Tuesday, October 17, 2017

6 Challenges of Fall Running and Why You Need to Get Outside

Fall running can be amazing. After running in the heat of summer, the cooler temperatures can be a welcome relief. Mother Nature takes out her paintbrush and provides us with a feast for the eyes. The sound of fallen leaves crackling underfoot is like music to the ears. And need I mention thumbholes?

I woke up Sunday morning with visions of a leisurely fall long run on the bike path. Reality quickly set in as I heard the rain hitting my windows, wind whipping outside. The transition from summer to fall isn't always pleasant. But a runner's gotta do what a runner's gotta do, and that is to run, no matter what the conditions. I could have taken it to my treadmill, but that's not who I am. I run outdoors, no matter what. And you should too.

Originally, this post was planned as a tribute to fall running. If it's beauty and colors you're looking for, there are plenty of posts out there showcasing all that is good about running in the fall. Inspiration comes in many forms, and this cold, rainy, run provided me with plenty. This run reminded me that running in the fall isn't always pleasant, but there's the satisfaction of pushing through tough conditions.



Weather
Sunday's run reminded me of why running in the fall can be a challenge. There was wind, there was rain, and did I mention the wind? With the change of seasons comes those dramatic changes in the weather. Sometimes I'll see 4 seasons all in one run. It's not always pleasant, but it's never dull. When it's windy, don't take your run to the treadmill. Do what I do and head out INTO the wind. That way when you're on the way back, you'll have a tailwind that will make your run feel almost effortless. Maybe you'll even get negative splits if you're into that. Look at running in temperamental weather as an added challenge. It won't kill you and it might even make you stronger. Or as my dad would say, it will put hair on your chest.


Trail Conditions
With rain and maybe even snow, the trails and roads can become slick, especially with fallen leaves. Puddles and flooded trails, which I encountered on Sunday, can make your running path into an obstacle course. Don't be a wet blanket. Puddle jumping is a workout too! Wet feet are no fun but sometimes you can't avoid it. Make sure you wear wicking socks and stuff your shoes with newspaper when you get home. That will help them dry properly.

Mud, water, leaves...and wet feet
No Water Fountains
This is the time of year when the park districts turn off the water fountains. There's nothing worse than running on an unseasonably warm day and finding a non-functioning fountain. My motto: be prepared. I run with a handheld all the time and it's no different for me in the cooler weather. You still need to drink no matter what the temperature.

source: Frank Herholdt
Bye-bye Portapotties
Come fall, the park districts pack up the portapotties. I have to admit that this bothers me a lot. We all know that I have tummy troubles on the run and seeing a portapotty in my time of need is like an oasis in the desert. I know my running routes pretty well and make sure my route includes a gas station, grocery store, or park district shelter so I have access to the facilities. The wooded forest preserves offer privacy, should something unexpected happen. Not that I know anything about that.


Layers upon layers
Fall is bipolar. Yesterday's run brought not only wind and rain, but the temperature dropped about 15 degrees in the 80 minutes I was out there. There were also peeks of the sun. Fall runners need to be prepared for any conditions. While the rule of thumb is always to underdress--there's nothing worse than overheating--make sure you wear layers that you can remove or put back on depending on the weather. Wear items that wick moisture--anything else will stay moist and will cool you down.



Laundry
With the need to wear more layers comes more laundry. All summer, my clothesline in the laundry room has held 4 singlets and 4 bottoms. Easy peasy. Come fall and we're back to a full clothesline again...base layer, outer layer, tights, gloves, hats.... I don't have any tips here, I just wanted you to be prepared.


There's no denying that running in the fall can be challenging. The conditions I ran in on Sunday reminded me of a couple of things: that I am tough, that I am not afraid of a challenge, and that I can do hard things. These are the runs that separate the men from the boys. The runs that show who's the real deal. Running in tough conditions isn't always pleasant, but it's always satisfying. I don't think you can say that about running long on the treadmill.

