Rambling Roads: December Thoughts

By George A. Hancock

Meteorological winter begins on Tuesday, December 1. This weather-record time span runs through February 28, 2021. Weather scientists and meteorologists record all winter weather activity and data during these dates.

Traditionalists, which include most folks, regard winter’s beginning on the Monday, December 21 Winter Solstice. December has ushered in the next season. Our task is to prepare for and embrace winter’s unsettled weather patterns.

December is our darkest running month; our December days are daylight challenged. This morning-runner begins and ends his morning jaunt in the quiet dark. Thankfully, December’s final days are encouraging. Daylight begins to lengthen after the Winter Solstice.

So many folks, too many folks, hibernate now. December’s dark is not appealing. December’s seasonal cold is troublesome. So, the couch-potato illness prevails. This is frequently a fatal mistake.

Movement, any movement like running or walking year-round, is the preferred mode. Winter running is possible, enjoyable, and do-able by nearly everyone.

First, the proper mindset is required. Realizing a safe winter run is possible and is the first hurdle. Getting outside properly dressed for the weather while wearing reflective safety gear is a key step.

There are many great hand-held lights that illuminate our running paths. These are lightweight and affordable.

A good winter running shoe is a must. Trail shoes are a good choice here. Many runners, including this runner, use ice and snow spikes to further insure adequate traction. Hex screws are another terrific choice. These are available in any hardware or home-improvement store. Google running-shoe spikes for excellent how-to videos and instructions.

I’ve run in ice and snow spikes for over 10 years. My local running routes are not always treated before my morning run. My snow and ice spike shoes permit a safe morning journey.

Yet, many recent December runs were in milder weather. The recent Greater Johnstown winter seasons were milder. Running in my regular running shoes was common, although several years ago I switched to trail shoes for this wintry season. Winter weather is always fickle. A sudden snowstorm is endured safely with trail shoes providing excellent traction.

Balmy December running weather is always a nice treat. December morning runs in shorts is not uncommon these days. Temperatures in the mid to upper 50s are growing common. Plus, temperatures in the mid- to upper 40s are great compared to cold runs below 20 degrees.

Veteran road runners recall the base training phrase from their younger days. Base training is a simple concept. It means that during the December, January, and February time frame runners would cease road racing. The daily runs were devoted to healing and increasing the mile base with long easy runs.

Today, there are races year-round. Many runners are attracted to these running events which feature attractive race swag. This constant racing does not permit sufficient healing nor downtime.

Yet, so many do not follow this thought train. Running for a fast time is not the goal. Nor is racing hard for a high finish. The accepted goal is running the distance from start to finish. And, this is a decent goal.

Perhaps, as what is true in so many instances today, the standard back then just doesn’t go well with today’s realities. Plus, every runner is different. Our world today has so many more caveats. This means there are more speed bumps, hurdles, distractions, and pot holes compared to past years. Road running for me was an easy peaceful feeling back in the ’70s and ’80s.

There is one December running point that we can agree upon. The numerous Christmas displays add fantastic light to our darker running routes.

Twinkling, bright colorful light displays illuminate our running paths. This extra light is welcome during December’s daylight-challenged days. The displays are eye pleasing and functional. Functional in the sense that more light is added to our darker outside venues.

Running along the cold December roads viewing those colorful Christmas displays is a seasonal treat. Many folks go out of their way creating grand displays. These displays help replace our dwindling daylight hours.

We begin the upward daylight tick after the Winter Solstice. Our daylight minutes increase as we move forward into the New Year. This daylight increase is readily noticeable on our mid-January runs.

Covid-19 is on the upswing as of this writing. Stay safe. Run smart.

Merry Christmas from Greater Johnstown!

Categories: Features

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