Fall has long been the favorite season for runners across the globe. But what is it about autumn that’s so special for newbies and pros alike? The weather is part of it, but it comes down to more than a temperate climate alone.
Here, running coaches and devoted runners share why, for them, fall tops all other seasons for logging miles.
TEMPS ARE PERFECT
“I love running in the fall because of the cool temperatures,” says Todd Buckingham, PhD, an exercise physiologist at Buckingham Fitness and a record-setting triathlete. “After running in 90-degree heat with 90% humidity, those runs on 60° mornings make me feel invincible. I can run faster with less effort, and I don’t end up drenched in sweat when I finish! The cool crisp air, the musky-sweet smell of fall, and the crunch of leaves under my feet … it’s just so peaceful.”
IT’S THE CALM BEFORE THE HOLIDAY STORM
“September and October are my all-time favorite times to run personally, and to get my clients more engaged in their practice, too,” says Jonathan Jordan, a San Francisco-based personal trainer and running coach. “This is for a few reasons. One, there is an amazing lull in work around this time of year as folks prepare for the holidays. Folks naturally find it a little easier to find time to commit to a program and therefore see more results. And it’s a natural stress relief for all the crazy stresses of family, money and holiday drama.”
IT’S EASIER TO BREATHE
“This sounds simple, but it’s a game-changer,” notes Channing Muller, a heart attack survivor and avid half-marathoner. “I live in the South, so running in the summer is a test of both heart function and lung capacity. Some runs are fun, but some are a flat-out slog where it feels like I’m trying to breathe through a wet blanket. But then the fall starts to creep up and I find myself breezing through the very routes (and hills) that used to test my lungs. Easier breathing means longer distances are in my life again.”
YOU CAN REAP THE BENEFITS OF SUMMER TRAINING
“There’s a reason why so many major running events are hosted in the fall,” says Kim Brown, who has run the Boston and Chicago marathons, among others. “Depending on where they live, runners tend to be at their best during the fall. Summer running can be physically demanding on anyone because, well, it’s so hot. But if you continue with your workouts and dial your pace back by a few seconds to adjust for the heat, when the cooler weather sets it, you kind of feel invincible. You feel like you’re exerting far less energy, but are able to run faster because your body isn’t working so hard to keep cool.”
ROADS AND TRAILS ARE LESS COVERED
“Fewer people go outside to run after August,” observes Ruggero Loda, a runner and running shoe blogger. “Since I’m an outdoor runner who loves being alone in nature, this is a big bonus for me. I think that with COVID-19, it’ll be especially quiet on the forest trails I love to frequent around my home.”
IT’S EASIER TO CONVINCE OTHERS TO JOIN YOU
“It’s easier to talk my kids into going for a run with me in the fall,” says Shannon Serpette, a longtime runner. “They don’t like to run in the harsher seasons, either. And there’s nothing I love more than going out for a run with my kids in tow. I know they’re getting great exercise and making memories they’ll have for a lifetime.”
RUNNING ANY TIME OF DAY IS A POSSIBILITY AGAIN
“Fall running is the best because you can run any time of day and be comfortable without overheating or freezing your booty off,” says Cortney Logan, an RRCA-certified running coach and co-founder of bRUNch Running. “Cooler morning? Wear layers. Warmer afternoon? Wear less. Changing leaves and pumpkin-y treats post-run are pretty wonderful as well.”
A+ SCENERY IS EVERYWHERE
“In early fall as the leaves are changing, runs are so colorful,” notes Alexandra Weissner, bRUNch Running’s other co-founder. “If you’re a morning runner like me, you can watch the sunrise through a cloth of gold on the horizon. It is so beautiful. I am also spoiled living in Colorado as our trails, especially the mountain ones, are just breathtaking. There are so many colorful vistas waiting for you.”
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.