We’ve officially turned the corner from summer to fall, and for many runners, the change is beyond welcome. Autumn brings a fresh, new feeling to your exercise routine: a chance to get back on track, an opportunity to run outdoors, and a moment to remember why you love running in the first place. Here are seven reasons why fall running is the very best kind of running.
Fall running means you can run pretty much any time of day—a huge perk in comparison to those sultry summer workouts where you’re forced to wake up super early or save your run for sunset. No need to beat the heat or worry about overheating; you can simply head outside for a trail run and enjoy the fresh air. Plus, you may experience improvements in endurance and speed with each run without the distraction of sun and sweat.
Another reason to start running in the fall? The beautiful scenery. As your feet pound the pavement, pause to appreciate the crinkle of leaves beneath you, the dappling of sunlight through the colorful trees, and a bright blue sky. The air even smells different this time of year, which is not only pleasant but can also help you breathe easier during a run.
“Really focus on stable, rhythmic breaths,” says Aaptiv trainer Kelly Chase. “In through your nose, out through your mouth. Generally, I breath in every third step and breathe out every third step.”
We’re all used to setting resolutions at the start of every year, but fall can kickstart exercise habits for the better. Use this time to hit the reset button on your weekly runs, or simply build consistency with running a few times a week. End of summer can also mean less travel and more time at home, or back-to-school for kiddos, which translates to a little more room in your daily schedule for a run.
Lots of Layers
Fall is the ideal season for busting out your cold weather layers, too—brightly patterned long sleeve shirts, puffy running vests, and thick leggings.
“If it’s cooler out, make sure to layer up or wear proper athletic clothing to keep you warm,” says Chase. “Of course, you’re going to get warm, but we need to keep our bodies externally warm first. Once you start to cool down from your jog, you want to avoid ‘catching a cold’ if you’re not dressed properly and you’re sweating. Stay warm; you can always take off a layer and tie it around your waist if you need to. Or, take it to the treadmill or elliptical indoors instead.”
There’s nothing better than indulging after a long or speedy run—you’ve earned it! Fall running allow you to burn extra calories from your favorite seasonal foods: a pumpkin spice latte, thick wedge of apple pie, heaping bowls of chili, or even a dark beer of your choice.
Fall races are aplenty, but more importantly, they’re just plain fun. Sign up for your first 5K, train for a half-marathon, and explore your local community calendars for themed races, such as zombie or color runs. These races also allow you to accomplish new goals, like speeding up your training pace.
Social time with friends frequently focuses on food and drink—which is awesome. However, fall running provides a healthy option for hanging out, where you can check a workout off your to-do list and catch up with a pal at the same time. Fall is also the perfect time to bring your dog along for a run, or break out the jogging stroller with your toddler in tow, since you don’t have to worry about the hot weather or loads of sunscreen.
Truly, fall weather flat out makes a lot of us happy, and that’ll only benefit your attitude to exercise. “Being in a good mood while working out just sets you up to obtain your goals faster, because you actually want to be doing the workout,” says Chase. “I personally enjoy running in the fall because I feel like I could run for forever.”