The Morning Run

Just like Communism, going for a run in the morning before work looks great on paper but works horribly in reality. You think, “Man, I can just get up a little early, get my run in, go into work a bit late (missing the morning rush hour) and stay a bit late (missing the evening rush hour)! I am a genius!” In reality, it turns out you are not a genius.

I made such an attempt to get back into the morning runs and it has not started out well. It is not the early rising that gets me down (I’ve been getting up early for a while now), but rather the darkness, wild animals and gastrointestinal distress.

Darkness. The only way to get in my run and make it to work by a respectable hour is to start by about 6:30am. This time of year, sunrise is officially around 7:22am but the light starts well before that.

Aside: I recently learned that, even though the shortest day of the year was Dec. 21, sunrise still keeps getting later and later until the first week in January. Check out the sunset equation and the equation of time Fascinating!

Anyways, at 6:30, it is still full dark. It wasn’t that big of a deal until I got onto the unlit trail where I promptly tripped on a bridge and then scared the bejeezus out of some cyclist as I bolted out of the darkness at him. Lesson #1 learned: wear a light.

Wild Animals. Sorry to shatter your expectations, but I was not attacked by wild animals on my run. I just saw a dead skunk, which had nothing to do with it being morning, but it was icky.

Gastrointestinal distress. There are 3 options for fueling for a morning run:

  1. Get up, have a nice breakfast, and get going
  2. Midnight snack: Get up during the night, eat, return to bed
  3. Awake and run sans breakfast

Option #3 is out of the question for me because I needs my energy. Unfortunately I choose option #1 and regretted it. I had my usual breakfast of cereal and a banana. When I got out running, I realized I had the low energy levels of option #3 (no time for food absorption) with the bonus of having a stomach that felt like lead while I tried to run. What else am I going to do, get up extra early, eat, and then wait around for ~1 hour to digest when I could have slept longer? Not hardly.

During the course of running with an angry stomach, I recalled a similar situation in which I had a banana for breakfast before running a 5k race. That particular morning ended with me on the side of the road, getting rid of some yellow vomit, about a quarter mile from the finish. Turns out, I didn’t learn my lesson then. Bananas and running do not agree.

Sadly, I did not get to see any yellow vomit on this run, but I did have to cut the run short. Lesson #2 learned … but just until I forget and go on another banana run.

Despite all of the negativity here, I still see great potential for the morning run with a few tweaks. I plan to try out option #2 above next. I am extremely excited about the concept of training myself to start sleep-eating. I’ll just leave myself a PB&J by the bed, set a 3am alarm, chow down, and probably not remember a thing.

Even with all the discomfort, there is a lot to be said for the morning run. I like making that transition from total darkness to morning light out on the trail alone. I was running with a full moon low in the sky in front of me and a golden sky creeping up behind and I thought, “I could start every day like this this one.” Because no matter what else happens later, with a good run in, the day is already a success.

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