Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beating The Wind in Boston

Okay, confession time: I broke my own rule and checked out the Boston forecast this afternoon. And, oh man, it looks like wind, wind, wind. (You'll recall how much I love the wind--HA!) First, let's get the bad news out of the way: Studies suggest that when you're running into the wind, it would take an extra 8 percent effort to maintain your regular training pace. Okay, deep breaths. You still with me? I've already had my meltdown and I'm on to the next phase: Planning. Having a strategy in place for a worse-case scenario--in this case, the 20-35mph winds predicted from the East--always makes me feel more in control. So I dug around and it appears there are some legit strategies and tactics for dealing with the wind. Here's an awesome article on tactics for dealing with wind by Coach Bob Glover, on the New York Road Runner's site. More tips...
  • Draft, people, draft! Unlike in the cycling portion of triathlons, drafting is not illegal on a marathon course. notes that as you run, you create a pocket of air behind you that travels at the same speed you do. Anyone behind you in this pocket doesn't have to push any air out of the way since it is already moving at his/her speed. You have to get up pretty close to another runner to reap the wind resistance benefits--which could understandably annoy that marathoner--so pass the good karma along and switch off if you're in a pack. Or, find a few folks running as a group and tuck in behind them for a really good draft.
  • Lean forward! Some experts suggesting slightly tweaking your running form to battle the wind. Lean into the wind a little to decrease resistance, and stay as relaxed as possible to keep your running form strong and to conserve energy.
  • Cluster up! According to, researchers have found that running in groups (also called clustering) consistently results in better performance than running alone. The benefits are due to group pacing (someone always feels like maintaining the pace), the group dynamics of sharing the goal and motivating each other and, of course, drafting. If you can run in a pack of runners who are running at your pace, do it. Those of us who go out on our own must do all the work ourselves.
  • Dress smart! Hot days are awful, but cold days can also get ugly thanks to the chilling effects of the wind. Be smart and bring warm clothes and blankets to the staging area, then dress appropriately for the race. A windbreaker may make the wind bearable if it's cold--and with predictions in the 40s, it very may well be.

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