Run Safe

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's For Your Own Good

Remember when you were a kid and your parents did something mean?  Or maybe you've found yourself doing this as a parent.  You know, when you won't let your kids watch an R rated movie or play Grand Theft Auto like "everyone else's" parents.  You're so MEAN!  We know that sometimes we have to do things not to be mean, but because it is what's best for our children.  And just like our kids, we didn't always understand the reasoning.  Now here comes my weird logic and how I tie this into running.....

When I was out running the other day, in 20 mph winds, I was reminded of the love/hate relationship that I've developed with this act of mother nature.  I've always contended when it's at my back I love the wind and it loves me.  It pushes me along and makes me feel much faster than I know I am.  However, when it's in my face, I HATE it!  It hurts, it slows me down and it makes me want to quit.  But on this most recent run I started to look at it from that parenting point of view.  Maybe, just maybe I've got it all wrong.  Maybe the wind is blowing in my face because it does love me.  It's challenging my will and determination and forcing me to try a little harder.

In Dr. Jack Daniels (not the late night version that helps you sleep) book  Daniels' Running Formula he discusses the affects of running in the wind.  He states "The fact is, the energy required to run a 6:00 mile against a fairly strong headwind (about 15 mph) is the same amount of energy as required to run at 5:00 pace in calm air.  He also contends "Although headwinds can slow you down significantly, a tailwind of equal velocity won't speed you up to the same extent."  Without getting too deep into the science of it his example concludes a tailwind of approximately 17.9 mph would only reduce your VO2 by -10%.  Conversely, a headwind of the same speed would cause your VO2 max to rise in access of +20%.   What is VO2 max?

So the next time you elect to stay inside and run on the treadmill because it's too windy perhaps you may want to reconsider.  It seems running into the wind could serve as a useful training tool.  Probably not to the same degree as hill training but somewhat similar.  After all it's for your own good.

Happy Running


  1. Only certain death would bring me inside to a treadmill. I hate hills. I hate distance. But, I love running outside. Well, unless it's 85 humid degrees in the summer. Yeah, ok, death or heat = treadmill. ;)

  2. I'd rather not run than run on a dreadmill. With that being said, not much stops me from running outside save for sleet/freezing rain. Normal rain, snow, humidity, cold,'s all good.

  3. I've heard / read this as well years ago. Something like a tailwind will only assist you to the tune of about 7%, while a headwind will resist you to the tune of 15%. All I know is, I too dislike a lot of wind on my runs.

    You're right though, for most runs (which are training runs), it is just another form of resistance training (however unplanned it might have been). It would only be in a race where you were going for a goal time that it could be detrimental.

    As bad as they can be though, it does also provide a cooling effect which, depending upon the ambient temperature, can really be helpful (unless if flash-freezes your face).