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Marathon runners on why autumn is the best time to start running

Always fancied yourself a runner, but never known when to start? Now is the perfect time, writes Imy Brighty Potts.

The cooler weather is the perfect time to pull on those trainers (Alamy/PA)

Whether you have fallen out of love with running, or have always been curious about giving it a go, finding the right time to start can feel like the biggest obstacle to getting going.

With the heat of summer behind us, and winter not fully on our doorstep yet, autumn could be ideal. Here, seasoned marathon runners share why right now is the best time to get into jogging…

The weather is ideal

Instinctively, you may feel it’s not the best time to start training as the weather begins to get colder and wetter, and the days get shorter.

“However, the cooler temperatures can offer a range of benefits,” says Tahir Shams, founder of Tooting Run Club, who ran the 2023 TCS London Marathon.

These include a “reduced risk of overheating and dehydration, and it supports increased endurance which is vital for longer runs”, Shams adds.

Autumn training brings opportunities for different kit and environments, too. Marathoner and Human Disco Ball fundraiser Freya Morgan enjoys the change of weather.

“I get to leave behind the sticky summer weather and busy parks and go back to fresh morning runs right as the sun rises,” explains Morgan, who recently completed a 200km run for Bail for Immigration Detainees.

“In the autumn, I might still head out in a T-shirt and then as the weather gets colder, a long-sleeved layer, and then will take another long-sleeved top or jacket with me, and tie it around my waist or cram it into my hydration pack,” she adds.

Kit could be cheaper

Autumn could be a good time to plan ahead and get the kit you like (Alamy/PA)

Exercise kit is at its most expensive generally in January, when everyone and their mum is trying to tackle a new fitness goal! Getting in there a bit earlier and snapping up some end-of-season summer gear that’s on sale, before the new season’s clothing and shoes come in, may help you build a running wardrobe you love. If you look good, you feel good, after all.

The race calendar

If singing up for a race will help keep you motivated to keep running, starting in autumn could put you in a good position to take on a challenge in spring. Plenty of races happen as the seasons change from the cool of winter, with the London, Tokyo and Paris marathons all taking place in spring.

Half marathons take place in cities across the UK in spring too, in locations from London to Inverness. Plus you’ll find plenty of 5k and 10k options.

Creating a mood-boosting routine

“In September, kids go back to school and the summer is over, so it is a kickstart for your health and fitness goals,” explains Ania Gabb, an ASICS Frontrunner who has completed more than 30 marathons.

“Many people may want to get into a consistent fitness routine after the excess of summer and before the winter starts,” she notes.

Autumn is a great time to establish a mood-boosting routine before winter (Alamy/PA)

This can be especially important ahead of the dark days of winter, which as Shams notes, “can often feel like a gloomy time of the year… Endorphins released during running is a good way to banish the winter blues.”

There’s less pressure than January

Finally, it can particularly helpful for beginners to start in autumn – skipping the pressure of the new year.

“If you are a beginner, autumn is a really nice time of year to pick up running. You are away from the pressure of January resolutions, and the crowds of the summer, and still have some fair weather days and sunlight to get you motivated,” says Morgan.

“By the time the darker bits of winter roll around, you will hopefully be in enough of a running routine to use those runs to power through the dark and soggy days. I have been running for 11 years and when my mental health dips, running has always helped.”


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