Tips for Windy Running

For the last couple of days, Chicago has been pretty windy.   According to the weather reports, winds have been sustained around and gusting up to 40mph. This has created some pretty cool waves along the path….

Photo credit: Bob Horwitz
Photo credit: Bob Horwitz


….but it’s also been a BEAR to run! This was me this morning as I tried to run into a 30mph headwind:


Must.... go....forward.....
Must…. go….forward…..


The wind has been so bad the last few days, that the Caped Crusader himself has come to check it out and save the city.


Because, why wouldn't you dress up as Batman and ride a Jet Ski?
Because, why wouldn’t you dress up as Batman and ride a Jet Ski?


Yes, that is a picture I took of Batman on a Jet Ski today in Lake Michigan.   He has come to save us all from this evil wind.



Anyways, a runner’s still gotta run, despite how annoying the wind will be. So in this post, I’m sharing some of my tips for windy running.


  1. You are not Storm. You cannot change the weather. The first thing you should do in windy running conditions is just accept the fact that this run might be slower than you want it to be. When you are running into a headwind, don’t fight it and waste energy. One of my favorite quotes to chant to myself during a windy run is “Accept it, accept it, get over it.” (It takes me a few times to accept it, I can be pretty bitter about the wind).


  1. To help you accept it, realize that this is a (FREE) form of resistance training. Running in strong winds is similar to running with a parachute attached to you- something that the pros do to increase running strength and stamina. Today as I was getting batted around out there I thought, “Hey, people actually pay money to hire a coach and run with a parachute to simulate this experience. But lucky me, I get this added challenge fo free!  Those guys are idiots!”  See? A positive attitude can change anything.


  1. Similar to #1, windy running should be by effort, not time. A strong headwind, crosswind, tailwind (heck it sometimes feels like it’s all three!), all of them will change your pace. Just maintain the appropriate effort for the type of run you are trying to do that day and don’t get hung up on the numbers.


  1. Usually when given a choice, I run into the wind on the way out so I have a tailwind on the way back. Man, do I feel like I fly on the way home. BUT, since Chicago has been windy for about 3 days straight now, I’ve decided to mix it up. Today I ran with a tailwind on the way out and headwind home so I was forced to deal with higher effort demands on the latter half of my run to simulate running on fatigued legs at the end of a race.


  1. Wear tight-fitting layers.   Even on sunny days I find that I get a chill with a strong (10+ mph) wind. You can always take the layer off when you have a tailwind and put it back on in the headwind. By making sure they are tight-fitted, you reduce drag.


  1. Lean slightly into the wind while maintaining your form. This will also reduce drag.


  1. Turn your head to the side to breathe if you are confronted with a headwind.  The pressure difference of the wind pummeling you in the face disrupts normal breathing patterns.  Science man.


  1. CHAPSTICK. No further explanation necessary.



Of course, not doing any of these and just mentally cursing the wind will also always work.  Hot, burning rage always makes me run faster.


What are your tricks to deal with running in the wind?


Happy (windy) running,


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