Ranking the Best to Worst Seasons for Running (A midwest perspective)

By: Kyle Markley

As runners, we brave the elements throughout the year to get our miles in. Like the U.S. Postal Service, neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor dark of night can stop us runners from logging our runs. However, we all have our preferences for which season we enjoy running in and this list is my opinion of the order from best to worst season to run in.

1. Fall

Taking home the grand prize for best season is none other than fall. This time of year provides the closest thing to perfect conditions a runner can ask for. The temperature remains relatively mild between 30- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit along with a good mix of sunny and cloudy days that fit any runners’ accommodations. But aside from the weather, fall is also the best for one reason: racing. Fall is almost entirely dedicated to arguably the best sport there is, cross country. Being able to spend your weekends at a cross country course is the best thing about fall. Cross country brings out the competitor in all of us--running through trails, over hills, and through fields in hopes of crossing the finish line in a faster time than last race. Being able to spend Saturday or Sunday morning on a long run, seeing the leaves change color, and the cornfield fields turn to empty pastures throughout harvest time is an experience that can’t be matched by any other season. Fall is the time where records fall and memories are made in competition and on the runs in between. 


Summer is a close second to fall, the season that is filled with watch tans and building base mileage for fall racing. Runners can go out for runs without a worry about the cold weather all while rocking shorts and t-shirts all season long. Another great aspect of running is the local road races throughout the summer. Whether that’s your local 4th of July fun run, the end of summer tune-up before the start of cross-country season, or the after track season last chance race before a break--summer has no shortage of races to compete in. Along with the local road racing circuit, summer is the season of professional races like the Olympic Trials and USA Championships where the best runners from across the country come together to fight for a spot to represent the red, white, and blue on the world stage. All these factors combined make summer the second-best season of the year.


Coming in third is the season of rebirth and rejuvenation, not only in nature, but in running as well. Spring is the time when runners come out of their winter training and burst onto the track scene. The downside of spring is unpredictable weather that consists of cold, rain, sun, snow, and everything in between. Unlike fall where the cooler weather is welcomed after the heat of summer, the warmer weather cannot come soon enough in the spring. Spring brings new hope for the upcoming season, where a runner can begin to focus on goals of outdoor track rather than the dark, cold days of indoor track. But the cold and wet conditions that dwell throughout it make spring not as desirable as summer or fall.


The last and least liked of the four seasons for a runner is winter. Winter is tough for runners due to the ice, darker days, and the cold temperatures. All these factors combined make it difficult for any runner to enjoy the runs, but we always manage to thrive and survive. Throughout winter, runners are often faced with a choice, do they brave the conditions outside or do they spend their time on a treadmill? Winter does have its upside with the start of indoor track season where the winter miles begin to be put to good use running circles around a 200m or 300m track. Winter also brings a time of reset where a runner can focus on miles and building fitness rather than the long season ahead of them. Winter can be tough on runners with its freezing temperatures, icy conditions, and lack of daylight making this season my least favorite. 

Altogether these seasons serve their purpose and have certain roles for running.  Each season brings its highs and lows that runners come to love and hate. This is my ranking for the best seasons for runners, drop in the comments your order!