Don’t let shorter days darken your running fun

Members of the Bucks County Roadrunners keep the starting time at 6 p.m. year-round for their weekly run on Tuesday nights.

      We sort of take for granted the benefits of running in daylight at the start or end of our busy weekdays.

      There are sights to see and hazards to avoid. The sun provides us with warmth, with a sense of promise that there are still hours of bright illumination before nightfall closes in.

      But as we all know, the semi-annual time change for the fall-winter calendar is coming up shortly – Sunday to be exact – and some considerations should be made for striding in the dark.

      By December 21, the first day of winter, the daylight hours will be down to just over nine. The sun comes up at 7:19 and goes down abruptly at 4:37. That’s barely nine hours.

      So if you work, go to school or have other obligations, you probably already know how to squeeze in a jaunt under a full moon without too much fuss.

      Just to be safe, here are a few reminders:

      >1. *Choose your route carefully:* It’s not a bad idea to stay off the roads as much as possible. With cellphones and the like, now more than ever there are enough distractions for motorists. Sidewalks are not a bad thing, well-groomed trails or athletic fields are even better.

      >2. *Wear bright, reflective clothing:* If you must run on roads, let motorists know where you are. Headlights shine best on bright colors, including safety vests, belts, harnesses, arm bands and wrist straps.

      >3. *Powerful light on your hat, shoes or belt:* Not only will this illuminate a trail (and its danger spots) but also warn automobile drivers that you are nearby.

      >4. *Stay off the phone and keep earphone use to a minimum:* I know, I know, there are “important” calls to make and music to listen to. But you want to be able to pick noises around you, be it a car or a pedestrian.

      >5. *Two’s company, three’s even better:* As they always say, there’s safety in numbers. More lights, more sound help announce your presence. And if you own a dog, bring him or her along, too. They can probably spot trouble better than you can.

      >6. *Let someone know where you’re going:* Just on the slight chance there is a mishap, you want someone to check on you if you’re not back at your approximate return time.

      >7. *Bad weather considerations:* In winter, running on bad surfaces is challenging enough. If there’s additional frozen moisture on the ground, head for the treadmill in the basement, or do a little cross-training like swimming or tennis.

      >8. *Carry some identification:* Put a business card in your pocket with an emergency contact phone number on the back.

      >9. *Self-defense stuff just in case:* Again, there’s a very slim chance of danger lurking in the weeds, but why risk it. If you’re going into an unfamiliar area, carry something like pepper spray as a precaution.

      >10. *Slow but steady:* There’s no need to set personal speed records on that 6 a.m. or 6 p.m. training run. Unless you’re putting in some miles in a controlled environment, like maybe a high school track, just keep a steady pace and save the fast stuff for the weekends.

      Most of all, make the best of this trying situation. There’s nothing quite like a clear late afternoon/early evening winter run with the stars out and your heart racing as you move along a trail in a neighborhood park.

      >Race calendar

      Friday

      Race the Course 10K/5K/1-mile, 4:30 p.m., Lower Makefield. Contact www.raceentry.com

      Saturday

      Brad Fox Memorial 5K, 10 a.m., Plymouth-Whitemarsh. Contact www.runsignup.com

      Langhorne-American Legion Veterans Day 5K, 9 a.m., Langhorne. Contact www.runsignup.com

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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.