These glorious autumn days are perfect for running
The glorious colours and cooler temperatures of these beautiful autumn days are ideal for getting outdoors before the cold, dark winter sets in
“October is easy on the eye and a glorious month to get outdoors and inspired. We have a carpet of crisp leaves and glorious colours enticing us along the trails and paths.” Photograph: iStock
If you struggled running in the heat of our record-breaking summer, I would bet you are loving these glorious autumn days. Running feels easier and more comfortable as our body no longer needs to expend energy keeping cool. Runners who became frustrated with their lack of progress over the summer are now thriving in these cooler temperatures. There have been many personal bests in park runs and longer events in recent weeks after a summer that seemed to show little running progress.
Even if you were not a summer runner, I would really encourage lapsed runners/walkers to take advantage of these October days. Don’t put off the running comeback until the new year. October is easy on the eye and a glorious month to get outdoors and inspired. We have a carpet of crisp leaves and glorious colours enticing us along the trails and paths. Our long shadows accompany us on our miles and while we notice the chill in the air when we start, we warm up quickly and the sights and smells bring us home fresh and energised. Once the clocks change in a few weeks, we might need to rejig our running plans, routes and goals for safety reasons but for now we still have a few more weeks to take advantage of the last of the morning and evening daylight.
Our running wardrobe needs to change now too. While we still might be wearing our summer running attire, we need to make sure we are visible to other road and path users. In the past few weeks, I have seen runners dressed in dark colours crossing roads at dusk oblivious to the traffic, which is not expecting them to sprint across at traffic lights. While we often leave the house in daylight, the darkness arrives quickly and at this stage of the year we can forget that we are invisible to other road users. It is our responsibly to dress to be seen.
While we might be very diligent about keeping safe and visible in the winter time, we can be a little lax now as it’s not ‘quite’ dark or cold enough to be dressed in multiple layers. We often associate the high-vis items with our winter wardrobe, but even if the weather is still warm enough to stop us wearing more than a single layer of clothing, we still need to be seen. We may leave the house in daylight and it’s only when we return that we notice how quickly the evenings have shortened.
There are so many reflective items on the market now for runners that high-visibility does not have to weigh you down. From arm bands to shoe lights, LED head torches to reflective belts, being visible does not require you to wear heavy layers. Cyclists tend to be a step ahead of us runners in their visibility and if you do need to pick up some lights, head to the shops where the cyclists go. As with everything these days, you can buy in discount stores and designers stores so I suggest you chat to local runners and cyclists and find out where they get their supplies.
If you are running in areas that are not well-lit, there is more to consider than just others seeing you. As pretty as the autumn colours may be, wet leaves on the ground can disguise potholes and other obstacles. Be sensible about where you run and consider a lightweight head torch to guide your path.
Rekindling our love for running and the great outdoors this month has an added bonus. As the darker days approach, we all need something to keep our mood up. Regardless of any fitness or weight-loss goals we might have, keeping our head light, fresh and positive is hard to do when we are spending most of our time indoors. Build a routine this October so it becomes easier to keep on moving outdoors in the winter. Consider finding a buddy to keep you on track. I notice the busiest time for my running classes are the upcoming winter months. In summer, motivation is high, there is less structure to our days and we are naturally outdoors more. In winter, running goals generally take a back seat, so the excuses come quicker. The darker the day, the more support and motivation we need.
So go on, get outside this October. In a few weeks we will be reminiscing about these evenings and longing for the daylight. We have them now so it’s up to us to get out and enjoy them. Before we get stuck into the habit of an indoor winter, create a space in your day for getting outside. If running is not your thing, walk, cycle or wander along a park path. Pop on your hat and gloves if you must, but don’t complain about it being chilly. It’s only chilly when you are standing still.
Mary Jennings is founder and running coach at ForgetTheGym.ie