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March 28, 2013 / jessicamcelroy

Early Morning Runner

On Tuesday I woke up at 6:30 for an easy run.

I meant to go for 4 miles, but I was still feeling sore from the half marathon. It has been months since a long run has left me with the kind of soreness that feels like metal rods in your legs, but I guess pushing the pace the whole way through really wore me out. I was so unusually fatigued after 3 miles that I had to listen to my body and cut it short.

Let me tell ya – The 100 or so stairs I have to climb coming up from the subway on my commute were not my friends that day. (Yes, there are escalators, but I swore off of those contraptions a long time ago.)

In any case, I was glad that I woke up that morning to get a run in first thing. This week I’ve been trying to get back in the schedule of running exclusively in the morning.

For a while I had been doing most of my runs after work. While it’s certainly great for re-energizing and de-stressing, I find that it tends to eat up a disproportionate amount of my evening. Once I’ve gotten home it takes me a good while to break out of my post-work stupor enough to get my running shoes on and out the door.

The way I see it, running takes up less time overall if you make it a priority to wake up an hour earlier and incorporate it into your morning routine. There are also tons of other benefits of being an early morning runner:

  • People who work out in the morning are more likely to do it consistently. If you save your run for later in the day then it is liable to get crowded out by other things or it may just be too hard to talk yourself into it after an exhausting day. Also, running in the morning frees up your evening for happy hours, dinners, and other fun things that come up at the last minute.
  • Success begets success.When you make a good decision to prioritize your health first thing in the morning you are setting yourself up for a virtuous cycle. Waking up early and keeping a regular schedule go hand in hand with healthy self-discipline and productivity. There is a reason some of the most successful people in the world are early risers.
  • It centers you before you begin your day. Running releases endorphins and creates a sense of mental calm. I always have a more balanced, relaxed perspective after I’ve gone for a run, and it makes me feel empowered to deal with challenges and stress in a constructive way.
  • Running energizes you. I know I feel a dramatic difference in energy level on days when I started with a run. It’s a huge misconception when people say they don’t run or exercise because they are lazy. It’s really the other way around: they feel lazy because they don’t exercise. You have to expend energy to get energy.
  • You see your town/neighborhood in a whole new way. When you get out in the early morning hours, you see things that few others do. The streets are peaceful and quiet. You don’t have to deal with traffic. On my morning runs I see homeless people still sleeping soundly in doorways of stores, I see the hardcore yogis through the windows of yoga studios, I see the bars coming up on storefronts as they open for the day, and on Fridays I get the chance to thank our garbage man in person.

    [Thursday update: This morning I’m pretty sure I witnessed a bike stealing operation when I saw two guys riding their bikes along, one pulling a trailer full of bikes and parts tangled together. I sensed that they were wary of my glares at them. If I hadn’t been a lone female in an industrial area with no one around, I mighta taught those bike thieves a lesson.]

It’s true that getting out of a warm bed when the alarm goes off at the crack of dawn is easier said than done. But I’m making it a point to recalibrate myself for it, knowing that it really does get easier the longer you do it.

I’ll keep you all posted on how it goes and maybe follow up with some tips on how to become a morning person… if I’m successful at it.

For now I better sign off… I have 7 miles on tap for tomorrow morning! I’ll leave you with a beautiful Berkeley sunrise photo from one of my runs:

Image

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2 Comments

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  1. sheordinary / Mar 28 2013 11:15 pm

    Hey Jessica, loved this post..I ve been trying to become a morning person myself…your post just inspired me to get over my fear of the morning quiet and just go ahead and work out…

    • jessicamcelroy / Apr 1 2013 5:19 am

      Thanks for reading! Definitely know what you mean. I’m working on that, too, by shifting my attitude to actually look forward to utilizing the morning. It’s nice to make the time to touch base with yourself and get energized before the day starts. Good luck to you!

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