As a runner, fall is my favorite season of the year. The temperature begins to dip, the air gets crisp, and the trails beautifully transform as the leaves change colors.
Fall is also the perfect season for new runners to start the hobby.
Too often, would-be runners start in January as part of their New Year’s resolutions. The trouble is that by January, most of the Northern Hemisphere is already freezing, and the cold temperatures can quickly kill all motivation.
Every year, the local greenways fill up with new runners and bikers during the first week of January. By the second week, half of them have already disappeared.
These runners are setting themselves up for failure by picking up the hobby at one of the worst possible times of the year.
If you’ve been thinking about getting started with running, don’t put it off until New Year’s Day. Starting in fall instead will lead to all kinds of advantages:
Your Runs Will Rapidly Get Easier
Running can be extremely difficult when you start out. If you’re already in good shape, the transition might not be too hard, but if you’re out of shape like I was, it’ll take some getting used to.
Surprisingly though, running started to feel comfortable much sooner than I expected it to. After just a few weeks, running started feeling easier and my body stopped taking as long to recover after runs.
For the first few months of running, almost every run that I went on was a little bit longer or faster than the one before.
Most new runners experience these quick “newbie gains” as their body adapts to the new exercise. By starting in fall, you can even amplify this effect.
Running is generally easier at moderate temperatures and low humidity. Since the temperature and humidity both steadily decline throughout fall, your runs will naturally get easier.
The combination of “newbie gains” and improved weather will lead to truly rapid improvements in your running speed. You’ll likely see measurable improvements every week throughout the entire season.
There are Plenty of Short Races to Enter
Another advantage to running in the fall is that there are a lot of running events going on.
Since the weather is so nice, you can expect to find clubs becoming more active, more meetups at your local running stores, and a whole slew of cheap races to enter.
The clubs and meetups can be great ways to meet other new runners and find running buddies. Don’t overlook the races either — many new runners swear by them as a form of motivation.
By signing up for a 5k race a month or two in advance, you give yourself a concrete goal to work towards. This can help keep you on track and make you more likely to stick with running.
These days, running is so popular that you can find a 5k at almost any time of year, but fall and spring are still the most active seasons for them. During the fall in my medium-sized city, there are often several 5ks within a single day.
The week of Thanksgiving is a particularly good time to look for a race. Not only are there plenty of options, but the “Turkey Trots” offered at this time of year tend to be both casual and beginner-friendly.
You’ll Be Surrounded By Natural Beauty
Perhaps the best reason of all to start running in the fall is that you’ll be surrounded by nature at its very best.
Here in North Carolina, the leaves have already begun to change, and soon the entire forest will be a patchwork of vibrant colors.
In the fall, each run is a brand new experience, even when you follow the same trail as the day before. The trees and plants are rapidly changing, and the animals are getting in their last few active months before quieting down for the winter.
For birdwatchers like me, the thinning trees also provide great opportunities to spot far more birds than usual.
If you’ve been considering giving running a try, don’t delay another day. Fall provides wonderful running opportunities, and if you start now, you’ll practically be an expert by the time winter rolls around.