Wednesday, January 15, 2014


If you've read my book or my blogs, you know that I'm all about my workout logbook. I record many things into my daily log, including (during the winter months) the days I wear shorts rather than tights. A temperature of about 45 degrees Fahrenheit or above sends the legwear packing. Well, in the year of the "Polar Vortex," I have worn shorts 6 out of the 15 days in January of 2014.

Now, I am far from being a proponent of the global warming theories out there, but, according to a recent article published by the Associated Press, written by Seth Borenstein, statistically, we are becoming a nation of "Weather Wussies."

The article states, "As the world warms, the U.S. is getting fewer bitter cold spells like the one that gripped most of the nation last week. So when a deep freeze strikes, scientists say, it seems more unprecedented than it really is. The average daily temperature for the lower 48 states dropped to 17.9 degrees a week ago Monday, which was the first deep freeze of that magnitude in 17 years. Previously, according to an Associated Press analysis, such cold extremes have occurred every four years since 1900."

Schools closed, weather forecasters warned that people should stay indoors, even pets were advised to do their business indoors.

Meteorologist Greg Carbin, from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration listed 58 days in the past 115 years in which the national temperature average has been below 18 degrees. Between 1970 and 1989, it happened a dozen times. It occurred twice in the 1990s, and then there were none until the infamous Vortex.

Oh, and the killer chill? it was the 55th recorded coldest day since 1900.

Simply put, when it doesn't get as cold as frequently or as often, it feels colder than it really is.

Please don't ask me to repeat that sentence.

But you know where I'm going.

Here's my take on the situation. We live in a world of instant communication and the transmission of tremendous amounts of information in a short amount of time. We also have about 10,000 television channels, all willing to sensationalize everything.

I live in Pennsylvania. It is January. It is going to be cold. There's going to be snow, ice, and wind. Folks living near a beach are going to experience tropical storms. Tornadoes terrorize the country's midsection, and wildfires cause great destruction in the west.

As runners, we have the solution: be prepared, and be able to adapt.

Layering and staying dry are the keys to remaining warm during days with polar-like temperatures. Confront windy days by running an out-and-back course, with a pleasant tailwind on your way home. Wear fabrics that insulate you and repel the rain. Have special routes in mind for snowy days, and if it's icy, then you may consider the treadmill.

Be a weather forecast junkie. Get several reports, and if you have flexibility in your schedule, plan your run for the least unpleasant time of day. Remain bright and visible, as winter weather often decreases visibility.

And when you receive a comment from a civilian like, "You're nuts," as you train in 5-degree weather or through a deep snow, just tell them you're not a "Weather Wussie."

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