Tomorrow, at 5:45, I will get up and prepare to go on a nine mile run. It’s the only time of the day, between job and family, that I have to run, and while I’m not a super hardcore kind of guy, you know, the kind they show in the Nike commercials, but going on a long run or ride in the morning actually helps the rest of the day go much better.
Over the years I’ve found that the following suggestions are the only things that keep me rolling out of a warm and very comfortable bed:
- I give myself bonus points just for being awake, let alone awake and running. That means I spend a lot of time immediately after I wake up thinking “way to go! way to be awake! way to be stepping out into the cold and wet!”
- Those bonus points mean that I don’t have to run fast if I don’t feel like it. Which is good, especially in the first few miles, because I usually start running at a pace generously termed as an ‘aggressive shuffle’.
- They also mean that I don’t have to run as far as I had previously planned the night before. In fact, if I’ve been running regularly for a while, and don’t feel like getting out of bed one morning, I won’t. I wait until I’m actually looking forward to running to start up again…
- That said, it’s best to get out and start going before I wake up and rational thought kicks in. The rational thing to do, 99% of the time, is to go back to bed.
- While I love running to heavy metal, I stay away from the iPod, because on a dark and windy road at 6:30 in the morning, I need my ears and everything else fully functioning. So I run more to an internal iPod, I get a good Ronny James Dio tune going in my head and use that to kick it up a notch. We Rock, anyone?
- When I get tired I pretend I’m a Kenyan, i.e. I weigh next to nothing, have lungs the size of a small house, and just float over the ground. I’m still a shuffling Indian, but the visualization has gotten me up more steeps than I can remember.
- I cycle through my body as I run, relaxing tensed up shoulders, concentrating on good form, analyzing my foot strike, etc. It’s amazing what you can find to focus on for an hour and a half.
- I walk home the last 1/4 mile. You would too if you lived at the top of a steep hill. This gives my legs time to warm down, and makes them less sore.
- I then ride into work. This is also a good warm down for the legs, it’s about 5 miles in, with one hill of any consequence.
- I take the next day off of running. I ride, or climb, or do something else. This lets my 39 year old body recover in time for the next early morning session.
- I try to make these morning runs ‘adventures’, by going on new routes, exploring different areas, reversing parts of loops, etc. Nothing sucks worse than being unexcited about a run because you’ve done the same route for the last 6 months.
This has kept me fresh and excited about running for a long time now. Hopefully I can stay relatively injury free (ankle is bugging me lately) and keep it together for a couple of 1/2 marathons later in the year.