Fall is my favorite season of the year.
I am a cooler weather runner, and if you have ever seen me running around or a picture of me post-run you may realize why. As a heavy sweater, running in warmer temps is the worst. When the temperature and the dew point are high the more miserable, I am on the run.
When I am not injured (a very important qualifier here), I do not let my hatred for heat get in the way of summer training. Normally I just complain all the way through it, but what makes it worth it is that first true fall day when the air is cool and crisp and running in shorts and a tank top are at their peak comfortability.
* Yes, I tend to run in shorts year-round. There might be a few days a year when the temperature is cold enough when I will put on a pair of tights.
To me, fall is a great time to fall in love with running, and not just because of the temperatures or even the beautiful sights of leaves changing colors. Beyond all that, fall is one of the most active times in your local running community. Find a calendar of local running events, and you will see that every weekend there is probably at least one race/community running event being offered.
Now, I get it, as a new runner you are probably not ready to race, but stick with me for a moment.
“Races” these days are community-running events. Most races are more than just the run themselves, but they often have parties or hangouts attached to them, and time to meet others who are runners in the community. You do not need to out there setting world records or even personal bests. The thing I love about many of these races is just the opportunity to hang out with other runners in the area.
Coming off a horrendous summer on the run, I entered 2 late summer events.
* Now to be clear these would be summer as both were in September, but I want to accentuate the point of community in the midst of growing as a runner.
After being out of running for six weeks and having difficulties getting my running going again with some tendinitis and some mental hurdles, I saw these races as opportunities to have a good time. My goal was to finish the race, I had a time in mind that I thought would be nice (times no where near any of my personal bests) but I only held myself to participating and finishing. This freed me to enjoy these races from a different perspective than normal.
Normally when I would step to the starting line, I would be laser-focused on what I was about to do. This was because normally a starting line was an opportunity to show my best. This is not a bad mindset, but it sometimes gets in the way of the true communal sentiment that these races can provide. Obviously if you are spending money on these races, you want it to be worth it but find yourself also considering that it might be something aside from personal bests that have brought you to the starting line.
These two starting lines, the J&A Virginia Beach 5K and the CHAS Foundation 5K, were entered for the sheer enjoyment of wanting to be on the run with the greater Hampton Roads running community, and neither race disappointed. I finished both races about the same time in each, but along the way I found myself cheering hard for people I knew as I saw them on the course. I found myself cheering after I crossed the finish line for folks working towards their goals. I found myself engaging with folks at the finish, inquiring about their performance, their goals, and how they were feeling. I got to talk to others about community and what our hopes were for the Hampton Roads running community.
These two races were two weeks apart, but now that we are into fall, these types of races are every week it seems. You can have larger scale races one weekend, and then a fun run for a charity the next week, with a local run club race one the third weekend. Whether you are training for a goal race or want to dip your tow into running, fall is an amazing time to do it, because there are so many opportunities.