Why Is Running Against the Wind So Hard?
Running against the wind can make your lungs feel like they’re working overtime and can make your exhales feel like they’re pulling you backward. It can also make you feel like you’re running slower than you are.
Just like hills, running against the wind is hard because you have to put in more effort than usual. But just like running up the hills makes runners get better in their training, similar is the case with running against the wind. It makes a runner faster and stronger.
How Much Slower Do You Run in the Wind?
Running directly into the wind is equivalent to running uphill. The stronger the wind, the more you will be slowed by it. You have to work harder, and your pace slows down in a headwind.
As a rule of thumb, estimate that you’ll go between 10-30 seconds per mile slower depending on how fast you run and how windy it is. Running into a 3mph headwind and running at 8:30/mile, you will slow down to about 8:40/mile to 9:00/mile.
If you run into a 6mph headwind, you will slow down to about 9:30/mile or even more.
Do You Gain Speed Running With the Wind?
Running at high speeds sometimes requires a tailwind to keep you moving. If you run into a headwind, you’ll go slower and need to exert more effort. It’s little comfort to know that you’re not alone.
Mostly running speed is enhanced by a tailwind. You may look for gaining an extra 5 seconds or more running with a tailwind.
This means that if you do an out and back, your mile times will still average 5-25 seconds slower than usual, even accounting for the help that you get with a tailwind.
What are Some Tips for Running in the Wind?
If you struggle with running in the wind, you’re not alone. We all hate it, but let’s be honest, sometimes it’s inevitable.
If you’re tired of struggling against the wind or catching your breath as you run, you should try these tips.
After all, we’re talking about a skill that comes in handy whether you’re doing a 10K or a marathon.
Let’s take a look at some ways you can be ready for running in the wind.
Create a Positive Mindset
Training for a race requires you to train for the course and your goal time. And you can do that only with a positive mindset. Never expect your run to be a piece of cake. Think about why you started running in the first place and try to have a sense of gratitude. Even though it’s going to be tough, some people can’t run at all due to physical conditions, so it’s a huge gift to be able to run at all.
Even think of the wind as a means for a hard training run similar to a hill workout. Remind yourself that this is making you a stronger runner.
Concentrate on Intensity, Not Pace
If you run with your head facing forward, the wind seems to be pushing you back. So it’s easier to concentrate on running intensity and not distance.
If you focus on running pace, the wind may push back and make you feel like you’re not making any headway. Instead of constantly looking at your GPS watch, focus on the intensity.
Adapt Your Running Form
Racing against the wind can be hard for a beginner runner trying to maintain a consistent pace.
When running into the wind, there’s nothing more tiring or discouraging than constantly having to fight against a large physical force.
But if you learn to adapt your running form to handle windy conditions, you’ll be able to keep a consistent pace without having to work as hard.
Here are a few tips for achieving that:
Go a few steps faster
Running short quick steps will help you better regulate your speed or maintain a consistent pace without having to fight the wind all the time. You’ll still be able to maintain a good running form and achieve a good rest interval.
Ensure your form is not leaking energy
When racing against the wind, you don’t want to reduce your running cadence and arm swing.
The moment you do that, you’ll also be reducing the effective power you produce.
Don’t be afraid to really lean into it and fully extend all your limbs. This allows you to maintain a good running pattern and transfer as much energy as possible into the ground.
It’s best to tackle headwinds by staying warm and bundled up in good gears.
Headwinds can damage your hair because the wind is strong enough to dry out hair and strip it of natural oil. Invest in a headband or a full grip hat to protect your hair and won't get blown away.
Layer your clothing to help trap in body heat. Wear high-quality, tight-fitting clothing made of either nylon or spandex to create the warmth and compression necessary for body temperature regulation.
Invest in quality running shoes that suit your foot type. If your feet are prone to sweating, invest in a pair of quality running socks. Running in shoes made of synthetic materials will protect your feet from harsh cold and drying winds.
Wear a wind jacket while running against the wind. If you don’t have one, you might want to consider purchasing a windbreaker if the wind is common in your area.
Be Careful in Gusty Conditions
When the wind is blowing, be extra careful running next to busy roads. Unlike mufflers on cars, it is impossible to muffle the sound of the wind. So when you hear a car approaching from behind, stop on the shoulder of the road and get out of the way. Be cautious of falling branches or other debris too.
If you are heading into a headwind sprint, try to run at an angle to make the best use of the wind. For example, if your normal running pace is 8 minutes per mile, you can do it at 6 minutes per mile with a headwind, run at an angle in the direction of the wind for three-quarters of a mile, then turn 180 degrees and go back. This will be better coordination than running straight into the wind and then straight back out again.
Run an Out and Back
A great trick for training for a race and general running is to run an out and back route. At least that’s what I do. I’ll run my normal route back and forth, but I’ll do it on the opposite side of the road, so I’m running with the wind.
Start running against the wind. Then, when you reach your turnaround point, it will make the return leg significantly easier if you are with the wind.
Skip the Run or Take It Inside
Finally, if you’re tired or aren’t feeling like a run in bad weather, it’s okay to hit the gym and run on a treadmill instead. Or you could always take the day off. Whatever is going to work best for you.
Some of these running tips may seem simple, but just by following them, you will notice a big difference in your performance.
Remember to practice these running tips, and you and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better and faster runner.