With low visibility and slippery surfaces, autumn presents its own set of challenges for runners. Here's everything you need to know about staying warm and dry when running this season.
Many brands release waterproof, and even hi-vis, versions of their most popular running shoes around autumn and winter.
Make sure your running shoes are made from breathable fabrics, with mesh vents on the upper to boost airflow. This allows any moisture to escape your shoes, reducing your risk of blisters as well as wet, soggy feet.
Finding The Right Fit
Well-fitting running shoes will go a long way, so make sure you choose the best for your feet. When you book a gait analysis at your local Runners Need store, an in-store specialist uses video technology to analyse how your feet respond to every step, assessing your biomechanics and running style to ensure you're running in the perfect shoes.
If you're running on trails, ensure you're wearing proper trail running shoes rather than road running shoes. Trail shoes are usually constructed from a no-sew, sock-like, full-piece upper to help protect your foot. They're also specially designed with deeper lugs and a more aggressive tread pattern to grip rugged terrain giving you more stability on slippery surfaces. Plus, they're made from tougher materials, with hidden plates and toe protectors, making them extra protective when you're stepping over rocks and dodging tree roots.
This is one of our most frequently asked questions in autumn and winter and if you want to keep your running shoes in good nick the answer is no. Putting your running shoes through the washing machine can damage the foam that makes up the midsole, reducing its cushioning effect.
Instead, to safely clean your running shoes:
- If possible, remove the insole and laces, and clean in a bowl of lukewarm water with a dash of laundry detergent to remove sweat and dirt.
- Use a light scrubbing brush or old toothbrush to lightly remove dirt and grit from your running shoes.
- Soak your shoes in a bowl of lukewarm water for 5-10 minutes with a dash of laundry detergent.
- Once soaked, gently brush off the mud and dirt before rinsing well in cold water.
- Shake off any excess water before tightly stuffing your shoes with balled newspaper. This will soak up the remaining moisture.
- Allow around 12-24 hours for your shoes to dry naturally. Place them around 2 metres from a radiator, but not directly on a heat source as this can shrink and warp your running shoes.
One of the easiest mistakes to make when running in autumn is wearing too much. Although it's tempting to wrap up warm as you head out the door into the crisp air, by mile 1 you'll probably be overheating.
The key to staying dry and comfortable, whatever the weather, is layering.
Layering the right fabrics will keep moisture away from your body, keeping you at the perfect temperature. Always select sweat-wicking, quick-drying, and breathable kit to help keep you cool and comfortable. Look for mesh ventilation panels for airflow and seamless construction to avoid nasty rubbing. The ultimate benefit to layers is that if you start to feel uncomfortably hot, you can easily remove your jacket or mid-layer and tie it around your waist.
Steer clear of anything cotton. Not only does it trap the heat but it soaks up sweat keeping the moisture against your skin, increasing your chance of chafing.
Layers For Autumn Running
As the layer that sits closest to your skin, your base layer should be seamless and free from buttons, zips, and pockets, and sit closely to your body. This sweat-wicking layer can be a vest, t-shirt, or a long-sleeve top depending on your preference.
Mid-layers for running in colder weather are usually made from lightweight, breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics that keep you warm and comfortable without causing overheating or excessive sweating. Common mid-layer options for runners include fleece jackets, insulated vests, or lightweight thermal tops. A good mid-layer won't make you hot, so look for mesh panels and features such as half zips to give you more temperature control.
Your jacket needs to keep the rain and wind out, so look for waterproof and windproof running jackets.
Features like taped seams and reflectivity are essential. A good waterproof running jacket will still be sweat-wicking and have ventilation to keep it breathable.
Autumn can still be shorts weather unless you tend to get very cold. If you're worried about thigh chafing, go for a 2-in-1 short with a tight inner short and a looser layer over the top for extra coverage.
As for leggings, choose lightweight fabrics. It's unlikely you'll need thermal clothing just yet, despite what it might feel like when you step out the door!
Your underwear on a wet weather run can make all the difference, and we're not just talking bras, this goes for men too! Avoid cotton to reduce your risk of chafing.
When choosing your perfect sports bra, always look for sweat-wicking and breathable fabrics to keep you cool, dry and comfortable.
Running accessories are designed to overcome the challenges runners face when running in a variety of conditions. They're often optimised for comfort and durability, enhancing your performance. Kit such as gloves, hydration belts and hats will support your training, helping you run more efficiently so you can improve and reach your goals.
When it starts to get chilly, your hands and fingers are more prone to getting cold. Try light running gloves to keep the elements out and the warmth in.
A hat is a great way to keep your ears warm as temperatures get cooler. Opt for technical fabrics like fleece to ensure your hat is sweat-wicking and breathable. If you're worried about overheating but don't want cold ears, try a headband instead. A headband will keep your ears warm while still allowing heat to escape your head.
If you're running in poorly lit areas at night such as out on trails or through parks, consider a lightweight running head torch. You'll not only increase visibility for the route ahead but help other road and trail users see you.
Like suncream, your sunglasses need UV protection. Go for sunglasses with grip on the nose to ensure they don't slide down your face when you start to get your sweat on.
You might think suncream is a rogue choice amongst the warm hats and head torches, but if you're out running on a warm autumn day, it's easy to forget that the same UV rays can still damage your skin. Ensure your sun cream or sun block protects against UVA and UVB rays as well as having a high SPF.
It also needs to be waterproof, and ideally windproof. Sweating off your sun cream is not only likely to give you stinging and watering eyes, but it also won't do your skin much good. Sport sunscreens usually contain zinc oxide to provide extra protection regardless of how much you sweat. And don't forget to apply it to your lips too!
Staying hydrated is vital, especially if you're heading out on a long run. From handheld water bottles to hydration belts that sit comfortably around your waist, there are plenty of options to help you carry water while you run.
To help maintain proper hydration and balanced electrolyte levels during and after your run, drinking diluted sports drinks or using hydration tablets will provide your body with the best combination of electrolyte replacement and rehydration to stay cool.
If you run with your phone, ensure your band is waterproof. There's nothing worse than a water-logged phone after a long run in the rain!
As the days get shorter, it's important to stay visible to stay safe, so High-Vis is a must. Whether it's reflective detail on your jacket and shoes, bibs and strips to flashing LED lights. Choose the option you're most comfortable with to make the most out of your autumn runs.