Wait! What’s this? This was deserving of a serious double-take. Last week, the U.S. Senate passed something called the “Sunshine Protection Act” — by unanimous consent!
Unanimous! That means EVERYBODY agreed on something? In 2022? Amazing!
OK. So. What’s this got to do with running? Well, a lot, actually.
This new bill, if eventually signed into law — it still has to clear the House of Representatives and the president … but geez, if the entire Senate can agree, it sure does look good, doesn’t it? — will make daylight saving time permanent. This means that in the future, there will be no “fall back” and “spring ahead” with the clocks by one hour.
And really, what this means is that for much of the year, the pre-dawn and early morning hours just got longer and darker. Now, of course, there is still 24 hours in a day, and the hours and minutes of sunlight in a given day/week/month do not change from year to year. But the way those daylight hours are structured and configured is about to be changed.
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If you like more daylight in the late afternoon and early evening, this new legislation will make you happy. If you like more daylight in the early-morning hours, this is literally gloom and doom.
Many adult runners — non-students who work full-time jobs or who have days that are otherwise fully occupied — have to wedge in their training in the early morning or the early evening, around their busy lives. Oh sure, some do get to squeeze in a run or exercise at lunch time midday. But for most of us, it’s either the early morning or the late afternoon.
As mentioned in previous columns, my running group — the Hyde Park Early Birds — meets several times per week at 5:30 a.m. For more than half the year, this means most, if not all, of our runs are in the dark, illuminated only by headlamps, street lights and occasionally the light of the moon.
With this new legislation, early-morning joggers like us will be plunged into completely dark runs for about seven months — from late September through late April. More significantly, many school-age children will be waiting at bus stops and/or walking to school in morning darkness for several winter months.
The flipside? Afternoon and early-evening runs will be brighter for longer, for more of the year. There are many other social benefits to longer hours of daylight later in the day. I’m not smart enough to sort all of those out; the focus here is on its impact on early-morning and early-evening running.
This was a discussion topic on one of our runs last week. The idea of several months in which the runs will start and finish in darkness was not well-received by our group. When a little daylight starts peeking out toward the end of the runs in late winter/early spring, it’s a sign of hope. With this new legislation, that hope will be pushed back a few weeks now.
It’s funny how each and every year, we have talked about the amount of daylight in the morning, like it’s some novel occurrence. Well, now, this well-worn (and sometimes boring) topic has extra relevance. Important people are discussing it, voting on it, and even AGREEING on it!
What are your thoughts about this? My guess: If you’re an early-morning exerciser, you’re not a fan. If you’re a late-afternoon exerciser, this gives you a sunnier disposition.
Thanks to loyal reader Art Boyko of Pleasant Valley for his thoughts on treadmill running. He emailed me his thoughts on a snowy, late-winter day, a few weeks ago. Here’s what he had to say:
“I love the treadmill for three main reasons:
"1. Interval work: When preparing for a specific race, you set your own pace and as I always say ‘You either keep the pace or fall off the treadmill.’
"2. Convenience: You have an unlimited supply of nutrition and total access to a bathroom if needed. You also get to wear what you want with the climate controlled in your basement or gym.
"3. Mental training: If you are getting ready for a longer race, say an Ironman or Half Ironman, and you can survive a long and boring treadmill run looking at the same scenery for a couple hours, then you can handle the potential boredom of a long race.
"I don't broadcast this often since most people think it's a crazy idea, but a few years ago when training for a spring marathon and I had a long run planned but the weather didn't cooperate, I did a 22-mile treadmill run. Super boring, but a great sense of accomplishment after finishing it.”
Thank you, Art, for your thoughts. And, no need to be self-conscious about a 22-miler on the treadmill; there have been marathon and ultra-marathon runs (and records set!) on the treadmill.
Your thoughts on treadmill running, the daylight saving time issue — and anything else! — are welcome. Feel free to email me any time.
Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club member Pete Colaizzo, the track coach at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, writes on running every week. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more club information, go to www.mhrrc.org