Getting up with the birds

Today marked a rare occurrence of getting up and out the door a few minutes before 6:30 a.m. to run 3.5 miles. The alarm clock didn't go off -- I just got up and ran (after a trip to the bathroom, of course). It sounds so easy, right? WRONG. If it was easy, I'd be a full-time morning runner. I generally have no problems doing this on the weekend. Even last year when I was going for really long runs on the weekend I could set the alarm for 5:30 and be out the door before Big Red made it's daily rising.

This past winter, though, with nothing to train for except getting healthy, even weekend morning running took a back seat. I get up with my son -- usually between 7 and 7:30 a.m. -- and hang out with him for an hour or so before my wife gets up. I've been doing those runs closer to 9 a.m. or so. Don't take that the wrong way though -- I love that extra time with my son on the weekend and it's often the only time it's just the two of us.

All this being said, I am awful with weekday morning running. I've done it before, back when I had a job in which I didn't have to be at work until 9 a.m. When I first started running in 2004 I worked evenings, which made it even easier to run in the morning, but that was more mid-morning.

Now, though, I have to be at work at 8 a.m. On paper, it seems easy: get up at 5:45 a.m., do whatever it is I need to do before running and get out the door around 6 a.m., give or take a few minutes. That allows me enough time to run 4-5 miles and still have plenty of time to get ready, eat breakfast, hang out with my son for 15 minutes and get to work on time.

Running in the morning isn't a wish ... it's something I need to do in order for the next six months to go well. That's right, need. Here's why:

  • morning, runningMy son's bed time is getting later. He's a great sleeper, but as he gets closer to 3 years old, his bedtime is getting closer to 8 p.m. Before it was regularly 7 p.m., but those days are gone. It's funny to tell other people when he goes to bed, but guess what?!? Kids need that much sleep. They shouldn't be staying up with you until 9 or 10 p.m. or catching the late local news, and then turning around and getting up at 7 a.m. [end rant] ... so for me as a family man, I love the evening time I get to spend with my son (and of course my wife). Those couple of hours or so at the end of the day are the only times during the week that I get to spend with him, so I'd rather not go out for a run if I get an extra half hour with him.
  • The weather is quickly changing. As the weather gets warmer and the humidity creeps up, afternoon storms can really ruin running plans. The rain I can handle; the thunder and lightning are another story. I actually don't have any issues with the heat, and here in Virginia the humidity sucks just as much in the morning as it does in the evening.
  • My wife needs the freedom in the evenings. With her stay-at-home Mary Kay business, evenings are prime time for meeting customers, dropping off products, meeting potential team members ... the more time she has to do that, the sooner we can drive that pink Cadillac to race expos near and far.
  • I need to set the tone for my days better. From my past experience I know that running in the morning helps set the tone for the day and leads to better decision making with food. No matter what time of the day I run, I need that, but I know getting up with the birds helps the process.
  • My dog Duke is a better morning runner. He's driven me crazy on the leash lately, but I was reminded this morning how much better he is in the morning. Other cruel dog owners don't have their dogs tied up in the front yard early in the day, which keeps him and me calmer. While my dog is so great with my son and good in the house, he seems even more grounded when he's getting his regular runs in.
  • Lastly, for now, this also isn't "need," but I sure do like waking up with nature. Hearing the birds sing, watching the sunrise, occasionally hearing a rooster crow ... it's good for the mind, and there's definitely nothing wrong with that.

Image: Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net