Al Gore opened new worlds of stalking to the shy, curious, and flat-out creepy. Gone are the days when one lurked in bushes, trees, or other foliage, hoping to ogle passersby or inventory their actions. That mode is, I imagine, much like vinyl: adamantly adhered to by a handful of purists (or, as it were, peepers). Now we have Facebook, Twitter, fascinating blogs, and so many more options for electronic, anonymous monitoring of the object of your obsession.

Mine: THE WEATHER CHANNEL. Mother Nature is fickle and often ferocious, switching in a day’s span from torrential rains to sun blasts and back, perhaps a cold snap during lunch, and a tornado warning or two for a night cap. Most runners need to plan attire for just a few hours: the duration of their exertions. The weather in that span should hold, but run commuters face two often distinctly different climates, bookending their days. Keep these things in mind before you brave the day’s elements, be they at dawn or dusk.

1. Refresh Early, Refresh Often
I am talking about your browser. I check the hourly weather report as often as hardcore narcissists check Facebook, then the mirror, then Facebook, and back to the mirror. And with good cause.

Atlanta has flounced between freezing and frazzling these first few weeks of 2012, eliciting bitter, brrrrrr-tive complaints, or small talk about how lovely it is to have 65- to 75-degree weather in January. This apparently has shocked citizens into collective disbelief, as everyone keeps asking whether I believe it. I don’t: it is fact. Yet Mother Nature’s swings have been bizarre.

Example: Jan. 3-4, lows hit 32 degrees, and I ran in several layers. Jan. 5, 60 degrees, and we slept with the windows open Jan. 7-9. A friend from GUTS ran a 50K on Jan. 9 at nearby Sweetwater Creek State Park and said daffodils were blooming. The lows then were something like 55, the highs nearly 20 degrees more. On Jan. 13-14: 28 degrees. Water trickles and shallow puddles became black ice, and fountains froze over.

The “Out in the Rain” Fountain, Historic Oakland Cemetery, is on one of my routes to the office.

2. Plan, and Pack, for Two Climates
The weather might shift drastically, particularly in the tempestuous seasonal transitions. You might have a sunny or foggy or freezing morning; those evenings might see torrential downpours or a 20-degree temperature hike, or hail of frogs, or a poisonous gas, or some other biblical torment. Who knows: climate change is doing all sorts of crazy things these days.

Anticipating these dual-climate days will allow you to pack accordingly before you head out from home; too, you will be able to plan how to hoof it home with potentially added baggage. Will it rain at 5 p.m.? Best bring your backpack’s rain cover. How warm will it be after work? Will you need to carry out your jacket or sweatshirt, your tights? Have you left sufficient space on your back for such a possibility?

(As a tangent, this lends weight to my argument for always wearing shorts over your tights. If it warms too much, you will have to run home in sweat-slick tights and look a fool, or ditch the tights and run home au natural, and get locked up like a fool.)

Some mornings the view from Jackson Street …


… is obscured entirely by fog.

3. Dispel Expectations of Constancy
Thinking seasonally can lull you into a false sense of expectation. “It will surely be 60 degrees the whole week, as it was today,” you might think. “Split shorts, ahoy!” Such bravado can find you with your hojos lodged securely in your sternum, uncertain whether to descend prior to April. It also could have you stuffed into tights and thermals on rapidly-warming mornings (ain’t that right, JOSH?). To “assume” would not necessarily make an ass out of you and me, as my mother taught me; however, it will likely make an ass out of you, or at least rob your refreshing run to work of its savor.

4. Miscellaneous Items to Consider, Store
Even Nostradamus occasionally erred: so do meteorologists. But whether you take your weather prognostications from robots’ foresight or tasseomancers’ second-sight, be prepared for some sudden shift. Cold snap or snow: do you have a spare sweatshirt around the office in which to layer? Torrential rains: keep a Hefty bag in your desk, and use that to protect your backpack’s precious treasures (wrap them in the sack, stuff the sack in your pack). Discuss some hypothetical situations with your trusted loved ones or running partner. If you come to the Mayan cosmogenesis, well … uh … good luck?