7 Nov

Autumn Running

Autumn leaves

We're entering the later stages of autumn but I'm still relishing what is my favourite time for running (writes Chris Broadbent). There is an extra freshness in the air and layers of leaves scatter the ground. There isn't the risk of icy winter roads or searing summer temperatures to sap your energies.

Although given the 2012 British summer, the latter problem wasn't one that bothered us much. You can just about get away with shorts during autumn and not have to worry about wrapping up too much, yet the air is still cool enough to enable you not to over-heat and dehydrate.

For many marathon runners, autumn is a peak season for racing. Most of the major overseas city marathons take place in October and November and thousands of British runners fly out to Chicago, Amsterdam and Berlin to take part in these atmosphere-charged events.

But for those runners not taking in a race, autumn is a great time to experiment a little and vary the training regime. Particularly in terms of where you run. For those lucky enough to live by the coast, it can be invigorating to run along the beach during autumn, the waves seem to crash in that bit louder on cold sand.

It can be hard work running on the sand, but there are tremendous benefits for your lower leg and feet muscles as they are given a real work-out without suffering from the high-impact buffering they usually receive on concrete or tarmac. For a similar reason it is great to get out into the British countryside during autumn. Trail running can be fantastically rewarding. The scenery is brilliant with the trees at their most colourful. The ground also has that little bit of extra give about it and the odd puddle or boggy area can add a little variety to your run.

With the added bonus of less people out and about, you can really enjoy the solitude of it all. For those who have only ever raced on the roads, Autumn presents the opportunity to experiment a little with off-road running and possibly even racing. Winter sees a glut of cross country, trail and off-road events on the race calendar.

Taking part in these events is a good way to maintain goals during through autumn and winter without having the pressure of aiming for times and chasing PBs. There is no such thing as PBs off-road, it is just about racing, having fun and getting fit.

With a busy autumn, you can really set yourself up with a great fitness base for the following year and a fresh crack at some fast times on the road. So, there's no excuse, lace up and get yourself out there this autumn.