Rambling Roads: February Weather

By George A. Hancock

February’s 2022 run began on a Tuesday, with 28 days devoted to outside wintry excursions. February is winter’s last full month, and March 1 begins meteorological spring. Of course, the running crowd may still face wintry weather into May.

We live in perplexing times. Current weather patterns are fickle. Locally, our winter season grows mild. 2022 marks my 49th year as an active road runner. Our winter season is mild compared to those witnessed in the 1970s.

Now, folks in other parts of our vast country would argue that point. Destructive storms created havoc in many regions. This weather ran the gamut of snowstorms to torrential rains and flooding to costly wildfires and deadly tornadoes. Individuals, including runners, must remain weather aware. Running along the road in areas savaged by flash flooding is never wise. A runner on foot can easily be swept away. Weather awareness helps prevents these tragic situations.

February’s weather is enhanced by one illuminating point. Daylight continues a glorious growth pattern across February. Sunrise on February’s first day happens at 7:24 a.m. Sunset that day is at 5:34 p.m. This means outdoor enthusiasts see ten hours and nine daylight minutes.

February 28 finds sunrise at 6:50 a.m. Later on, sunset occurs at 6:05 p.m. The eleven hours and fifteen daylight minutes are most welcome. Running on clear mornings generally finds decent daylight 15 to 20 minutes before that official sunrise. Running in that growing dim daylight is great.

This daylight growth trend continues into March. However, there is that speed bump on Sunday, March 13. Daylight Saving Time or D.S.T. begins early that Sunday morning. This means an hour more evening daylight but an hour darker on the morning run. It usually takes about four weeks for my morning run to see decent daylight again. I’m used to this D.S.T. change. I adapt and run on.

February 2021 was my winter season. Despite just 28 days Mother Nature packed a season’s worth of wintry weather into that month. Mid-February was a delight to cold-weather sports people. Cold temperatures, snowstorms, and icy roads greeted this morning runner. I can handle several weeks of wintry weather. It’s another story when winter begins in November and continues on from that point.

A few runners ask me why I write so much about the weather. The answer is simple. Running is such a physical act. Most people run outside. The biggest influence on any run is Mother Nature. The weather enhances or cripples the daily run. These days weather can go from nice to life- threatening in a heartbeat. Thus, my reason for writing so much about the weather. In my view, weather has the biggest impact on our run.

February at one time was an intriguing month for this writer. Few runners in the ’70s raced year-round. Few runners raced every weekend back then. The goal was running a fast time on a certain course. Runners trained well. Mileage and speed work along with other techniques were religiously followed. These also worked well.

One technique nearly every runner adhered to was called base training. Base training was a simple concept. This practice usually began in December and continued into January and February. Runners ran every day at a steady pace. There were no races or speed training until the weather broke in late February. Hill work was OK since most runners lived in or near hilly regions anyway. 

Later on, some critics stated this base training was filled with long slow miles. This LSD training or long slow distance work was ridiculed by a few. Despite the point this training method worked well for numerous runners. Perhaps if one was an elite runner, then maybe another training method was better suited to their training goals.

Anyway, February was an interesting month because race schedules and entry forms appeared. Many communities jumped on the road-race bandwagon with their own special 10K run. The 10K race was the standard distance for a long time.

Locally, Dave Mapes began compiling a comprehensive road-race schedule. Mapes was, for decades, the only local road race timer and finish-line person. His first local road-race schedule was published in 1996. Later on, the schedule went digital.

Today, local runner Dean Banko creates and publishes a master list of regional road races. His schedule is a great tool for the racing runners. Plus, this schedule appears on Facebook allowing individuals to share with even more individuals. 

I stopped racing in 2017. Yet, I still scan those race schedules. Several herniated back discs created running issues for me. So, I ran seven 2017 races in order to reach the 500 career race mark. The worst disc was operated on in 2018. I recovered well and quickly. However, another disc was bad. It flairs up from time to time. So far, surgery is not needed. I just back off the mileage.

I’m running 30 miles a week everyday, outside in the weather. I’m out running every morning before dawn. Racing is a distant memory. I’m happy with my daily running program. I occasionally encounter another runner experiencing those same “continue racing after injury or retire from racing” thoughts. I offer my opinion, advice, and thoughts.

2022 is my fifth year away from road racing. My decision was easy. I learned the run continues. Run well, run smart!

Running in February

Categories: Features

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