7 Ways to Enjoy Fall Running

Runner outside in fall weather
Chase Jarvis/Getty Images

Fall has been my favorite season for running ever since I ran on my middle school cross-country team. As the temperatures drop and I smell the familiar scents of autumn, I’m reminded of how much I loved running back then and how I still excited for ideal running conditions in the fall.  

Here in the northeast U.S., like most of the country, the weather is usually not too hot and not too cold -- making it perfect for outdoor running.

The ideal running weather gets lots of runners outside and off the treadmills, and I love feeding off the energy of other runners on the roads and trails.


In addition, checking out the leaves changing colors is always a nice distraction during my Fall runs. And there's always a lot of excitement surrounding some big fall U.S. marathons, such as the Chicago marathon and the New York City marathon. All the buzz definitely gets me more motivated to run.

If you’re getting outside and taking advantage of the perfect running weather, here are some ways you can love it even more and also improve your running performance:

1. Run longer.  It’s much safer to run in cool temps and low humidity, so try pushing yourself to run a little farther. Start by lengthening a couple of your weekly runs by 1-2 miles.  Then add a mile to your long run every week. If you’re running three or fewer days now, try adding another day of running to your routine.

2. Try trail running.  Bike or hiking trails are the perfect place to take in the beautiful sights and smells of fall. Check out the interactive map on TrailLink.com to find trails near you.

3. Pick up the pace. It may have been tough to push your pace in the blistering heat of summer, but you might have an easier time now.

Start by introducing some strides (short intervals of sprinting) after an easy run. You could also try doing fartleks, which are runs in which you alternate between fast segments and slow jogs, are a fun way to get started with speed training because they're not structured and your work-rest intervals can be based on how you feel.

4. Run a race.  Fall is a popular time for races, from 5Ks to marathons. Pick a race that you know you’ll be ready for and register, so you’ll have a deadline to keep you motivated. Even if you feel like you’re not ready to run a race, go watch one. Cheering on the runners will get you psyched to get out there running yourself.

5. Enjoy a post-run fall treat.  One thing I look forward to after a crisp fall run is a mug of pumpkin spice coffee when I’m done. Whether you like soup, chili, hot apple cider or other comfort food, there are plenty of yummy seasonal treats to help push you through your runs.

6. Buy a new running item. Getting a new piece of running gear will motivate you to get out and use it. Whether you pick up a new long-sleeve shirt, a new hat, or a pair of capris (my favorite fall running apparel), you’ll want to give it a spin during a run.

7. Dress in layers. The temperature can change quickly during the fall, so be prepared by dressing in light, wicking layers. You can always tie a long-sleeve shirt or light jacket around your waist if you get too warm.

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