Dress Rehearsal for Fall
By Don Otis –
The summer is over and that’s good news for some of us and bad news for others. It’s time for gathering wood in the northern climes, battening down the hatches, and checking for air leaks around doors and windows. The cooler months of fall can be the best time for fitness. You aren’t battling exhaust fumes, heat, or bicyclists. As the leaves fall with the temperatures, it’s time to get outside. The autumn months are also a season to plan races—5 or 10 kilometers or further.
The cool air is invigorating and I always feel better after coming back from a run when it is cool. It is tempting to stay indoors but if the elements permit, get outside. Through the years I have run in just about every type of weather- –wind, rain, snow, hail. The key to enjoying your outdoor experience is dressing properly. The cooler it is, the more important it is to wear a hat and gloves, and an outer shell you can zip down if you get too hot. As a lifelong runner, I like the light polypropylene mittens which cost next to nothing. Most fitness stores will sell nicer gloves but you don’t need them. I learned the hard way during the Boise Marathon a few years back that cotton gloves don’t do well in the rain! If you know it is a dry day, but a bit cool, cotton gloves from your local hardware store work fine.
During a mud-slog half marathon in southern California this spring, I had the right gloves for the rain and cold and it made the difference against the driving rain and wind. Aside from slushy, wet snow (I won’t run in it), my least favorite condition is wind. Since I grew up where the Santa Ana winds blow in California, I came to loathe the headwinds. During the Snake River Half Marathon several years ago, we went out with the wind at our backs on a turn-around course. Yes, our pace was fast but I knew in the back of my mind that as soon as we turned around, the headwinds would be brutal, and they were!
In most of North America, fall is the relative calm before the storm of winter. Embrace the former while preparing for the latter. If you don’t have adequate clothing, invest in some for the cooler days. A hat can serve several purposes, to keep the sun from blinding you and for keeping your head warm and dry. If you sweat a lot like I do, a hat will keep you from losing too much heat. Likewise, if you tend to wear shorts, purchase some sweats or long runner’s tights. If your shoes get wet during a run, make sure you pull out the inserts and let them dry before the next outing. Better yet, rotate shoes—which means you need two or more pair.
I realize that when Jesus and His disciples were walking between the Galilee and Jerusalem or down to Jericho, they didn’t have Nikes. They probably used leather sandals even in the winter months. And yes, it snows in Jerusalem. We live in an age where comfort is preeminent. The least little heat, and on goes our air conditioning. The least nip in the room, and on goes the heat. Our bodies can, and do, adapt to the temperature and environment if we allow it. The cooler the temperature, the harder your body works to keep itself warm—which means burning calories by not turning on as much heat.
Whatever the temperature where you live, have a “dress rehearsal” for fall and choose your clothes carefully so you can exercise in comfort.
Don S. Otis is a certified Fitness Trainer and author of Keeping Fit after Forty. He is the president of Veritas Communications -www.veritasincorporated.com.