Are you going to run inside all winter? Because if you aren't, then you need to run outside in the fall. The tough runs of the fall will prepare you for the conditions in the winter.


Do you run outside when the weather is less than optimal? Or are you a treadmill warrior? Any inclimate weather running tips I missed? Don't worry, my winter running tips will be coming soon!

I'm linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patti for Tuesdays on the Run as well as Debbie, Susie, Lora, and Rachel for Coaches Corner!







71 comments :

  1. seriously, why do they turn off the drinking fountains? that drives me crazy.

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    1. It gets pretty cold here in the winter so it probably has something to do with the pipes freezing? It's really annoying...

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  2. I love running in cooler temps but admit I’m not a fan of the rain anymore. I’m too worried about slipping and hurting my already bad knee. I used to love it though!

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    1. I don't mind the rain in the summer, but in the cooler temps, not so much!

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  3. I run outdoors all the time and while I don't love running in the rain, I will do it - outdoors just feels right for me. Luckily we don't have to deal with snow and ice. But now that our weather finally turned cool, I can appreciate your fall running tribute!

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    1. I would prefer to run outside no matter what. I just hate running on the treadmill!

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  4. I live in the Midwest too and try to stay off of the treadmill. Sometimes when there is a blizzard I cave but I do look at the forecast and make bad weather days my days off. Like last Tuesday - it was raining like a monsoon but it was only 40 degrees. I did suck it up Sunday, however. No rain but horrible wind. I was the only soul out besides my dog.

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    1. That wind was really something! I passed a couple of other people on the path, but I mostly had it to myself.

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  5. I run in all kinds of weather, but I make good use of my treadmill, too.

    Yesterday was a cloudy, windy, 50s but feels like 40s day and this morning there was a hard freeze. Yes, I ran outside yesterday and plan to do so again, but I know I'll also sometimes resort to the treadmill.

    The hardest part is that first step ... it's not always easy getting out of your cozy, warm home!

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    1. We haven't had the freeze yet, which I'm grateful for. The water fountains are still on...

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  6. Once we get some Fall weather i'll be happy to experience it and run outside, lol. Dealing with the wind during the Fall is always a huge challenge. I don't mind layering up for a run but I really dislike all the laundry that comes from it!

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    1. I have to agree with you--the wind is the worst!

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  7. I love the idea of Fall running but you're right that the reality is often harder. And the water fountain thing drives me nuts. I know they have to be turned off before the freezing Winter temperatures but does it have to start so early!?!

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    1. I'm glad the water fountains are still on. This is pretty late for that...I'm expecting that they'll be off very soon.

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  8. I always prefer running outside over the treadmill. 4 miles on the mill feel like 10 to me ...they just drag on and on. With that being said, I have been doing my progression runs on the mill so that I can set the pace and go. I've found it helpful in my training. Cooler temps are more than welcome but rain is a no go for me. I will not begin a run in the rain. If it starts to rain while I'm already running, I'm fine ..but just can't bring myself to begin in the rain. Guess I'll never get any hair on my chest! Lol

    We don't get the rough weather conditions in the fall and winter that you guys get so I'm thinking that our summers are as brutal for us as the winters are for you guys.... okay, maybe not quite as brutal as the winters up there, but they're pretty bad. :)

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    1. My treadmill is so old and even doing intervals has become a challenge. I think the only thing I can do is just run on it. Nothing fancy like progression runs.

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  9. ugh.....fall has more extremes than any other season (well, spring is a close second). Once that wind starts, I swear it doesn't stop until the following summer. A sunny autumn day (with wind) is glorious, but cloud cover & frigid temps? No thanks.

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    1. Spring and fall are pretty tough in the midwest! For me, the biggest challenge is the wind.

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  10. I run outside as long as I feel the roadsides are clear/safe enough, but there's no shame in the mill either. I think the flexibility to be able to work between the two builds resilience. Any run is a good run in my book.

