For the first few years of my running life I was an afternoon runner. I’d get home from class/work and head out for a run before dinner. I liked getting the stress and extra energy out from the day which I think it was partly routine from 3 years of playing lacrosse in high school and having afternoon practices. After I ran my first half marathon last year the weather was starting to head into the summer heat. Suddenly the afternoon air felt too hot and stifling. I decided one day to get up early and try to get some miles in before the sun had a chance to heat up the Earth. With that, I became a morning runner.
There is a certain sereneness to running that early. Sure, there are a few passing cars, one or two other runners, and the occasional dog being walked, but for the most part it’s just me running my way through the neighborhood. Today I got up around 5 am and was out the door for an easy 5 miler. It was raining and continued to rain for the first 3.5 miles, but it was still calm. The rain kept everyone else inside and I had the neighborhood to myself. It was peaceful and refreshing. In the summer when the sun rises early, I’m often greeted with a view of the sunrise over the farm that is across the street from where we live. Just the cows in the field and the morning sun. And quiet.
Being a morning runner means going to bed early to get up early. My non-running friends often say they don’t understand how I do it. It’s easy. “Rise & run!” as I like to tweet. Since the days have been getting longer and warmer, I’ve been doing a number of my runs in the afternoon. I’ve realized that on the days that I run in the morning I have more energy during the day and I am way more focused. That’s not to say that after a shower and breakfast I wish I could go back to bed, but once I get into my work for the day I find I am much more productive.
For the longest time I believed afternoon running was right for me. I had convinced myself that I did not have the energy in the morning to get quality miles in. I had also never actually tried getting up on a weekday after a good night’s rest. Some nights it’s hard to force myself to get into bed by 8:30 pm. Some mornings it’s hard to get up. Some mornings I don’t get up, I reset my alarm and move my run to the afternoon (spring/fall is the time of year I most often do this, when the weather is nice both in the morning and in the afternoon).
This very cold winter was especially hard. Getting up early to drive to the gym and run on the treadmill was really difficult. I also feel like I have been running in the dark for a year, but it’s really only going on 6 months. This morning as I neared the end of my run it was around 6 am and I could see the sky starting to lighten up despite the rainy day. I know bright, calm, quiet morning runs are just around the corner. Knowing that makes me happy I am a morning runner.
If you’re a habitual afternoon runner and have never really tried to run in the morning, I suggest giving it a few tries this summer. The first time it will be hard to go to bed early and probably even harder to get up early, but if you give it a chance you too may get to discover how peaceful an early morning run can truly be.