(updated from 2018)
IT’S TIME TO ANTICIPATE the upcoming season. In just under 3 weeks, on March 20, 2019 the Vernal Equinox will occur in the Northern Hemisphere (autumnal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere), and the hours experienced in daylight will equal those in darkness. The event marks the beginning of astrological spring.
Why wait so long to celebrate increasing light up north? Meteorological Spring arrives today, March 1 and the first day of “The Brightening” began on February 4. The what?
The Earned Runs blog has posted on the topic of “The Brightening”, now for 3 years (2017, 2018, 2019), because it suggests a change in perspective that might help with exercise motivation at the time of year when enthusiasm is at a low point.
Fierce winter storms have rolled across the country, week after week for months. Treacherous travel conditions, chilly temperatures, above average precipitation, sunless skies, and too many kids-at-home “snow days” will have sabotaged at least some workouts. A wrecked training program is not a morale booster. Failing to meet New Year fitness resolutions is discouraging. Generally, disruption of any kind to comfortable routines can be stressful.
So here we are, at the start of March, in need of cheering up. Perhaps news of “The Brightening” and the coming of meteorological spring today will help.
The original post (February 8, 2017) featured the novel idea, put forth in a Backpacker.com magazine article, that the four seasons be reconfigured to help outdoor enthusiasts make the most of daylight hours*. The article’s writer proposed an early spring equivalent, to be called “The Brightening” season, would begin on February 4 each year, and described it as the “glorious season in which you can finally plan a trip without a triple set of headlamp batteries.”
The Earned Runs post explained that the item’s “writer does not call for chucking the old system but for using the daylight-based year to inform the backpacking world: don’t wait for ‘Spring’ to arrive to plan hikes. Longer days start with “The Brightening”.
Earned Runs urged outdoor lovers of other sports to take note and follow the backpacking community’s lead. “Runners and walkers might also benefit from considering the seasons in the same way as hikers. Although we are not as restricted to daylight hours in enjoying our outdoor activity, the proportion of the day in which the sun is above the horizon may affect enthusiasm and the planning of long or destination runs in nearby [or] getaway locations.”
Every winter at this time, the reasoning behind dividing the year by daylight length, starting with “The Brightening”, might make good sense to those weary of darkness. After all, Daylight Saving Time in the USA is set to begin on March 10. We’re ready for more usable daylight. February 4 may be too early to start celebrating in some geographic locations, but the start of meteorological spring on March 1 seems ideal to recognize earlier sunrise and later sunset times. And to consider utilizing them for fitness fun.
“The Weather Channel”, which has named winter storms since 2012 (the US National Weather Service refrains from this practice), reports that “Winter Storm Ryan” is making his way across the country. It’s a good bet that the rest of the alphabet will be put in play before winter weather is completely behind us.
However, in spite of this stark reality, it might be more mentally and emotionally healthy to begin focusing on the positive aspects of the season now that March has arrived. Like how much brighter and longer that days are and what we can hope to do with the extra time!
In the next few weeks some Earned Runs blog posts will go with the theme of making the most of daylight in terms of outdoor exercise. In 2017 the post ended with the sentiment: “At the time of this post we will be in the season of Brightening; let’s celebrate and accelerate our timeline to enjoy the great outdoors.”
Earned Runs hopes to help with the acceleration.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*Here’s how the seasons should be structured, according to Backpacker.com:
- THE BRIGHTENING: February 4; “glorious season in which you can finally plan a trip without a triple set of headlamp batteries”
- THE SHINING: May 5; “the season of long days fit for big miles”
- THE DIMMING: August 7; “reminder to seize every weekend”
- THE DARKENINIG:November 7; “perhaps plan a moonlit hike”
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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