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    1. No shame in the mill at all. I just don't like it!

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  11. I hate running when Santa Ana winds are blowing, but I don't own a treadmill so it's outside year round for me. Unless there is a wildfire burning nearby, then I'm a no go.

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  12. Its still been pretty warm here, but Ive already had to run in the rain which is always a little more unpleasant in the fall. Now I feel like its that time of year when the weather is completely unpredictable!

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    1. We've had a really nice, albeit warm fall. Now that the transition is here, I'm not so sure I'm ready!

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  13. I did not realize about the water fountains and porta potties bc I don't use them. Good to know! I love running in fall it's when I feel the best but I do agree you do have to think ahead more. We have not had much of a fall yet but I am looking forward to it

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    1. Our fall hasn't been very eventful either! I know what's coming, but we sure are easing into it.

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  14. I used to run only on the TM during the week (and outdoors on the weekend), as I run in the wee hours before work (before 5AM). Since school started back, however, my BRF has been getting up early for our T/TH runs to meet me at 4:45 to get them in before work (she is also a teacher). If a Saturday long run has horrible conditions, we may take it to my gym, as Hubby tends to have *quite* a lot to say about us running in poor conditions.

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    1. I'm glad to hear you're getting outside in the morning! The sunrise is such a great reward.

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  15. I always seem to need my handheld too! I don't mind cold, only when things are icy or snowy, I'll skip because I am way too klutzy!

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    1. You and me both! I've slipped on the ice way too many times. Heck, I trip on the pavement!

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  16. Great tips, Wendy! I run outside unless it's so icy that the trails are dangerous or there's lightning.

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    1. It has to be pretty bad for me to take it inside.

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  17. It's funny - sometimes I run outside in crappy weather and inside when it's nice out. All depends on my mood that particular day. And I'm much more likely to turn to the treadmill when it's 90* with matching humidity than when it's cold and rainy. (But I don't run when it's icy...) I know, my running patterns make no sense.

    -MCM Mama

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    1. I would be more likely to run on the 'mill in the heat and humidity than the cold too. Humidity is a my kryptonite, as I read on someone else's blog...

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  18. The wind is the absolute worst!! Sometimes I yell into it to make myself feel better :-) it only kind of works. I'm trying to get in the last few weeks of cycling without freezing to death so I actually look forward to the runs, even in the wind and rain! And port-o-potties and water fountains are non existent on my runs year round but I also run near a lot of wooded areas at all times...

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    1. I am always prepared for the lack of portapotties in the winter. It's a little awkward with the snow and the cold and all!

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  19. So true about the laundry! I never know what to wear running in the Fall and often change at least once between waking up and leaving the house. My favorite for late Fall is the gloves or no gloves dilemma. My hands get really cold, so I probably wear gloves more often than most.
    On the bright side, I'm now starting to run again! Just run/walk intervals for no more than 30 min, but it's something!

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    1. Yay for running again! That's great news.

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  20. What is this fall that you’re speaking of? No fall here, just hot, hot, hot. But fortunately, they do keep the water fountains turned on (though I usually carry my own) and the toilets are the real plumbed version.

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    1. I can't complain--our fall has been quite pleasant! I'm afraid of what's to come.

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  21. They turn off the drinking fountains? That just seems cruel!!! I don't get it!

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    1. It gets pretty cold here in the winter and I assume the pipes could freeze. You'd think they'd have a workaround for that, for the runners... :p

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  22. I love running in rain, but maybe because getting to do that here is a rare treat... but I don't know how I would do if it was really cold... like winter and snow

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    1. I don't mind the warm rain in the summer but cold fall rain is not at all pleasant!

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  23. I was worried about not having the bathrooms this fall... guess I won't need to worry about it now!

