The early bird gets the worm

The early bird gets the worm, even if it’s a soggy and dark breakfast. Seattle has a lovely way of reminding one of this fact. No less than 13 hours after leaving Hawaii I awoke to 50 degrees and nighttime dark (at 6am no less)  complete with rain, mist, and wind. A stark change from Waikiki beach, and the first time since March I’ve had to dig tights and a long sleeve out of the running bin to survive 5 miles.

I sometimes complain about the winter here in Seattle (okay, and fall and spring, too), but I truly love battling the elements. No matter the weather running takes heart, soul and physical ability. But for me the heart and soul get a better opportunity to showcase what all they can do when they’re up against windy chilly rain at 5:00 in the morning. Part of the fun of running for me is walking in the front door at the end and thinking to myself, “Hell yeah, I did that!” and the weather adds a new variable to battle outside of fresh or pooped legs.

This morning I even slept in an hour longer than normal. It was dark like nighttime when I ran out the front door, and there was a fall mist misting. But here’s how I tricked myself into getting out the door, because we all know that’s the hard part:

1. Do NOT look out the window when you wake up.

Before bed last night (hours past my normal bedtime, mind you) I whipped my iPhone out, checked the hourly weather report, and then had sweet running dreams. Knowing you’ll wake up to rain is much less intimidating than being surprised in the morning when it’s much easier to talk yourself into staying in bed. And by not previewing what you’re getting yourself into you may not even realize that it is both wetter and windier than you imagined before you get out the door! Oh the bonus! And once you are out there in the wet and cold you may as well take care of business.

2. Lay your clothes out. And Ghost 4’s. And iPod. And RoadID. And Brooks Nightlife vest. And have a glass of water ready to chug with Nuun. And any other pre-running ritual? Set it up.

After you check the weather and have an idea of what you’ll be facing, get everything ready to go and put it somewhere where you can turn on the light. Every.Single.Thing.That.You.Need. should be in a neat little pile, easy to remember and difficult to forget. This is always especially difficult when the seasons change and you need to switch out gear; I made a LOT of trips up and down the stairs this morning to grab forgotten items. I grade myself as a C on this front today, but usually I’m much better. Maybe had something to do with the late airplane arrival and 4 hours of sleep.

3. Rise and SHINE.

As soon as your alarm clock sings good morning turn on the light. Every single light that you can without bothering others. Once you have the lights on it’s a lot more work to get to bed. Unless you are really tired, in which case I can’t help you. I live in an open loft so I try to keep things as dark as possible for my sleepy husband, but I keep my running pile in the bathroom so that I can hydrate, get dressed, and uh, take care of anything else, before I head out.

4. Warm up.

I read an article recently (that I can’t find or I’d link to) that stated that morning runners are something like 30% more likely to get injured than those who run in the afternoon or evening. This all because us early birds aren’t warmed up or using good form in the initial strides; who could be while still in a zombie-like state? Now, this doesn’t mean that morning isn’t a good time to run! But warming up is a good way to get your body and mind eased into the idea of activity, and a more gentle way to roll out of bed.

Sidenote: Before it got too dreary I started implementing my ab workout and a light stretch before a swim, bike or run. So far I haven’t developed any new injuries, and old ones are continuing to heal, so I give this a gold star.

5. Take care of yourself, first.

Life is busy and I like happy hour a lot. But not a lot of people vie for my morning time. Work is quiet, there’s no traffic, stores are closed, I can’t run errands, and there’s nothing on tv. Really, there’s just not a lot to do at 5:00 am. So, it’s a good time to make my own and do something for me. Now, this one doesn’t initially make it any easier to get out of bed or into the cold, but once you become accustomed to the idea the quiet and rainy empty streets will beckon you, and before you know it you’ll wake up at 4:59am naturally.

 

Happy morning running! Mine this morning certainly was and I can’t wait to get back at it tomorrow, though I do sleep until 7 or so on Saturdays, usually, so maybe the worms won’t be as soggy then.

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