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Hate Running In The Wind? Try These 6 Tips

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My alarm is set, my clothes and gear are laid out, I’m getting to bed early…everything is in place for a great workout tomorrow morning. I even sleep well, for a change — no middle-of-the-night kid drama or neighbor’s security alarm going off. I wake up on time and spring into action…and then I hear it.

The wind is howling. In a second all my internal motivation transforms into excuses. It’s going to be cold…and slow…I always feel so much more tired afterward…I can run in the afternoon…that way I can drive to a different part of town where it’s more sheltered…mmm, that means I can go back to sleep now!

Is it just me, or is running in windy weather a motivation-killer for some of you too? For a while I was checking an hourly wind forecast when I planned my training, trying to avoid the worst of it. But recently I’ve changed tactics. Now I look at the purpose of my workout for the day and embrace the challenge of figuring out how the wind can help me achieve that goal.

Here are 6 ideas to turn the wind from an energy-sapping nemesis into a valuable training partner:

1. Free resistance workout

Want to build strength? Speed? Power? Want to do it safely with less impact on your body? Run into the wind. You’ll get the benefit to your cardiovascular system of working at a higher intensity while going easy on your legs.

running in windy weather

This works even better if you can use a heart rate monitor to measure your intensity level, since your pace will be different from a comparable interval or tempo workout without wind resistance.

2. Extra recovery

Is today your easy day? Run with the wind at your back. You’ll get to keep your heart rate low while keeping your legs moving fast and using good form.

Alternatively, power-walk into the wind for a recovery workout using slightly different muscle groups. Bonus points if you combine it with hills.

3. Alternate headwind and tailwind

You can have a great interval workout running fast into the wind and turning around away from the wind for your recovery intervals. It almost imitates a hill workout for those of us who live in flat areas.

4. Zig-zag

This is my current favorite. Instead of my usual out-and-back route along the main road, which would require a long stretch into the wind at the start, I run all of the short blocks in the neighborhood — the roads that branch off the main road and are perpendicular to the wind. Back and forth on those streets, the houses block some of the cross-wind.

running in wind
Boris Behncke, Flickr

I use those cross streets as breaks from going up-wind on the main road, and then eventually turn around and enjoy the tailwind home. Changing how you’re running relative to the wind is a great way to cope with it, and can also give you a Fartlek-type workout by varying the resistance every few minutes.

5. Worst-case race prep

I’m training for the Cape Town marathon. Cape Town is windy, that’s why I have to deal with this in training all the time! This is essential preparation. If I avoid the wind in training, I might really struggle on race day. On the other hand, if I train in heavy wind and then luck out with a calm race day, I’ll feel like I’m flying!

It’s a great opportunity to practice for what’s coming, and err on the side of making it harder for myself in training, rather than avoiding the challenge.

6. Remember the goal

Even when I use these strategies, sometimes I’m still discouraged when I check my paces after a windy run. Then it’s time for the mental work. What am I really trying to do here? Beat my last training time? No. Today is not the goal, the race is the goal. As long as I’m in training, the effort I put in is way more important than the result I get out. And running into the wind takes a lot of effort!

Do you ever get discouraged by windy weather and struggle to complete your training runs? Don’t let it stop you! Try one of these strategies, or come up with your own, and just get out there, you won’t regret it!

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