Summer isn't even officially over and already some of us may be struggling with having to get up while it's still dark outside. But we're here to help you stay motivated. Here are five tips for running in autumn from Milestone Sports endurance athlete Jackie Palmer Merritt.
Daylight Savings Time ends on Nov. 6, which means it will stay darker for longer in the mornings, and get dark earlier in the evenings. Whether you’re running in the morning or evening, you’ll need to wear the right clothing so that you’re visible to oncoming traffic as well as other people. If you're looking to buy yourself some new gear, look for fluorescent and reflective clothing that can be seen when light is shining on you and when it’s not.
Even though the hot summer days are mostly behind us, you’ll still be working up a sweat, especially on longer runs. As humidity lowers, sweat will evaporate more quickly, which causes many people to neglect how hydrated they need to stay on their runs. The resulting dehydration lowers performance and can get you into trouble. Keep some water in your pack or buy a hydration belt. You can also plan a route where you know there are easily accessible water fountains, but keep in mind that many fountains are turned off in the winter months.
If you’re planning to run a fall marathon or half marathon, now is the best time to start breaking in a new pair of shoes. You do not want to go into a race with shoes that are too old or too new as it increases your risk for injury because of a higher rate of impact. Most running shoes have a life of 300-500 miles. If you’re looking for an easy way to keep track of the number of miles you’ve put on your shoes, MilestonePod is great resource. This shoe wearable tracks the mileage on your running shoes along with a slew of other run statistics like foot strike and cadence. You don’t have to make any guesses — with MilestonePod you’ll know the perfect moment to run to the shoe store!
Cooler weather requires a different type of warm-up. While in the summer you might start with some dynamic stretching and then get into your run, in the winter you should start add in a short walk or slow jog to your routine. Try adding in a couple minutes of glute exercises like band walks, which can help facilitate the use of your hip extensors and external rotators, have a good effect on running mechanics and can help reduce risk for injury. Cooler muscles tighten more quickly — so no slacking on your warm-up!
Take advantage of the milder temperatures and try to spend more time running outside. Without the worry of overheating, you can explore the local scenery and find new destinations. If it gets too windy on the road, go exploring and check out a new local trail! Take this as a chance to veer from your typical routine; grab a friend and take in the beauty of fall!
Jackie Palmer Merritt is a 28-year-old ultra-runner, based out of Atlanta, Ga. She is a top finishing ultra-runner, and also holds a PhD in biomechanics and physical therapy.