Running at Dawn, or, where is the coffee?

I haven’t had a lot going on this week, just from looking at my schedule. When I’m at school, every day is itemized to the max, and I spend the day bouncing from class to work to rehearsal and back again.

At home, it’s simpler. I wake up, I go to work for eight hours, I do some form of exercise, I see friends/work on life stuff, and then at around 11, I go to bed.  It should be simple. And yet, I feel like I go to bed every night thinking, “Wow, I wish I had more hours in the day.”  Every night this week has been jam packed with something, and since I work full time during the day, it doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

All of this is to say that because I haven’t been able to workout after work, I’ve ran two runs this week at 6 in the morning.

Cries of shock and alarm from my family. Strange faces and hands to my forehead from my friends. A random guy at Target who heard me talking about it at Target stared at me in a mix of admiration and fear.  I honestly can’t really believe I’ve been doing it myself.

Here’s some thoughts about the process of a first-thing-in-the-morning run:

Perks:
-Don’t have to worry about getting a workout in later
-Cooler temps and beautiful weather
-Silence and stillness great for mind-body connection
-No need to share the roads, since you’re one of the few crazies up at this hour
-Endorphins wake you up to start the day!

Downsides:
-actually having to get up and out of bed that early
-timing can be an issue.  I have a very precise schedule, so if I walk out the door a few minutes late, I have to shorten my run. Also, if I don’t calculate it right, I might leave myself only half an hour to get ready–and there isn’t much I dislike more than having to rush my coffee ritual.
-hitting a midmorning wall when the endorphins wear off and the tired sets in
-having to go to bed earlier

I don’t think any of the pros/cons actually out weigh the others.  You just have to see what works for you. 

Some tips to get you out the door:

-Wear your workout clothes to bed! This might sound dumb, but it made the difference for me.  When you’re not having to stumble around looking for socks and a sports bra at 5:55, it’s much easier to wander out the door.

-Set up all your supplies.  For me, this means laying out headphones and iPhone so I can grab and go.

-Post run fuel up.  You should ALWAYS eat breakfast, but it’s absolutely essential after a good run! I ate 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on whole grain toast, and wish I’d done more…I was starving by 10:30

-Don’t sweat the distance: do what you can do.  My mile times weren’t as good on my first morning run, but then I realized the important thing was just getting out the door. I could have slept in and foregone a workout that day.

I’ll leave you with this: never in a million years did I ever think I’d get up early to run a few years ago. This week, I accomplished almost six miles before 7 o’clock. That makes me feel success and peace in ways I never thought I could.

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