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  24. With all the temp changes and fronts, we've been getting some pretty good wind. Luckily it wasn't too bad on my 5-miler, but the day before, it was cranking. The forecast has the same pattern starting Friday, so I'm really hoping the wind isn't too bad Saturday since I have 6 miles to do.

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    1. Today was perfect. No wind. But it's coming back this weekend. Boo!

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  25. Fall running is great....if it's not cold and wet, ha ha! I'm really struggling with getting up early in the dark and cold mornings to fit in a run. I much prefer to go for a runch then anything else in the fall - you've got sunshine and a little warmth on your side!

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    1. It's weird how dark it is in the morning now! Fortunately, I don't have to run in the dark.

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  26. Pot of gold! Bahahaha. Gave my treadmill away...so there's that. In my early running days, I'd rely on the water fountain at the park and would sometimes find it was not working. That would always make me so mad! I learned to stash bottles in my 'hood. Looking forward to seeing your frosted eyebrows and eyelashes this year!

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    1. I'm too lazy to stash water bottles before a run! If I'm going long, I'll just carry my handheld.

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  27. Ha! I never thought about all of these challenges, including the bathroom situation! LOL!

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    1. Maybe that wouldn't be a challenge for some people but sadly, it's tops on my list! LOL!

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  28. I was just running today on the trail and realized how many leaves have fallen and covering roots. I was extra cautious with my stepping and my pace showed because that. But I'd rather go slower and not fall on my face. Because I would end up becoming slower anyways if I did end up falling....haha Better safe than sorry!

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    1. I've fallen more on dry pavement than on leaves. I'm such a clutz!

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  29. Can we talk about the trail conditions... so I have a somewhat irrational (or maybe very rational) fear of wiping out on leaf-covered trails. Even if it's just pavement. But I love hiking in the fall because it's so pretty. So how does one get over their fear of falling on their face while trail running when you can't see the rocks and roots? Maybe I'll try it next week... tbd...

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    1. Haha! Glad I"m not the only one with that fear. Once bitten, twice shy,right?

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  30. Although I don't have any water fountains on the trail closest to my house, I just don't understand why they get turned off so early in the season. People are outside and active just as much in the fall as they are over the summer. So frustrating!

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    1. I'm pretty sure they will be turned off after this weekend around here. I was pleasantly surprised to see that you had Buckingham Fountain still functioning for the marathon! It's never been on when I've run it.

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  31. I love the fall running, the cooler temps are the draw the rest of it is fun or varying degrees of fun, I'd much rather be cold and wet than hot and sweaty. Fortunately my weekday route once the regular bathrooms are closed there are porta potties, and even two real bathrooms! I'm lucky and I know it. Even when the cold wind is whipping off the Long Island Sound and the Thames River and my snot is freezing, I know I have access to real bathrooms or porta potties and a drinking fountain about mid run.

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    1. I know where the real restrooms are and I try to plan my cold weather routes around that!

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  32. My challenge this week has been getting out of bed -- there's a crispness in the air that is fantastic for running, but it's also great for snuggling under the covers. :-)

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    1. That and the dark mornings--staying in bed feels so sweet!

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  33. I LOVE fall running but you're right...the extra laundry and the temperamental weather definitely keeps you on your toes! Great tips! I only really use the treadmill as a last resort.

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    1. I don't know if my treadmill is even functioning at this point! I used it once last year and it was having issues.

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  34. The laundry this time of year is insane with the need for so many layers! Drives me crazy!!! And the leaves covering the trails can be so dangerous!!!

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    1. The laundry is definitely my issue! Plus I have rugby laundry which is even worse...

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  35. I swore I would run through the winter last year but dropped off somewhere in early December. I like fall running and am hoping to keep up with it this year.

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    1. I wonder what winter is going to bring this year? Last year was so mild!

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  36. Great post Wendy! When I lived in NY Fall was beautiful, but I did hate the slick leaves that would cover the ground. In Florida Fall is a whole different beast. Sometimes cooler temps 69-70 in the early am, but no leaves....

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