By Genevieve Comar

As the leaves begin to change colors, falling in tune with the dying notes of summer, you might be noticing something else besides crunchy leaves on the sidewalk. Runners everywhere–jogging around every corner, sprinting down every straightaway, stretching at every intersection. You’ve seen them out before, but now that the wind has a crisp bite to it, even more have emerged from summer slumber.

Fall is the season of running. There are people getting into the grind of training for the major marathons that occur later in the season such as the Akron Marathon. There’s also a plethora of local 5ks happening every weekend this fall in Cleveland. And of course we can’t forget those who simply run for the joy of it, with no upcoming race or competition in mind. 

There are many benefits to running, and I encourage anyone who is considering trying it out to go for it! There’s no better time to start running than in fall. The temperatures are now bearable (no more sizzling summer jogs anymore) and the scenery is beautiful. It’s also a great way to get your blood pumping as walks and summer sports are winding down. Personally, there is nothing better than feeling the crisp wind numbing my cheeks as I run along streets cloaked in foliage. The vibrant reds, oranges and soft yellows blur together while the cold air burns my lungs–it’s one of the times when I feel most alive. Running is an easy and accessible way to be outside and enjoy the fall weather–and get some heart-healthy exercise while you’re at it!

Here are a few tips worth looking at before starting:

  1. Get a good pair of running shoes! They’re just about the only thing you need before you start running. It’s often best to go to a local running store as they are very knowledgeable and can fit you with a pair that works best for your intensity and your feet. A good rule of thumb is to replace them every 300-500 miles (or about 2-4 times a year depending on your mileage), as the cushion and foam will begin to break down and stiffen up. Make sure you don’t put them in the dryer if they get dirty–this can also damage the shoe structure and foam cushioning. Instead, stuff them with newspaper and set them out to dry overnight.  

Here are some local running stores to check out. Many of these stores will offer a discount to student-athletes. 

Second Sole 

Fleet Feet

Vertical Runner

  1. Start out slow. It’s important not to increase your mileage too much, especially if it is your first time running. It is easy to injure yourself if you aren’t careful. It’s often best to start off running a couple times a week, keeping the mileage low before slowly increasing it (by 20% is usually a good increment). As you increase, you can begin to spread it out over more runs throughout the week. However, it is crucial to have a rest day somewhere in there–running is a high impact sport and the constant pounding puts a lot of strain on muscles and bones. It’s a good idea to switch up the surfaces you run on as well. The harder the road, the more stress your body will have to absorb. Concrete is usually the hardest, followed by asphalt, trails, and then grass. If you find your legs being more tired or sore than usual, try running on trails or grass, since they will absorb more impact, taking it away from your body. Trail running is often a nice break from the same-old routes and a great way to spend time in nature. I often do my long runs on trails and they’re my favorite part of the week. 

Here a few places around Cleveland that are great for trail running:

North Chagrin Reservation (or any of the metroparks around Cleveland are great!)

Erie Canal Towpath

And there are often many other, more local trails to check out near you! Shaker Heights especially has the Shaker Lakes trails that go from Horseshoe Park all the way past Lower Shaker Lake, as well as the Shaker Trail which is a roughly 3 mile long paved path that travels from Warrensville Center Road to Brainard Road in Beachwood. 

  1. Be patient with yourself. Everyone runs different paces and mileage, some people more than others, but that doesn’t make you any less of a runner! What matters is that you’re out there, giving it your all. We all start from different places and levels of experience–some people have been running their whole lives while for others they’re still trying to get through their first week. Getting caught up in comparison and beating yourself up about your pace won’t make you any faster. It’s hard not to get caught in that pattern of thinking, but the bottom line is, if you run, then you’re a runner, no matter how fast or slow, how often or how much. The running community is always happy to welcome another runner to the family! 
  1. Try to run with a goal in mind. It’s often easier to motivate yourself to get out there when you have a concrete goal you’re working towards. Signing up for a local 5k is a great way to push yourself to get out there. Race day can be nerve-wracking, but you’ll never forget the feeling of crossing your first finish line–it makes all the pain and miles worth it. 

Here are a few local races happening in the next couple of months:

October 22: Gourdy’s Pumpkin Run

November 24: Cleveland Turkey Trot

December 8: Reindeer Run

December 11: Jingle Bell Run

And of course, we can’t forget HB’s annual Carnival 5k every April, the proceeds of which will support a charity of the senior class’s choice! 

  1. Have fun! Above all, running is meant to be an enjoyable way to get your body moving and spending time outside. So lace up, get out there, and join the millions of people who share the same love for running that you soon will!