Oh Sandy. Sandy. When I decided to move back to Cleveland six and half years ago, I never thought I’d be dealing with hurricanes. But here I sit this evening in my Northeast Ohio kitchen, wind howling, rain pelting my windows, and power threatening to go out. Sweet! And it’s all fine when I’m sitting here hacking away on my laptop, but what about that run I had planned for tomorrow morning?
With sustained winds forecasted to be 43 mph, gusting to 80+ I’m thinking it’s probably going to be a treadmill day. When the local schools are closed because it’s too dangerous for kids to stand outside waiting for the bus, it’s probably too dangerous for running outside. Winds that strong will not only literally break your stride and possibly blow you over, but could also blow large blunt objects at your head. Yeah, that’s bad. As for Sandy, these crazy winds should die down soon to a more reasonable (?) 20+ mph. Still windy. Annoying, yes. But probably runnable if you play your cards right. Which brings me to this question:
If the wind is merely annoying rather than dangerous, what can we do to not only make running outside possible, but also more pleasant?
Adjust Your Expectations.
The most important thing you can do to get through a windy run is to adjust your expectations. There is nothing you can do to stop the wind. It’s there. Accept it and adjust your workout accordingly. If you’re running into a headwind (running against the wind, in the words of Bob Seger) your pace will be affected. I’ve run tempos where I ran 6:15 out of the wind and then 7:45 into the wind. Focus on maintaining the right effort level and go with whatever your pace is.
On a related note, it’s important to go with the flow and relax. Don’t fight the wind. You won’t win. In fact, you could hurt yourself. The harder you try to combat the wind, the more you’ll tense up and your form will degrade. You’ll overstrain muscles like glutes and hammies trying to fight it and risk injuring and frustrating yourself. So focus on relaxing and maintaining form through the wind.
One of my favorite mental training books is called Running Within. This book suggests that when running into a headwind, visualize yourself as a wedge cutting through wind. I’ve used this mental technique to great effect on many track workouts. I’m normal Salty running on one half of the track and then Salty in a giant wedge of cheese costume running on the other half. Ha! One of my track workout buddies and I used to think it was hilarious to picture ourselves as cheese wedges. No matter what kind of wedge you picture yourself as, it really does work.
It’s amazing how reframing something we usually think of as negative, like wind, into something not so bad, makes it much more pleasant to run in. Just like hills, wind only sucks if you think it does. By adjusting your expectations, relaxing and perhaps visualizing yourself as something able to cut through the wind, you might get those runs in outside this week, afterall!
How do you feel about running against the wind? Got any tips for windy running we missed?