Running a “Half” in Florida – Wind Included.
As part of a recent trip to Florida to visit family and friends, my lady friend and I had scheduled in a Half Marathon run in Melbourne, just south of Cape Canaveral. Coming from winter weather in Oregon, we looked forward to a nice change from rainy skies and cool temperatures – running a Half in the sun would be a real treat. But we had overlooked one thing in our race strategy planning – the wind.
So, there we were, starting out at daybreak among a couple of thousand others at the second running of the Melbourne and Beaches Marathon and Half Marathon. As is my usual practice, I went through my looseners, scanned myself for tense or needy areas, thought through some of the ChiRunning technique form focuses I would be using during the run – and then I noticed the wind. People around me were discussing the likely impact of the wind on running certain parts of this one loop Half Marathon course with its two long, elevated bridges where the wind would definitely come into play. What should, and could, I do about it?
During the first few miles, the wind came in from the side of us so whenever possible, I tried, with little success, to use other runners as a shield. The impact at this point was mostly in my head, adjusting to the breeze and the chill that I felt. I was still able to concentrate on the form focuses that had been on my front burner, namely mid-foot landing, relaxed legs and a relaxed yet full pelvic rotation. I had noticed some tension in my calves and hams lately and wanted to use this race to fine tune my form to take care of these potential issues. However, as soon as we made the turn and began to ascend the first overpass bridge, I had to change my focus so as to adjust to the force of the wind.
What to do with this great opportunity to explore form adjustments in my running style? It didn’t take long to remember that wind is similar to hills as far as their impact on running. Running into the wind is like running uphill – increase the lean from the ankles and use the upper body and arm swing more fully. Running with the wind is like running downhill – keep a moderate lean, relax the arms and upper body and focus on the lower body with its pelvic rotation and soft landing. These adjustments proved invaluable as running uphill became easier than usual and running downhill felt like I was flying. Needless to say, my adjustments to the wind led me to pass many of my fellow runners, both uphill and downhill.
All in all, I was quite successful in implementing good ChiRunning technique adjustments to contend with the Florida winds. My finishing time was in the typical range for recent half marathons (1:54), not too bad given this relatively rare challenge presented by Mother Nature. My consistency with the ChiRunning focuses made cooperating with a strong wind possible as a challenge was again turned into a terrific learning opportunity. I recommend it to any Chi Runner – run in a wind and make it your friend. You can do it and you can enjoy the experience.