Running in the wind is something just about every runner can relate to – whether they live in a mild, moderate climate, or experience all seasons to the extreme. Unfortunately, wind appears during every season, forcing runners to either learn how to run in wind or hit the treadmill.
Running against wind is challenging.
Many runners will argue that they’d rather deal with snow or rain than have to run in the wind. Not only does running against wind present more resistance, but it can also cool things down and even present a bit of danger.
However, with the proper precautions and advance planning, running in wind is something that runners can overcome and get better at with time. The first step is understanding just how wind effects running.
What wind speed affects running?
It goes without saying that the stronger the wind, the more difficult it will be to run against. The addition of wind at any speed has the potential to slow you down during a run.
Here’s how wind effects running pace.
- 5 mph wind = 0-15 seconds slower per mile
- 10 mph wind = 20-30 seconds slower per mile
- 15 mph wind = 30-45 seconds slower per mile
- 20 mph wind = 50-60+ seconds slower per mile
- 25 mph wind = More than 1 minute slower per mile
These estimations provide helpful guidance for runners to understand just how much running against wind has the potential to slow you down. However, the exact effect of wind will depend on the direction of the wind, your effort, running fitness and more.
Does running in wind burn more calories?
Most runners want to know just how much their efforts are worth. So when it comes to wind, a popular question is whether or not you are burning more calories running against wind versus running on a calm day.
Luckily, we’ll all be happy to hear that it is safe to assume running in the wind burns more calories than running without it. Wind adds resistance during a run, requiring more effort to continue at a normal pace compared to calm days.
Just how many calories running against win actually burns, though, depends on the specific conditions outdoors, as well as the health and body type of each runner. Running in strong winds will understandably burn more calories than running against a slight breeze.
Although the extra calorie burn is a nice bonus, it’s usually not enough to make runners to actually enjoy a windy run. Even so, since wind is present in all seasons and climates, most runners find themselves running in windy conditions at least a few times each year.
If you’re stuck running in the wind, here are a few tips to make things feel a bit easier, and dare I say it – enjoyable – on the run.
6 Tips for Running in the Wind
Here’s how to manage running outside on a windy day with as much ease and enjoyment as possible. With a little practice and experience, running in wind can become second nature.
Adjust your expectations.
It goes without saying that running against wind is more challenging than running without it. Even so, it’s important to be realistic about just how much running in the wind affects your pace, effort and more.
Wind of any kind, even just 5-10 mph, is going to require more effort during your run. If you find that it is especially windy, adjust your training accordingly. It is best to avoid speed workouts or longer runs on particularly windy days if possible.
If you are unable to swap things around and find yourself heading out for a workout or long run in the wind, anticipate that your paces will be slower than usual if you continue with the same effort.
Dress for wind.
Not only does wind create more resistance on the run, but it can also drastically cool things down. Dressing appropriately is key to feeling comfortable and enjoying a windy run.
If you usually check the weather to determine how to dress for a run, look for the “real feel” temperature as opposed to the actual air temperature. Wind can often make things feel as if they were 5-10 degrees cooler than the real temperature.
Wind breakers and other wind-specific running gear can be beneficial to help protect your skin from the wind. In cooler weather, wearing some sort of neck and/or face protection as well as gloves will be very helpful. Also, applying some Chapstick or Vaseline ahead of time can help prevent wind burn that might occur on your face.
Keep the same effort.
As you adjust your expectations for a windy run, you’ll find that running with the same effort results in slower paces.
Make a point to gauge your run based on feel and not pace. Running with the same effort as usual is crucial to avoid any injuries that could occur as a result of overcompensating.
Focusing on effort as opposed to pace can be especially challenging for runners with highly structured training plans or those heading out with a specific pace goal. However, remember that maintaining your normal level of effort will result in the same improvements, even though the pace that is reflected might be a bit slower than usual.
Maintain proper running form.
Running in the wind can cause us to inadvertently change our form, stride or posture during a run. Regardless of how strong the wind may be, it’s important to check in on your form and make sure you are not creating any bad habits.
Many runners find that when facing a strong wind, they want to hunch down and lean forward to avoid exposure as much as possible. However, doing so could shift your entire running form, which might lead to injury or nagging pain after time.
Check in with yourself periodically throughout your run. Evaluate your posture and be sure you are standing upright without leaning too far forward. Dressing appropriately for the wind will help avoid any posture shifts, as your body and skin will be protected from the harsh effects of the wind.
Relax and avoid tension.
Another common result running in the wind is increased tension throughout the body. Some runners hunch forward, some find themselves hunkering down, and others might find that they are unknowingly clenching their hands.
While it may be difficult, try to avoid tensing up in the wind. Maintain proper running form by standing up straight and leaning forward only slightly as you run. Periodically check your hands and shoulders to make sure you are not unintentionally clenching.
Checking the weather before your run is a simple way to mentally prepare for what is ahead. Knowing that you will be running in the wind will allow you to prepare mentally, physically and logistically.
Whenever possible, plan to run into the wind on the way out. There is nothing more discouraging and physically taxing than turning directly into the wind as you begin to head home. Your body is tired and running against the wind for the second half of your run will likely present more of a physical and mental struggle than when you first started and were feeling fresh.
Dress for the appropriate temperature with the wind chill, wear protective gear, and think positive thoughts as you begin your windy run.
Running in windy conditions is far from ideal for any runner. Whether you’re heading out for a regular training run or getting ready for a race in the wind, preparation is key.
Taking a few simple steps to prepare ahead of time, staying aware during your run, and understanding how the wind affects your running pace will set you up for success.