little to the side of your wind-blocking friend.
Running with a group is often a good idea regardless of the weather. In addition to drafting and blocking the wind for each other, it’s always smart to travel in numbers whenever you’re dealing with potentially dangerous weather.
It also doesn’t hurt to share your tougher runs with your friends, as the stories of just how windy it was will always be funnier together.
7. Adjust your mindset
Digging deep is something runners do well. Sure, we love it when the weather conditions are perfect for a run, but how often does that actually happen?
Whether we have to push through some muscle soreness or lace-up after a long day when we’d rather stay on the sofa, we all know that finding the strength to keep going always brings better results.
Battling the elements makes you a stronger runner, both physically and mentally.
If you push through a hard, windy run, you’ll be that much stronger the next time you have a calm and cool day to enjoy.
Keeping those gains in mind is a great way to change your mindset and have the wind work in your favour.
Maintaining a positive attitude in tough conditions is the best way to meet those conditions.
There’s no need to feel overwhelmed because of the weather. The weather is what it is. You get to decide how you want to approach it.
8. Enjoy it!
Just because you’re running in the wind doesn’t mean the run has to be miserable! You can still do things that you’d normally do when you want to add a little something special to your run.
Try a new scenic route or try asking a friend to join you that you don’t run with often. Little things like that can make a run more enjoyable when you use them to counteract some tougher weather.
One simple technique for enjoying a run is just to tell yourself to enjoy it. Giving yourself a little pep talk before you start, in which you remind yourself that you run because you love it, can make all the difference. As silly as it may sound.
9. Drink plenty of water
Stay hydrated; that’s the number one rule for runners. If it’s hot and windy, you will sweat more than you realise. So be sure to drink enough water before your run.
Also, be sure to have a plan for maintaining hydration during your run if you’re going for more than an hour.
Hydration is critical on windy days. If your route has water fountains available, you’re lucky. If it doesn’t, consider travelling with a hydration pack for those longer runs.
Or at least plan a route that doesn’t leave too much distance from your front door so that you can step in and take a drink if needed. The same applies to running in the heat!
10. Stay safe
Nothing is more important than your safety.
While all of the above tips can be used under windy conditions, please be sure to follow the weather and keep yourself out of danger.
If trees are coming down, and if weather advisories are being issued, then maybe just stay inside and hit the treadmill!
A nice breeze can feel delightful on a long run, but if you are running through anything that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, you must find a way to take cover.
Many runners take pride in their ability to power through their runs, no matter the conditions. But getting injured because you wanted to power through won’t make you feel proud the next day.
We hope you’re blown away by our advice!
Running in the wind doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Follow these strategies to help you make the most out of your windy run.
At the same time, you can turn a windy day into an advantage. Adding a new form of resistance to your run will only make you stronger. Just remember to gear up correctly, listen to your body, and enjoy yourself!
Matthew is an avid runner, freelance writer, Durham University graduate, and the founder of Running101.