Friday, February 24, 2012

Running in the Wind

It might be that I am only going on 4 hours of sleep (MG was up and ready for the day at 5:00 am and I finished packing at 1). But as I sit here watching the twitter event happening at DisneyWorld for the Princess Half Marathon, I am starting to second guess my choice to stay close to home and run in Cape Cod this weekend for the Hyannis Half Marathon. Not because of the race but because this is what the weather man is reporting:
"Sunny, with a high near 38. North wind between 11 and 17 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph" 

The Running Weather Man is reporting:
"Winds will be gusty in the morning but should diminish some for the end of the race by the afternoon as they come out of the northwest around 10 to 20 mph. This will make it feel like the teens and 20s at times."

TEENS!?! I know hundreds of thousands of people run in colder weather. But if this weather holds up it will be my coldest run to date. Thank goodness I have checked the weather a few times. It really does look like I need to put in our Thermal underwear.

Besides packing some extra warm gear I will also be putting in a prayer to the weather gods asking for NO ice. I know I can handle the wind but pair it with ice and I might be a disaster on the course.

In a last minute ditch effort to make sure I am prepared for this race I have been doing research in how to run in windy conditions. An article by Coach Jenny @ Runners World suggests the following:

Repeat after me, "it can always be worse." Mind over matter.  If you use your energy to fight the wind, you burn through mental and physical energy at a rate so fast you can end up in the bite-me zone by mile 12.  When inclement weather strikes (like Mr. Wind), use a mindful mantra to keep things in perspective and avoid getting sucked into a negativity loop. Play the game and think about ways it could be worse...perhaps a thunderstorm, or hail. Once you get into it, the day's challenges will seem like gifts.
Think energy management. Break the race into three equal parts and run by your effort (feel) rather than your watch.  If you run by the numbers (pace) and into a headwind, you will expend a lot more energy at your normal pace and risk a crash and burn performance.  The idea is to keep your energy consumption  below the red line (hard effort or threshold) until the last act.  For the first part of the race, run in the green zone or at an easy effort where you can't hear your breathing and it feels effortless.  Run at an orange effort for the second act where you can hear your breathing but you are well under control.  And save the red zone (harder breathing and effort) for the final miles when you need to dial in your mental zone and push to the finish.  Running by feel also allows you to run by the wind and terrain.  If you come to less windy sections, you will naturally increase your speed. 
Make like a cyclist and draft.  Find a taller, larger runner going at your pace and draft behind them.  If it is a headwind, run behind.  If it is cross wind, run to the side and if it is in between, sit in the corner pocket.  You'll know when you're there because it will feel effortless and magical.  Better yet, form a pace line with a small group of runners and trade off taking the lead.  After your turn leading the group into the wind, rotate to the back and relax and enjoy.

Here's to hoping that a warm front comes through and the winds calm down.

P.S. I am thinking about wearing a Bomber Ear Flap hat in in honor of my roots (Yooper!) What do you think?


  1. If you have a windbreaker jacket, that would help. Slow it down if the course is icy, sacrificing a PR is better than ending your year with a broken something-or-other.

    But Honey, you've got this. Just go and enjoy it :)

  2. Packed one after reading your comment. Thank goodness because it is hell out there today! I am going to take it slow and go with the feel instead of time tomorrow. Hopefully it will get me to the end.
    Thanks again!