Tips for running outdoors during autumn

autumn outdoor running

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons for running. Nature looks so beautiful at this time of year, plus the cool, crisp mornings are ideal running weather. 

But as the constant rain and stormy weather we’ve had where I live in Norfolk over the last week has reminded me, there are also drawbacks of running outdoors during autumn. 

As well as the windy and rainy weather conditions, the evenings get darker earlier and the mornings get lighter later, which means either planning a daytime run or having no choice but to run in the dark. Add to this sudden changes in temperatures and weather conditions, so that the long sleeve top that was perfect at the start of the run becomes way too hot half way through, makes outdoor running during autumn full of challenges. 

But no matter how changeable, dark and rainy running during autumn can be, I still love running outdoors at this time of year. 

If you’re new to running or head straight for a treadmill once summer is over, here are some of my tips for running in autumn and enjoying it. 

Staying safe when running in the dark 

During autumn the clocks go back, so by the end of the season unless you’re lucky enough to plan all your runs during the day, you’re likely to have to run in the dark. Staying safe when running in the dark is vital, so making sure you can see and be seen is the priority. Running in urban areas with good street lighting helps, or if you live in a rural area, invest in a good runner’s headlamp – if you are unsure of which one to buy take a look at Runner’s World’s best headlamps for 2020

As well as this, wear reflective clothing (most tops and bottoms for runners have reflective materials), as these help you to be seen easier by drivers when crossing roads or running down dark country lanes. It also helps to pre-plan your routes and stick to areas and routes you know well and that are safe. 

Running in bad weather 

Autumn doesn’t usually bring really cold weather but it does often involve running in strong winds and heavy rain. This means it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather app and if a weather warning is put in place, think about whether you can run on a different day. Running during strong winds can be dangerous, especially if you run in areas with lots of trees or built up areas. Running in the rain is usually less of a problem, although again checking the weather app for weather warnings on flooding maybe a good idea.

Autumn running clothes 

What to wear when running in autumn can be tricky. Summer is easy – shorts or cropped leggings and a vest top. Winter is simple too – layer up with long leggings, a base layer and long sleeve top. Add gloves and a hat on very cold days. During autumn though the weather can be changeable, sometimes even mid-run. There are lots of times when I’ve headed out really early on a cool, crisp autumn morning, only for the sun to come out and it to get warm during my run. I’ve found that wearing light layers that can be easily peeled off and carried is a good idea. If that’s not possible, opting for a t-shirt and long or cropped leggings usually works for me. On early morning easy runs I also often wear a long-sleeve top as I personally prefer to be too warm than cold. Also, a good waterproof jacket and a cap are essentials when running in the rain.  

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