How To Get The Most Out Of Your Autumn Running


When it comes to running, autumn has it all. It’s not too dark and cold, nor is it too hot. In fact, running in autumn is pretty much perfect whether you’re just getting going or adding a bit more to your summer fitness programme. Interested in hearing more? We’re taking a look at how you can get the most out of your group running sessions this autumn.

What Are the Benefits of Running in Autumn?

If you’re actively running in autumn, your body and mind are likely to thank you in so many ways. For one thing, running when the weather’s a bit cooler is actually much easier. The combination of lower heart rates, less dehydration, and running in cooler temperatures will likely see you able to hit the same paces you achieved in summer with slightly less effort. This means you can run a bit quicker or go longer, or even achieve a faster Parkrun than ever before. 

In purely scientific terms, running in the British autumn has been calculated to be up to 30% easier than running in the heat of summer. But if all that sounds too technical, let’s not forget one thing as well: autumn running is actually better for you when it comes to your own health, too.  Getting outside in the autumn can help to boost vitamin D levels, and also ensures that core strength and cardiovascular fitness are sustained.

Sports scientist Professor John Brewer has this running advice to share:

“The mental benefits gained from running are substantial, and likely to be even greater during the darker autumn months. The running-induced release of the body’s natural opiates – endorphins – create a feelgood factor, and while experiencing the countryside and trails is great at any time of the year, the changing colours of autumn and the rugged landscape of a frosty winter’s day can easily and quickly provide a boost to mental health that spending a day inside or in the office certainly will not.”

Planning Your Autumn Running

When it comes to choosing a route for your autumn runs, your best bet is to join a RunTogether running group. Your fellow runners will have some great ideas to get you out and exploring some stunning scenery, while you’ll also benefit from running in a group that shares your passion for the sport.

But don’t forget, reflective running gear is essential for safety at this time of year, even if you don’t think your run will take you anywhere near a road or a car. If you can’t be seen, you are a danger to yourself and anyone – or any vehicle – that you come close to.

If you do fancy a solo outing, remember that running on your own in the autumn does require some planning. Paul Larkin, an editor for Trail Running magazine, recently shared his own autumn running advice:

“You need factor in the length of the run, the time it will take, and the onset of darkness. If your route is unfamiliar, take account of the terrain and gradient – it may take longer than you think, and with the deepest winter days darkening before 4pm, make sure you have plenty of time to get back in daylight. Investing in a head torch is worth considering, helping you to see and be seen. Even the most accomplished runner can get lost and end up in a place or on a road where personal safety is at risk if others can’t see you. It is also important to plan your route carefully.”

This last point is exactly where the expertise of RunTogether’s running groups comes in! 

Dealing With the Autumn Chill

As we’ve touched upon, temperatures will be lower when running in autumn. While this can potentially make running a little easier, it’s all too easy to overreact to a chilly autumnal morning by wearing too many layers of outer clothing. This might be fine for the first mile or so, but the body will soon start to generate heat as a result of the energy being produced and you’ll quickly regret overdressing!

Even in the coldest conditions, this heat needs to be lost, either through sweating or by conduction into the external environment. Yes, staying warm is important, but getting too hot can easily spoil the enjoyment of a long run. Avoid the temptation to overlayer with clothes on your autumn runs and bear in mind that it’s often preferable to suffer from a degree of chilliness. Before long, your body will create its own heat and your core temperature will begin to rise.

And one last thing: autumn fuelling is about more than just throwing another log on the fire! Eating well to sustain training and the body’s immune system is crucial at this time of the year, with the added precaution of not over-indulging too much during the festive period to come. As well as high-carb foods to energise performance and enhance recovery, you’ll need to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to help fight viruses and infections. With the lack of sunshine, it may also be wise to consider a precautionary vitamin D supplement.

Are you interested in finding more running advice to keep you active this autumn? Check out our other blogs for a wide range of helpful resources! If you’d like to get in touch, please send us an email at, or visit our site to find your nearest running group.

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