In honor of the last day of summer, today’s post is a spin-off of a recent Runner’s World article titled “The ABCs of Autumn Running” by columnist JoAnna Novak, which details ways runners can get more enjoyment out of their autumn running (and neatly ties each of those reasons into a back-to-school metaphor).
Mad props to Ms. Novak, but as someone who is chomping at the bit for nippy weather and crunchy leaves to finally make their glorious debut, I have my own wealth of ideas on this very topic, so I decided I’d expand on what she started with the ABCs of Autumn Running, HG Remix:
- Run fast!
It’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeear…summer heat and humidity are gone (whoo hoo!), so now that the temperatures have gone down, why not let your pace do the same? After months of slogging through humid runs and giving all-out effort just to hit our easy paces, we deserve to let our inner speedsters shine. Take advantage of the dry air and the amazingly run-friendly temperatures and bust out a good hard run without feeling like you’re going to keel over after 45 seconds. It’s such a confidence booster to see those old split times on your watch again!
- Run slow!
If you’re going to run fast, you gotta follow it up with a recovery run and this is the time of year when so-called “junk miles” are at their most enjoyable. Suddenly those mandatory easy days don’t seem like such a drag when you can relax and just enjoy the fiery foliage, the woodsy smell of bonfires and the occasional leaf or two that fall on your head while you’re running, without missing it because you’re worrying about your paces or hyperfocused on getting through the hardest tempo mile of your life.
- Reflect on the year
Fall is different for everyone – for some, kids going back to school means a lighter load and more time to focus and get back into a routine; for others, it’s busier and more stressful as work events, social obligations and big races loom on the horizon. But no matter who you are and what’s on your plate this season, fall is the perfect time for reflection. For many of us, falling leaves, early darkness and decreasing temperatures are the first time we realize that the year is more than half way over and by the time we blink we’ll be cleaning up our Christmas decorations and counting down the seconds until a new year. So whether you just rocked your goal race and are starting to finally wind down, or you are still sort of recovering from a goal race in the Spring (sheepishly raises hand…): next time you go for an easy, scenic run, let nature’s beauty be your backdrop as you take a few moments to reflect on everything you’ve accomplished in this whirlwind of a year. You’ll barely have time to once holiday season amps up!
- Have fun
It seems like everywhere you go this season, fun is all around you. Football season has started and people are gathering to cheer on their teams of choice; Halloween, with the promise of costumes, candy and parties is right around the corner; friends are anxious to catch up on each other’s summers over yummy flavored drinks; there is an abundance of fun community activities to keep people out and about. Why not extend the fun of fall into your running life? Take this spirit of the season to heart and remember that at the end of the day, running is supposed to be fun. With all due respect, I think we could all benefit from not taking ourselves so seriously all the time. Remember to enjoy yourself out there – as preachy as it sounds, it really is a privilege that we get to run at all. No one’s paying you to do it, so if you’re not having fun, what’s the point?
- Be a cheerleader
This one is more personal than universal, but with my lighter training load and the aforementioned fun atmosphere all around me, I have vowed to embrace this time to be more of a cheerleader than a star quarterback. So many of my friends are running their big goal races this season, and I am enjoying the chance to take the focus off myself and let them take center stage. This is a great time for me to support all of you more fully and devote more time and attention to following your exciting journeys. I admit, at first I didn’t think it would be easy to step off to the sidelines and not get to share in any of the glory this fall. But I can honestly say I am really enjoying not worrying about myself so much and being more present in all of your lives.
- Absorb nature
We should appreciate the wonders of the natural world all year long, but let’s be honest here: this is not easy to do in the sweltering summer or the polar vortex of winter because it gets f-ing brutal out there. Fall, however, is the Goldilocks of the seasons – not too hot, not too cold, just right. I have no excuse not to be mindful and in awe of the wonders around me: the crunch of brittle brown leaves under my feet (CRUNCH crunch CRUNCH crunch…), the fiery mixes of oranges and reds and earth tones bursting out of the trunks of trees and spilling all over the ground beneath them; the smoky perfume that hangs in the air like a warm blanket, long after the bonfires have fizzled out and the clumps of leaves and bark of trees, damp from the morning dew, have dried out in the cool and dazzling white sunlight; the beads of sweat that burst through your skin in spite of the cold dry air, like hard-earned badges of honor from a kick-ass workout; running through the thick fog that seems to hush the world around you, with only the dark outlines of almost-bare tree trunks and the brilliant blood-red leaves still clinging to their branches visible through the gray mists…I could go on…
The sum of all these parts is that fall running is about mindfulness. It’s about stopping to smell the roses and be present in each glorious moment. It’s about stepping outside of myself, to appreciate both the people around me and the big natural world, of which I am but a small part.
It’s about the little things. Each one of them, both vibrant and fleeting, drifting slowly down to earth through the cool woodsy air.
What is your favorite part about running in autumn?