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November 27, 2016

Being wary of the time change depending on your schedule

There are a few things that runners must adjust to that they do not necessarily like.

One of the things is having to go through this adjustment they call “daylight savings time.” It happens twice a year with the “fall back one hour” in the fall, and then again with the “spring ahead one hour” in the spring. One change affects runners who like to do their running in the evening, and the other affects the runners who like a morning run.

This latest change affects the evening runners more. Where before the time change a runner could get in that evening run before dark, and maybe hit a little bit of twilight darkness, now there is only darkness and an adjustment needs to be made.

Clothing should be much lighter in color; no more running in darkly-colored gear. Reflective clothing is recommended; and a flashlight - or attached blinking light - is useful if you run on the roads. Running on sidewalks is better; but with the darkness and the visibility limited, it is difficult to see the low-hanging branches, cracks in the sidewalk or obstacles left out on the path. That one-hour change in time makes for some serious problems for a runner.

The “spring-ahead” time change is more of a problem for the morning runner. Just when an early start begins to get you enough daylight to be comfortable, the one-hour change takes place, and you are once again running in the dark. When you step out of the door for your 6:00 a.m. run, it is now actually 5:00 a.m. and it is still dark.

For runners who are also race organizers, special attention needs to be given when setting a date for a race. I had one race in March on the same weekend as the spring-ahead time change. With a set start time at 7:00 a.m., it was still very dark; and we had to delay the start for 30 minutes so that there was enough light that runners were not in any danger of not being seen by any cars that might be on the road. An added problem was when entered runners who did not remember to set their clocks ahead showed up after the race had started.

What brought this back to my attention was when I let my dogs in for the evening. They usually come in for the night around 8:00 p.m. or slightly before. With the time change, they see it is dark outside and want to come in. Their clock is the sun and how dark it is outside, and not the clock on the wall. The other problem is that when the sun comes up, they want to go back outside, which means I need to get up an hour earlier to let them out.

There are a few states that do not observe daylight savings time, which somebody started for a reason I forgot – something about saving electricity, I think – and for farmers and ranchers who work by the rule, “when the sun comes up, it is time to go to work; and when the sun goes down, it is time for supper.”

I remember teaching at a college that was located about 60 miles south of the Canadian border. In the winter months, I walked to the school for my 8:00 a.m. class in the dark. After coaching wrestling until 5:00 p.m. that evening, I walked back home in the dark. Unless I went home at noontime for lunch, I never saw daylight. Then in the summer, it did not get dark until around 1:00 a.m. in the evening; and then, I swear, the sun came up about 3 hours later. It seemed like it just never did get dark.

Each year there is some wise politician who submits a bill to do away with daylight savings time; and each time it is defeated. I personally like the time set by my dogs and the farmers and ranchers; and I use it the entire year. But that is just a runner talking about the adjustments we must make twice a year. Just remember that the next adjustment is to “spring ahead.”

Next Saturday is San Marcos’ largest race: the Sights & Sounds 5K. Be part of the festivities and be one of hopefully 1,000 runners this year.

Moe Johnson
Dr. Maurice Johnson - better known around San Marcos as “Moe” - is a professor in the Department of Health, P.E., Recreation and Dance at Texas State University - San Marcos. Moe has been a fixture in the San Marcos running community - both as a runner and race organizer - since way back when Moby Dick was a minnow. His column on running and fitness appears each Sunday in the Sports section of the San Marcos Daily Record.

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