Friday, March 4, 2011

Morning runs: Who needs sleep when you've got jogging?!

Despite being an avid runner, I've never been a big fan of the early-morning jog.

It might be the late nights at work; it also might be the fact that "early morning" is a loose term when it comes to my sleep schedule. Whatever the case, my first instinct when I wake up in the morning is to make breakfast, not lace up the running shoes.

Most of my running gets done during the middle of the day or the evening. Not exactly optimal during the dog days of summer (can those please get here soon? Enough of this winter business), but it works for my schedule.

Today would prove to be an exception to the rule.

I knew today was going to be long one. Morning work, plasma donation, and a Friday sports night at the copy desk were all on the agenda. I knew the chances of me sneaking a quick run in before heading to the Free Press were pretty remote. Heck, I'd be lucky just to get a decent nap in somewhere during the day.

So, rather than writing off today as a lost cause exercise-wise, I took the initiative and planned a run at the one time of day it would work in my schedule: Early morning. I set my alarm for 5 a.m., laid out an outfit, and kept my fingers crossed that my mp3 player would hold up in cold weather.

I went to bed feeling excited that I was going to be ambitious with my day. However, when my alarm went off, the excitement was replaced with sheer anger toward the beeping time box.

I attempted to turn the alarm off with my feet and tried to sleep through it, both to no avail. In the end, I decided I might as well do what I set out to accomplish with the morning. I was going on about 4 hours of sleep, but I figured the run would wake me up.

I will say this about the run itself: There was no shortage of points where I thought to myself "You could be sleeping right now in your warm bed, but you're out here. Idiot." There was also numerous occasions where my feet would find themselves splashing in puddles on the sidewalk and getting my feet wet. Add that to having to run through some pretty sizable ice patches along the way, and I can definitely say that I've had better runs in my time.

However, all the resentment about waking up early turned into satisfaction by the end of the run. I ran long enough to feel an ample "runner's high" (nothing too special for a route, just a shade over 5 miles, map here) and my nervousness for the day instead turned into optimism.

They say running is the best form of therapy on a stressful day. Well, it's also the best wake-up call. You might hate yourself for doing it when the alarm first goes off, but you'll be thanking yourself by the end of the run.

I might have to do this more often.

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