Ugh, running in the wind. It is pretty much a pain in the you know what. Of course I had to move to the Midwest to a place that calls itself “The Windy City.” I know this nickname doesn’t have to do with actual wind but try telling me that when I am out for a run. Like it or not, you are going to have to deal with it sooner or later. You can hide inside and run on the treadmill on windy days, but races don’t cancel due to wind.
This past fall I went for my first solo run along the Lakefront Trail in Chicago and as I moved south the wind started pushing harder and harder against me. At one point near my turn around the wind was pushing so hard that I felt like I was pumping my arms and legs but not moving. It even blew me off of the path. I actually shouted, “Screw you!” to the wind. It didn’t help and had someone been around they might have thought I was nuts….I might be anyway. One day on a particularly windy run my husband lamented, “If I turn around and this wind follows me I am going to quit!”
So what is a runner to do? Honestly the only answer is, “Deal with it.” The wind isn’t going anywhere and even if it does, it will show back up soon enough. For me, I find that the wind is the worst in the spring and fall. So there are probably a few more weeks of annoying gusts to deal with.
The first thing I recommend doing in the morning or whenever you are getting ready to head out on your run is the check the weather online. Just as you want to know what the temperatures are so that you can dress accordingly, you can also see what the wind is doing. By knowing what direction and how hard the wind is blowing you will be mentally prepared to deal with whatever is coming your way and you can also plan your route out accordingly. I personally prefer to deal with the wind at the start so that I can enjoy an easier run for the second half. So I will generally head into it for the first half of my run and then enjoy it at my back for the remainder.
Remember that running into the wind is going to slow you down. Instead of getting frustrated just remember that it is natural to run slower and expect to add up to 30 seconds per mile to your running pace depending on how hard the wind is blowing. If you are pushing against the wind, stop looking at your watch and just allow yourself to cruise at a slower than normal pace. On the flipside when you run with the wind you can enjoy a bit of a faster pace. Ever go for a run and feel like you are flying only to turn around and realize you were running with the wind?
Running against the wind is considered resistance training and can actually help to make you a stronger runner. That added resistance can help work as speed training as long as you don’t wimp out and slow your pace down too much. Treat it as a challenge and it will actually help to make you a stronger and faster runner. You can feel tough like all of those sprinters you see working with parachutes on the track.
Jack Daniels, again the coach and not the drink, states that running against the wind is extremely costly to your pace and that you will never be able to make up the pace when you turn around and have the wind at your back. Daniels states, “A headwind means a slower pace, and any runner who fails to heed this fact is flirting with disaster.” Daniel’s Running Formula 2nd Edition. I would say this is excellent advice to run/live by. If you find yourself at a race with strong winds you are likely not going to PR. So don’t head out of the starting blocks struggling against the wind to try and keep your normal pace. This will likely leave you exhausted halfway through the race.
It is always good to keep in mind that you never know what race day conditions will be like. That is why it is great to push yourself to try running in some of the more annoying weather conditions. Wind, rain and snow generally don’t stop races. So practicing in the wind is an excellent way to mentally and physically prep yourself for a potential windy race. That being said, I don’t recommend running in tornado like conditions or in lightning.
The art of distraction is important to learn as a runner. If you head out on your run and spend the entire time thinking about how much it stinks to run in the wind, your entire experience will pretty much be miserable. The same goes for counting your miles or focusing on how exhausting running can be. All of these will make it seem unbearable. Listen to some music or a podcast or take the time to figure out how you are going to reorganize your kitchen. By pushing the wind out of your thoughts you might find that you forget about it and it really isn’t quite as annoying as you originally made it out to be.
Just remember that like every uphill has a downhill to accompany it, you can only run against the wind for so long before it will eventually be at your back.
On the bright side I think spring is such a beautiful time to be outside. Yesterday was my day off and I enjoyed just walking around all afternoon. I wanted to share a few pictures from my wandering adventure. I hope you all had a great weekend!
Congrats to everyone who raced this past weekend. A special congrats to Carrie for an awesome 5K and to my friends who raced at the Trout Festival. Happy belated birthday to Madeline!