Last Updated on September 10, 2020 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP
It’s that time of year! While my pumpkin-spice loving readers are rejoicing, those of us who identify as summer lovers are feeling a bit sad. Never the less, fall is in the air, and it’s time to revisit our fall running safety tips.
You can count me in the kicking and screaming over the departure of my beloved summer crowd. But the fact that Fall has arrived is now inevitable. The temperature is beginning to plummet, and the brightly colored leaves are dropping from the trees nearly as fast. With the changing seasons comes a whole new set of safety concerns runners need to be aware of when training. The days are shorter, the nights (and mornings) are cooler. And those wet leaves on the road? They are slippery.
Fall Running Safety Tips to Keep You Training Through Autumn
Keep in mind that “Fall” weather is going to vary greatly based on where you live. When I first wrote this post back in 2014, I was likely shivering on the back porch of my house in Vermont. Fast forward almost exactly 6 years, and I’m now sweating in 85+ degrees and humidity mid September in South Carolina.
Regardless of where you live, Fall can bring about wildly unpredictable weather. And thus, it’s important to be prepared. Hopefully, these 5 simple – yet important – fall running safety tips will keep you training throughout the pumpkin spice latte season.
You know that saying “if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait five minutes, it’ll change”? It applies double in the fall.
And not just to New England.
Just yesterday afternoon, it was so cold and rainy I thought it might actually snow. Then in the blink of an eye, the sun came out and the humidity sky rocketed. The change in seasons often brings widely variable temperatures, and that’s not limited to only the North East. While you may start a run in the brisk, cool, morning, your workout may end in much milder, sunny weather. Alternatively, a later afternoon or early evening run may experience significant temperature drops as the sun begins to set.
Wearing or bringing multiple layers of running specific clothing will ensure your ability to add, or remove, clothing to keep you comfortable in the varying temperatures.
In short: layers, layers, LAYERS.
In the summer when the sun is beating down on your shoulders and you are sweating buckets; hydrating is an obvious task. Athletes tend to be very aware of the importance of hydrating during the hot, summer months. As the weather cools, however, it can become easier to forget to maintain healthy hydration levels while exercising, as runners often sweat less, and find the mild temperatures more comfortable.
I know when I’m struggling to stay warm, hydration is the LAST thing on my mind.
While your personal hydration levels may indeed decrease during the cooler months, it is still important to be sure to properly hydrate before, during, and after each workout. Carry water with you, just like you would during the warmer spring and summer months.
Wear Bright Colors
Don’t be mistaken for a deer (moose, bear,etc.): if you run on trails or in more rural areas, be sure to wear bright, visible colors.
Hunting seasons vary by location, and unfortunately, some irresponsible hunters may even find themselves on protected land that prohibits hunting. In this situation, it is better to be safe than sorry, so wearing bright, even fluorescent clothing, will make sure others are aware that you are a runner, and not some sort of animal (Bigfoot!).
Further, autumn often brings darker, gloomier (gross, dull) days, so wearing bright colors will also make you visible to traffic, cyclists, and other runners that you may encounter.
As the daylight hours of autumn begin to dwindle, you may find that your morning or early evening run is becoming increasingly darker every day. If you choose to run in the dawn or dusk hours, be sure to make yourself visible to oncoming traffic with proper reflective gear as well as personal light devices, such as a running headlamp, as well as following nighttime running safety suggestions.
Most experts recommend reflective tape OR a light source on all four appendages (legs and arms). The natural movement of running will move these light sources in a pattern that is much more visible to motorists.
Be Smart, be seen.
Watch Your Step
Leaves – both wet and dry – can be slippery, even if you are wearing trail shoes. Further, leaves can cover things like rocks, roots, holes, or anything else just waiting to trip you. Avoid the face-plant, watch your step.
To sum up this post:
- Dress for anything from -10 to 95 degrees.
- Drink up.
- Don’t be mistaken for a deer.
- Make sure you can see where you are going.
- Make sure others can see you too.
The changing of seasons doesn’t have to interfere your running or training schedule. Keep these Fall running safety tips in mind, and keep on running!