We don’t often think about running in the wind. Doesn’t really seem to be a factor because we don’t have waves to contend with like the swim and we’re not going that fast like we are on the bike. So, does it even matter?
The short answer is “yes.”
When you run and there isn’t any wind you really don’t need to concern yourself with it. The type of clothing you wear won’t matter and you won’t gain anything by drafting another runner. But, when it’s windy you should make some adjustments.
Again, my recent trip to the Big Island really helped me realize how important racing in the wind is. I ran three times during my recent trip there – two out of three in the heat – and all three in the wind.
One day in particular it was very windy. I put my Garmin on and planned to go eight miles that day – four out and four back.
I was really fighting the wind as I headed north out of the Hilton Waikoloa on the Queen K and actually had to lean into the wind to feel like I was making any progress. At times the gusts nearly knocked me off my feet. My goal was to maintain the same level of effort throughout my entire run. That put my heartrate at 160 (mine runs high so don’t worry).
The turnaround couldn’t have come soon enough. I made the quick turn and instantly felt the difference . . . I was flying! On the way back I maintained the same 160 heartrate but could really feel the difference in my speed.
Total run time: 59:30
Average pace: 7:26
First four miles: 8:00
Last four miles: 6:52
Wow! That’s a huge difference! See how important knowing how to run effectively in the wind can be.
But what can you really do with the wind? Are you really going to wear one of those slippery, one-piece suits like the speed skaters? Doubtful. Here are a couple things you can do, however:
1. Get mental. Get mentally prepared to run in the wind. Just like the swim and bike it is going to be more difficult so just get ready mentally for it. Know that it’s going to be a little harder and that it’s going to be harder for everyone.
2. Change your goals. Just like my recent Hawaii run, understand that you’re either going to have to increase your effort or decrease your time when you run into the wind. If I had tried to maintain a 7:00 pace into the wind I would have blown up.
3. Don’t expect the same cost/benefit. Like running up and down hills, running into the wind takes more out of you than the benefits you derive by running with the wind.
4. Lean. Lean into the wind to get the benefit of gravity. This pretty much happens naturally and helps you from falling over backward.
5. Draft. That’s right, if you can find another runner that’s going at your goal pace, tuck in behind them. It absolutely works!
You’re ready now, so go find some wind!