Running in the Wind

Running in the Wind – Best Tips for Headwind & Tailwind Running

No one likes running in the wind, that is, unless it is coming from behind. Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice to turn on and off the wind when we like. So, that means we need to adapt and learn how to run, or even hide from the wind when out running.

We all know that wind can impact your running performance. However, the impact it will have will largely depend on the direction of the wind, and of course the strength.

In this article, we discuss running in the wind and provide some tips and tricks that can help limit the disruption to your training.

So, keep reading to find out more.

Why Running In The Wind So Hard?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take big gusts of wind to affect your runs. Small breezes can cause a drastic drop in speed and an increase in heart rate. Because of this the more time you spend running in the wind, the more it can impact your body, speed, heart rate, and technique.

When your running into the wind, the body needs to work harder to keep forward momentum. This increases your energy consumption and changes your running technique. This in turn can rapidly decrease speed over a long run, prevent you from hitting your interval times, and sometimes prevent you from reaching your planned distance because of fatigue.

Recent research has shown that running into a headwind can drastically affect your running pace. That means the longer you are out there running, the greater the impact will be.

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Based on this study, running into a headwind can affect your running speed by:

10 mph wind – a drop in 20 seconds per mile
15 mph wind – a drop in 30 seconds per mile
20 mph wind – a drop in 60 seconds per mile

If the wind is greater than 20 mph, you can see an even more drastic drop in speed. Places like wellington in New Zealand have been well known to go well above these wind speeds.

Luckily not all winds are in our face. Often the wind can push you along and keep you at the same speed. This, in turn, provides some benefits which can include.

– Increase in speed
– A drop in heart rate
– More relaxed running style
– Less energy consumption

Strategies For Running In The Wind

Strategies For Running In The Wind

Even though windy days will impact your heart rate, speed, and economy, there are some good strategies for running in the wind. These include:

Accepting the wind – The quicker you realize that the wind will slow you down, the better off you will be. Instead of trying to keep your normal pace, slow it down and focus on running with perceived effort (RPE). This will prevent you from overreaching or blowing up (fatiguing) during your long run or interval.

Even though this means you are running a few seconds slower per mile, you will be able to finish you run strong and close to the same perceived effort as you would normally run at.

Remember don’t fight the wind, all you will do is end up wasting energy.

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Finish with a tailwind – When you start your run, aim to head into the wind first. This is a time when you are full of energy and relaxed. By doing this, you will only face a headwind for half of your run, leaving you to cruise home with a tailwind during the last half of your run.

Adjust your technique – Because running into the wind can force you to adjust your running style, it is important to stay relaxed. When running into a headwind, it can sometimes force you to tense your shoulders, lean forward, and hunch over. This, in turn, can rapidly increase heart rate and cause aches and pain.

Try to stay relaxed – By doing so, you are more likely to expend less energy. Instead, lean slightly into the wind, similar to running up a hill. That means tilting your head down slightly, as it will also offer lower resistance as you run into the wind. Just make sure the whole body is leaning forward slightly, rather than just from the waist.

Stay aerodynamic – While it won’t have a major effect on your running economy it can help. Keep your elbows close to your body, and your arms bent at 90 degrees. This will prevent your arms from crossing over your body and increasing drag.

Try running in a group – If you are someone that struggles running in the wind by yourself, try running in a group. Just like cycling, running in a group can drastically reduce the impact of the wind. It also gives you the ability to share the workload in the wind, which can allow the speed to be kept up.

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Studies have shown that running in a group it can decrease oxygen consumption by as much as 6% when drafting off a group of runners. Just remember to keep enough room behind the runner in front of you.

Wear tight-fitting clothing – Last but not least is clothing, which is often overlooked. However, it can reduce the drag you face when running into the wind. Try wearing short tights and a tight top rather than baggy shorts or a loose top. even small changes like this can make running into a headwind much easier.

For female runners, try tying up your hair. This will help reduce wind resistance and also prevent hair from being blown in your face all the time.

Try to head into the hills or forest – Even during the windiest days, running in a valley or the forest can help hide you from the wind. Sometimes, keeping in a populated area can protect you from gusts of winds. Alternatively, in worst cases, adjust your run so you do laps in the city or a course. That way you can even out the amount of tail and headwinds during your run.


Remember wind is your friend and if you follow some simple tricks we have outlined in this article can prevent your runs from being disrupted too much.

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