Cold Autumn Weather? Good Reasons to Run Anyway
It was one of those days recently. It was calm, with fog laying over the meadows in front of the house, and later the sun came through—a beautiful Indian Summer Day. I looked yearningly out of the window, while writing into the afternoon. Under no circumstances did I want to miss my workout on such an inviting day, but it was getting late. My running partners, whom I had arranged to meet, were still in the office. They probably had not even seen the sun yet. It was almost time to run.
But as sometimes happens, half an hour before the run thick clouds began forming and suddenly it was getting much colder. Now, a run in the unexpected rain with gusts, puddles, and mud awaited us. My friends and I almost turned around, back into the warmth. But—no, no, not us! This scheduled training session was all too important for everyone. We finished the run and we all felt better afterwards… happy to have pulled it off, even though Mother Nature had surprised us and we were soaking wet, squelching home in heavy, muddy shoes.
Fitness in the Fall
This is often the case in fall. The summer, which invites us to many outdoor activities, is gone. The shorter, wet-cold days of autumn are forcing us to rethink our strategies—warmer clothing, different running trails, changed training times. These frequently test the true degree of our motivation. But we can make sure that we get out the door by telling ourselves that fitness means quality of life, makes us age healthier and live longer. That helps me sometimes.
You cannot blame anyone for not being motivated when looking out the window and seeing rain and wind again. It also gets dark earlier… How do you manage to keep your usual routine?
Please, read the following too: “The Best Ways to Recover after a Marathon.“
Stay Focused to Enjoy the Many Health Benefits
It helps to remember our personal training goals. The New Year’s run you just signed up for, perhaps. Or the extra five pounds that you would like to get rid of before they gain reinforcements during the holiday season. Getting fit in the fall to tackle the beginning of marathon training in January—that is a great goal. Just start, otherwise it will not work.
You will feel better after physical activity, whether it is running, hiking, climbing, tennis, football or strenuous gardening. You can breathe deeper, the stress is out of your head, and your food will taste better afterwards.
The many health benefits speak for themselves: those who exercise physically improve their cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, and sleep. They also enjoy healthier skin, better weight control, and aging with more physical and mental fitness and a strengthened immune system. You cannot ignore these benefits just because it is getting colder outside, and it rains now and then with the wind whistling around you. It’s just autumn!
Go to the Gym
In order to stay healthy in the wind, rain and cold, functional clothing is important. After training you should change out of any wet or sweaty clothes before stretching, doing yoga exercises or hanging out with your workout buddies. Never let yourself get cold, always keep warm. Do not put additional stress on the immune system.
One more tip: Avoid starting to exercise outdoors in too much heavy clothing. Instead, tie a light weather jacket around your hips, which you can put on later as necessary. A performance scarf is a good idea—it protects the neck and you can also pull it over your ears.
Those who run a lot after sunset need reflector stripes on their clothes for their own safety and that of other road users. And if the weather is really bad, the gym is a good alternative. Regular visits there are suggested during this current season. Use as many different training routines as possible: treadmill, weight training, Pilates, aerobics classes, swimming, sauna, yoga, etc. Variety is good for motivation.
Autumn runs are breathtaking, allowing us to experience nature more intensively. On weekends, you might be able to plan your workouts more freely so you can enjoy the autumn hours without deadline pressure and obligation.
When we leave the house we sometimes experience an enchanting, almost mystical atmosphere: the fog in the morning, the smell of harvested fields, the rich-colored leaves around us, the bare trees looming like silent giants, bird flocks heading south.
Stay tuned, stay fit! Even now in this season full of variety and the colors of fall.
Adapted from my column „Motivationsprobleme? Gute Gründe, dennoch zu laufen“ in “DIE WELT” with permission.
*Uta Pippig, 52, is one of the most successful female marathon runners of the ’90s, a three-time champion of the marathons in Boston and Berlin and winner of the NYC Marathon. She is currently a writer and public speaker for “Take The Magic Step®” and “Running to Freedom™” and is also a columnist for the German daily newspaper “DIE WELT.”
Uta lives in Berlin, Germany, and in Boulder, Colorado, and with her organization “Take The Magic Step®” she commits herself to increasing people’s awareness in the areas of fitness, nutrition and health.