Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Runner Confession: Mornings

Running and mornings, mornings and running.

These two things go together like peas and carrots, Forrest and Jenny, Tom and Jerry, peanut butter and jelly, rum and Coke.

Image Source
Have I mentioned that I love Forrest Gump?
(and that I loved it way before I was a runner)
But not for me.

Despite years of runner friends, Runner's World, and countless other sources telling me that running in the morning is the norm and often a better idea than going out in the evening, I have resisted. It just hasn't been convenient for me for three main reasons:

One: Running in my neighborhood is not really pleasant. I prefer to go to downtown Richmond and run. This means that in order to run in the morning, I have to wake up earlier than I already do, drive 40 min to downtown Richmond, run, then take a shower at the Y (yuck!), then go to work.

Two: I'm just not a morning person and never have been. I love to sleep. A lot.

Three: The few times that I have gone out in the morning (non-race), I have found that my run experience is just better in the afternoon. It is the same for my swimming... when I tried to swim very early in the a.m. it seemed 500 times harder than when I swam in the late morning.

Yes, I know that running in the morning would be cooler during the summer.

Yes, I realize that 99% of my races take place at the crack of dawn (how could I forget? Just ask anyone... early race starts are the source of a lot of whining from me) and that training in the morning would help my body get used to being asked to run X miles just after waking up.

Yes, it can be more difficult to plan fueling for long runs.

Yes, I get home really late when the mileage starts to creep up during training season.

But it has just been way easier and more attractive for me to hit the streets right after work. That, and I am a creature of habit. The prospect of changing my normal routine sends my brain into overdrive, even when it is something as simple as running at 7 am instead of at 5 pm.

For three years, nothing changed my mind about my evening running. Not even the searing heat and humidity of a Central Virginia summer convinced me last year. If it was completely unbearable, I'd just run on the treadmill or indoor track at the Y, which at the time were perfectly acceptable alternatives.

Now, the treadmill bores me to tears and the indoor track is off limits - I'll never forget the "Oh my God you've got to be joking" look on Steve's face when I asked him if running on an indoor track would be a good alternative to pavement after breaking my foot. (His answer was a resounding DO NOT EVER RUN ON THE INDOOR TRACK AGAIN.)

So when faced with the choice between running in 90+ degree heat accompanied by massive amounts of humidity or waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual and using the dreaded YMCA showers, I have been surprisingly going with the latter option.

I have been running in the morning (!).

The first time I forced myself out of bed at 5:45 am and made the trek to downtown to run 5 miles, I was rewarded with a $60 parking ticket for not paying attention to weekday parking restrictions. An ominous start to my attempt at becoming a morning runner, for sure.

But since then, I have slowly but surely gotten used to my new routine and am actually starting to prefer it. Right now, my weekday runs are 5 miles or less, so if I get up at 5:45 am and leave the house by 6:15, I'm at the Y by 7:00 am and have plenty of time to run my 5 miler, take my shower, and get to work by 9 am. 5:45 am isn't so bad... it is really only 20 minutes earlier than I had been getting up anyway.

Some other plusses and minuses:

+ I really like walking out of the Y at 8:30 am having already completed my work out for the day.

- It's challenging to remember all of things I need to get ready for the work day (work clothes, shoes, jewelry, toiletries, make up, brush, hairdryer, etc etc etc!). I almost always forget at least one important thing... so far the worst was when I forgot my hairbrush. Let me tell you how gorgeous my hair looked that day.

- I am a news junkie so I do miss watching my morning news show while eating my frosted mini wheats (I miss them too!).

+ It's very satisfying to know that during the time I used to sit on my butt watching CBS This Morning, I've instead run 5 miles.

+ I've gotten into the habit of rewarding myself with a coffee from Lift, which just so happens to kinda sorta be on my way to the office.

- Rewarding myself with a coffee from Lift is not so good for my wallet.

+ I like having my evening free for Happy Hour or to just get home in time to make dinner (giving Husband a break from dinner duty).

- I miss not having to wear flip flops in the shower. Doing so takes me right back to my college days and it is not a memory a care to invoke.

- Sometimes the work day, particularly the afternoon, seems to drag on forever if I run in the morning.

+ Even though it's often still a sweaty work out, obviously the mornings are not nearly as hot as the evenings and I think that I might sweat at least a little bit less.

- I haven't been able to convince Prabir that waking up before 8 am to run is a good idea.

+ Greg (and others!) can join me, so I still have company.

Even though I still do hate early mornings, it appears that adding a run has improved them for me. I guess I really shouldn't be that surprised... I can't think of anything that hasn't become more fun once a run has been put into the mix!


  1. 1) I saw Forest Gump in the theater four times in two weeks, because it’s that good.
    2) It is also the only movie I’ve ever seen that is better than the book. The book is actually so bad that I’m impressed they were able to make such a good movie from such awful source material.
    3) We already talked a little bit about this a.m. vs p.m. running thing and you’ve covered most of the debate. I’m considering making the switch depending on how bad the heat gets here, but I have two other cons in my situation. A) I have to work at 7, so it would mean getting up before 5. Not impossible at all, but maybe not a realistic long term routine. B) I sometimes count on my after-work run as needed therapy miles, and use them to unwind. We’ll see what happens.

    Good on ya for at least trying the switch. It sounds like it’s working out pretty well. And you can use your first “-“ comment as a checklist so you won’t forget anything again. Happy Training.

  2. Oh, and I spent a few minutes rocking out to Prabir’s band the other day after you mentioned them. He’s pretty awesome…you know, for a guy that won’t get up at the crack of dawn and run with you.

    1. Which band did you listen to? There was Prabir and the Substitutes but now he is with Goldrush - I also know the bass and violin player in that band. They are all pretty awesome.


    2. Substitutes. I just googled his first name and “Richmond” and that‘s what came up. The first YouTube clip that came up was from a show at a music store in Newport News that I used to check out in high school. It was maybe a little popier than I think most people would expect me to like, but that’s what people get for making assumptions. I’ll check out Goldrush too. I like that rock bands are incorporating more traditional string instruments (violins, cellos).

    3. You'll love Goldrush then. Maybe you should come visit for a run on a day that they have a show and we can kill two birds with one stone!

  3. I'm a morning runner by default, and it is nice to go to work knowing that my workout is done for the day. I am not sure if I could do it with a commute. I'm far too groggy to drive anywhere that early!