It’s that time of the year, the leaves are changing colors, the weather is getting cooler and people are trading in their tank tops for long sleeves. This is the best time to be a runner, the weather is just right and it makes you want to jump up and head outdoors.
There are tons of things to keep in mind while transitioning from hot weather runs to cooler runs. For instance, it’s important to warm up your muscles because they tend to tighten up more quickly in cooler weather.
It also tends to get darker faster in the cooler months; therefore it’s important to dress accordingly. Wear reflective gear and accessories to stay safe and dress in layers, you may start your workout a bit cold, but as time goes on your body will warm up. Wearing layers gives you the freedom to take off some of your clothes when your body starts to heat up.
Jackie Palmer Merritt, Milestone Sports endurance athlete, has complied a few tips to help you transition into cool weather running.
1. Take advantage of cooler weather with longer runs
With the days of 90+ degrees mostly behind us, we can take advantage of the milder temperatures and spend a longer time running outside. When you don’t have to worry about overheating under the hot summer sun, you can extend your runs and improve your times—but don’t underestimate the amount of hydration you’ll need on those longer runs! Your sweat rate does not actually change in cooler temperatures.
2. Adjust your stretching routine
Cooler weather changes the pre-run routine. In warmer weather, you might start with some dynamic stretches and then get right into your run, whereas in the winter it’s important to add walking or a slow jog to your routine to warm up your muscles. When it comes to dynamic stretching, try exercises like spider-man lunges, opposite heel-arm kicks and caterpillar walks. If you feel warmed up before you start, it will help motivate you to get out the door. Muscles tighten more quickly in cooler weather which makes you more prone to injury—so don’t slack on the warm-up!
3. Don’t overdress
Fall weather is often unpredictable, so you don’t want to be caught with too little or too much clothing. Overdressing is probably more common than underdressing in the fall. A good indicator is if you feel chilly at the start of your run, you went out in the perfect attire. Avoid cotton since cold wind can cut right through sweaty cotton. Wear lighter tech materials that dry fast to ensure a pleasant run in the later miles.
4. Keep your shoes up to date
If you’re training for a fall marathon or half marathon, now is a good time to plan when you are going to switch to new shoes. You do not want to go into race day with shoes that are too old as it increases your risk for injury because of a higher rate of impact from broken down midsole foam. You also don’t want to go into race day with brand news shoes. Plan to get some miles in the new shoes before the race. A great resource for runners is the MilestonePod. The device tracks the mileage on your running shoes along with a slew of other run statistics like foot strike and cadence. I love watching the shoe odometer feature and the rate of impact metric so I know exactly when to replace my shoes. You don’t have to make any guesses about when it’s time to get a new pair—with MilestonePod you’ll know the perfect moment to run to the shoe store!
5. Stay safe in the dark
Daylight Savings Time ends on November 6, so runners should either change the time of their nightly run or adjust their gear to stay visible to traffic, cyclists and other people on the path. Pick clothing and accessories that are meant for nighttime running. Look for fluorescent and reflective clothing that can be seen when light is shining on you and when it’s not. Keep in mind the rules of the road for runners and run against traffic!
Special thanks to Jackie Palmer Merritt, Milestone Sports endurance athlete. Jackie is a 28-year-old ultra-runner, based out of Atlanta, GA. Not only is she a top finishing ultra-runner, she also holds a PhD in biomechanics and physical therapy.