How much does the wind actually effect my running?

Those of you familiar with NYC running know that the Hudson and East River can be a friend or foe depending on what direction you’re heading. A windy day can make this already challenging course feel like an uphill battle from early on.

Interestingly, there are very few studies examining the effect of wind resistance on runners. This may be due to the difficulty in isolating wind as a sole variable to examine and manipulate in an experimental setting. Additionally, small details such as how tight your running shirt is or how you pull your hair back can influence the effect of wind resistance. No two runners’ experience will be exactly the same.

A (very) old study found that running in high wind resistance resulted in a postural changes. Runners leaned forward into the wind; possibly to decrease potential air drag. The authors found an increase in oxygen consumption proportional to wind speed : “The energy cost of overcoming air resistance on a calm day outdoors was calculated to be 7.8% for sprinting (10 m . s-1), 4% middle-distance (6 m . s-1), and 2% marathon (5 m . s-1) running.” Basically as the wind resistance increased, runners had to work harder to maintain their pace, using more energy!

The majority of the time, the wind off the Hudson or East River won’t drastically slow you down, but it can make you work slightly harder when you’re running directly into it. If the wind isn’t in your favor during the NYC Half (or any other run along the water), try running closer to other runners, wear tighter fitting running clothes and putting your hair in a braid instead of a ponytail!

Lisbeth Hoyt, PT, DPT

Davies, C. T. (1980). Effects of wind assistance and resistance on the forward motion of a runner. Journal of Applied Physiology, 48(4), 702-709. doi:10.1152/jappl.1980.48.4.702