Morning runs

June 25, 2010

Recently, I reset my body clock and got back to running at my favorite time of day: the early morning run.

For whatever it’s worth, the mini-history is that for many years, I have been the kind of runner who gets up by 5 am, year-round, to get in a run in the peace of the early morning.  I like seeing the minute-by-minute changes in the sunrise compounded over days, when it dawns on me that I have been running the dark for months, and then suddenly it’s grey, then ever slowly slightly brighter and brighter each day until June 21, and then ever so slightly dimmer, until I am once again running in darkness before most people are even out of their pajamas.  I like being able to smell that some people in the world still cook bacon for breakfast.  I like hearing birds singing and chirping rather than just the sounds of traffic.  I could go on, but I suppose it boils down to the fact that I like getting it in before the rest of the obligations of the day command my attention.  I pray, my dog and I observe rabbits, squirrels, sometimes even deer, I think about what I need to do during the day.  My whole day goes better when I run first.

After the birth of each of my children, when sleep is so fleeting and precious, I had to modify my routine.  (My, that seems like a casual description of having my whole life change!)  When my body was up to it, I eased back into running, and switched to getting it done over my lunch hour when I was back at work.

This summer, with Timothy hitting the one year mark, with my daughter finishing Kindergarten and needing a different childcare arrangement (we went with a fantastic college student/firecracker who is spending several days per week with her), and with the educated guess that we’re going to have some pretty hot/humid weather, I wanted to reclaim my lunch hours, and also rediscover the advantages of running in the morning.

These days, I’m getting up at 4:35 am, and with my running clothes already set out so that I can’t wuss out, I rouse Timothy for a quick breast-feeding session, change, lace up my shoes, and head out with my beloved running partner/bodyguard/dog Josie.  We’re out the door by 5:15 am, back by 6:00.

I do need to make an additional concession – since Timothy only goes back to sleep about half the time after I’ve filled his belly with milk, I also keep the running stroller “staged” (well, my husband offers to do this for me after putting bikes and scooters away in the evening, thank you so much!) so that if he’s acting lively, he gets to come along for the ride.  This is a positive, in my book, added resistance training aside — it’s more time with my son, it’s a chance to talk with him about all the things to see out in the world, and it saves my husband, who is self-admittedly not-so-much a morning person, from being “on duty” before he’s ready.

Finally, the other prep work that I do is I set out sippy cups of milk for Natalie and Max, and I turn on the Disney Channel quietly.  Once in awhile, they do wake up before I get back home.  We’ve discussed and practiced this scenario, and it’s working out.  They know I’m running, that I’ll be back very soon, that they must not ever unlock or open the door or go outside, and in an “emergency” they can always wake up their dad.

Writing it out, I guess it seems a bit complicated.  Maybe it just seem pretty darn early?  Keep in mind that my usual wake-up time during the school year is 5 am, so I already wasn’t far off.  So making the switch, for me, wasn’t asking for a major overhaul, but just a good solid tweak to the routine.  I had incentive, because I was reminded almost immediately why it truly is my favorite time of day to run.


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