This morning, I noticed that the days are getting noticeably longer. Just a few weeks ago, the average day was 9 hours, 22 minutes (the shortest day of the year). Today, it’s fully 35 minutes longer, and in another three weeks, it will be 35 minutes longer still. To quote James Brown in The Blues Brothers, ‘Do you see the light?’ February is a short month, but my oh my it takes soooooo long to get to March. February seems colder than January. It seems more depressing than January. And it certainly seems more ‘wintery’ than January. But those length of days! If your glass of water hasn’t frozen, it is half full and not half empty. February is a month of patience for runners. The end of the year often brings with it the annual ‘couple weeks off’ or shifting into different training phases, or maybe your one of those Phunt runners (kudos if you are). The January runner is usually about transition. March is usually about shedding layers of clothes and adding turn-over in the legs. March might even be an early season test of race readiness. But February? Patience, my harrier friends, patience. I saw a great quote the other day, from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Adopt the pace of Nature; her secret is patience.” What we do in February will have a major impact on the remainder of our training cycle or year. This is especially the case if we do too much or get too anxious. February is definitely a time of patience. I’ve run more than two dozen marathons. My best races were always springtime affairs. Whether it was Pittsburgh or Cleveland or Boston, I always ran better in a spring race. And the reason? February patience. My top five spring races averaged 2’44. My top five fall races averaged 2’52. For many, when the temperatures moderate and the days length, we tend to go overboard with exuberance. It might be one too many miles, or one too many repeats, or one too many races. Heck, it’s light until 9 pm! But the patience of February... My very last marathon was in Burlington, VT in 2010. I remember it not because of how it ended, but what came after. It had to be one of my best winters and early springs for training. Miles, tempo runs, marathon pacing, and even a couple solid tune-up races. February patience at its best. But marathon race-day rolled around and by three miles, I had no desire to finish what I had started in January. I literally walked off the course and out of the world of marathoning. This story does not have an unhappy ending. The patience of February that year paid major dividends. Even after the DNF, I continued to train and had one of my best springs and summers of racing in a dozen years, including adding a few overall race wins at age 46. Lemonade from the lemons. With February and the groundhog comes the need to exhibit patience. Keep the clothing layers on, continue to stay safe with reflective gear and running partners, continue to moderate the pace and focus on good form and posture. Your February patience will pay springtime dividends. “Do you see the Light?”. Why yes, we’re puttin’ the band back together! I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails.