The first run you tackle when that fall-like feeling hits you is arguably the best of the year. The familiar scene: The door closes behind you, and a gentle breeze kisses your cheeks and ruffles some leaves. The once-despised heaviness in the air is missing, and you wonder if — for just a brief moment — you should be wearing more clothes. Then it hits you: Autumn is a thing, a thing that you love. And, it’s about to remind you how head-over-heels in love you are with the sport.
There are no two-ways around it: Summer feels like it lasts forever when you’re a runner. Sure, the summer season is filled with wonderful tidbits, but it’s also filled with humidity, excessive sweating, and for the pavement pounding-inclined, mile after mile of discomfort and sometimes, dread.
In the fall, the second you step outside, you feel as though you’re invincible. Instead of the usual how-long-until-this-is-done sensation you’ve been having, this time feels different. Exciting. Come the “end,” you debate going on for longer, and for the first time in some time — you’re looking forward to the next run. This isn’t just a scene from a good run — it’s a scene from the first good fall run. If you’re the kind of person who has been on the fence about fully committing to a regular running program, the season of pumpkin spice and morning chill is 100% the time to do it.
Here are some things to look forward to about running in the fall:
By the time the two-or-so months of chafing and early morning miles to avoid obscene temperatures comes to an end, you’re ready. You’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to leave the house without needing a third coat of deodorant. Fall brings with it a glorious temperature drop, one that gives runners everywhere the reminder you don’t have to conquer both a workout and humidity simultaneously every single time you lace up.
LAYERING IS BACK
There’s something really, really enthralling about getting the chance to dig into your full running wardrobe — finding the items you forgot you had but just can’t wait to wear. While it’s not the moment for mittens just yet, fall is the perfect time to layer up and enjoy your entire closet, from the perfect light windbreaker that makes you feel like a superhero to that maroon-colored tank you adore. Just make sure your go-to picks are sweat-wicking, to keep moisture away from your body and help you stay cool when the pace heats up.
THE SCENERY IS TOP NOTCH
There’s something extra beautiful about the leaves changing color on the trees come fall. Bright orange, red and golden hues are the perfect complement to personal best mile times and long Saturday runs. Enjoying your miles with a side of beautiful trees and the crisp crunch of fallen leaves under your feet is about as picturesque as it gets.
YOUR NEW ROUTINE IS PENDING
Summer makes it easy to make excuses when it comes to your workout. It’s too hot. It’s too dark. It’s too hot. (Did we say that already?) You get the idea. In the fall, running feels less complicated, and as a result — it’s easier to stick to some sort of a routine. Start with some sort of goal that is attainable, like hitting the pavement 2–3 times a week. From there, start incorporating different types of runs into the rotation.
YOU GET SOME SLEEP BACK
With fall comes the end of daylight saving time, which means long gone are the mornings where you’re getting out there to avoid the heat and it’s still dark. While this isn’t an excuse to ditch your favorite reflective running gear, it is a great opportunity to enjoy those morning route views a little later (and be a little more awake in the process).
POST-RUN ACTIVITIES ARE GREAT
The fall brings with it a whole slew of fun activities that are worth looking forward to once the miles are done. Brewery tours, apple picking, pumpkin patches, football — the options feel endless. Extra points if you incorporate some sort of fall fun into your run routine. Beer mile, anyone?
POST-RUN TREATS CAN’T BE BEAT
Ice cream is great and all, but have you ever indulged in a beer complete with cinnamon sugar rim or a pumpkin donut once the run’s over? There’s a whole world of seasonal eats just waiting for you once you’re finished. Just make sure to drink water, too.
THE TURKEY TROT IS ON THE HORIZON
While racing has gone virtual for the time being, there’s no reason you can’t get amped to DIY your annual Thanksgiving turkey trot (or check off the box virtually). There’s something rewarding about that pre-turkey activity that makes grandma’s sweet potato mash taste extra indulgent come dinner time.
EMBRACING THE MARATHON MINDSET
Of course, if the year wasn’t 2020, it would be racing season. Fall marathons are the best marathons, period. Granted, the beginning of all that training is brutal in mid-July and August. But once the taper hits, it’s harmonious with fall weather and your mind is right.
Just because these races aren’t going off as planned doesn’t mean now isn’t a great time to take on a marathon training plan (but before you do, make sure to check out these marathon prep tips). If you plan on lacing up for a virtual fall race, the anticipation is likely always as readily available as pumpkin spice lattes at your corner coffee shop.
IT’S PR SEASON
Thanks to all of these reasons, fall is the perfect time to check off a new personal record. So set a goal, grab yourself a training plan and get moving!
Originally published September 2019, updated with additional reporting
Whether you want to run your first mile or set a PR, having a plan gets you there faster. Go to the MapMyRun app, tap “Training Plans” — you’ll get a schedule and coaching tips to help you crush it.