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HEALTHY LIVING: 5 tips for running a road race in the fall

HEALTHY LIVING: 5 tips for running a road race in the fall

Many runners look forward to race days in the fall because of cooler temperatures and scenic foliage. While transitioning out of summer, and then into winter, fall weather conditions vary greatly. 

The 40th Annual Apple Harvest Race in Southington will take place on October 4th and offers a variety of events for both adults and children to participate in. Whether you want to run or walk in a road race this fall, it’s important to be prepared. I recently talked to Denise Bowen, a trainer at the Wallingford YMCA and WITS (World Instructor Training School) certified personal trainer of 9 years, about tips for training for the Apple Harvest race, and other seasonal races.

Warm up thoroughly

During the Fall, drops in temperature can cause the muscles to be tighter than usual. Hamstring, quad, and calf stretches, are some examples of essential static stretches that keep the muscles nimble. 

“Run soft on the toes” Bowen said. “Focus on the motion of running, softly on the toes. Not flat footed pounding, it will really hurt the knees and the hips.”

Dynamic stretches are also very important to incorporate into your warm-up routine. This type of stretching involves keeping the body in motion. Leg swings, high-knees, and skipping are all beneficial movements for runners.

Use applications

Applications that use Geographical Positioning Systems (GPS) are useful tools for checking the weather. Since the weather can change quickly, it’s important to check the it multiple times throughout the day as you prepare for a long-distance run. 

Use a map to assess the terrain of the road race you’ve entered so that you are able to plan your training sessions accordingly. There are also a variety of applications that are designed specifically for runners to track mileage and lap time during a training session.

Train in a variety of conditions

To adequately prepare for race day, make sure to schedule runs at different times of the day. Train at dawn, when the sunlight is rapidly shifting and, in the afternoon, when the sun is high. Also, as the days get shorter, be prepared to run at dusk if your race is later in the day.

“Focus on the aspect of enjoyment. If you experience any pain, stop and don’t try to run through it,” Bowen said. 

Make it a point to schedule training sessions on warm, cool, dry, and rainy days so that you’re ready to run on race day no matter what the conditions are. 

Wear protective gear

While the weather may be mild, it is still important to protect the skin from sun exposure throughout the Fall. Runners should wear hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses to prevent sunburn. Many sports equipment stores sell clothing that is sun protectant. 

On damp days, skin should not be exposed to the air as this may cause chaffing or skin irritation. 

Compression socks help runners to maintain blood flow throughout their lower extremities and may make running long distances more comfortable.

Dress in layers

It may not be hot when you begin a run in the morning, but temperatures could rise over the course of the day which is why dressing in layers is ideal. 

Conversely, even if it is a warm day, prepare for a Fall chill in the form of brisk winds. Also, remember that when the perspiration on your skin is exposed to the air, you may feel cold.

For more information about the Apple Harvest Race in Southington, visit

Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris–