Thursday, February 5, 2015

Awakening My Inner Morning Runner

Running in the morning offers many advantages: avoiding scheduling conflicts, kick-starting metabolism, an inspiring sunrise view.

But then there's the waking up part.

For me (and a lot of people), that's the hardest part. It's soooooo dark in Santa Cruz in the winter. I know pretty much everyone everywhere else has it worse, but it was brutal running in 36-degree weather one morning last month. Hitting snooze means staying in a warm bed, dog at my feet, with the promise of fresh coffee and a hot shower when I get up. Getting up to run before work sets off a domino-effect of time-keeping, strategy and stress. If I run from the house, I can sneak in a quick rinse before heading to the office, but if I meet the running group, it means bringing work clothes and wet wipes. Last week I forgot my lunch.

Getting creative with the route on a recent morning run.
Of course, as we all know, you never regret getting up and going for the run. You love it. You relish that run all day. I get a little smug sitting in meetings after a morning run: I watched the sunrise over Monterey Bay got to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee with friends before all of this. And at the end of the work day, there's to pressure to run stairs in the dark or pound out miles on a treadmill at the gym.

Aside from the obvious benefits of exercising (d'oh), I love morning runs because they feel goofy. Yes, let's run concentric circles today to see what the Garmin map looks like later. Military crawl under a fence so we can get to the peak of this hill? Absolutely.

And then there's the sunrise. It's pretty awesome pretty much all the time.
Seacliff Beach sunrise
Scotts Valley sunrise
(photo by John)

Runners World has lots of tips about how to become a pre-dawn runner, including a checklist of how to prep the night before. I would add: sign up for a race. There's nothing more motivating than the prospect of online race results attached to your name. I just registered for the Across the Bay 12K in San Francisco this April.

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"So be prepared to quit. Do it willingly and with honest resolve. You'll be back. The marvelous thing about running is that you will never become jaded by it. Boredom, injury or anguish may overtake you from time to time, but the reward that first drew you to begin logging the miles remain untarnished and available -- always. Just put on your shoes and head out the door."