So, maybe you’ve noticed, but I run pretty damn early in the morning. Early enough that if I were to be attacked by a mad dog and/or a herd of deer, no one would be around to hear my screams.
I should also note that even if I don’t plan on running, I still wake up at 5am. This is because I am a full-blown, 100%, chipper-without-coffee morning person. I wake up and do homework or laundry or whatever needs to be done because I’m most productive and efficient in the mornings. Plus, with that and a run out of the way, I don’t have to worry about getting anything done later. Although I do experience a strange boost in energy around 3 or 4pm, I am otherwise useless to the world past noon. Oh yeah, and I go to bed at 8. Clearly I’m the life of the party.
But this is me. I am different. I am different than most people and that’s cool with me. However, I feel like I give off the impression that one has to run in the morning, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I just do it because I like getting it out of the way early… and because mornings are the only time I can manage to say my name with stumbling over the words. Mornings are my time. But they may not (and are probably not) your time.
When I first started running, it was mid-January and pitch-black til 8am. I also had to wake up at six anyway in order to get to school (long story short, my high-school commute was probably longer than your work commute). Running in the morning wasn’t a thing that even occurred to me. I ran when I got home from school, which was around 4:30. And it killed me. I was insane enough to want to finish the training program and the 10k race we were shooting for, so I kept at it. But after the race, I immediately stopped running. I just wasn’t enjoying it; I was already exhausted by the time I got home. Remembering that I still had a run to do nearly (and maybe did) drive me nuts.
When I picked up running again last fall, I luckily had no obligations that required my leaving the house before 10am. So I did what felt natural, and ran first thing in the morning. And it didn’t suck balls, to my surprise. I loved it! I came home energized and with a feeling of achievement that stuck with me for the rest of the day. I’d finally found a way to enjoy running, which ended the feeling of having to go for that run. Now I wanted to.
The running-specific moral of this story is that in order to be a successful runner, and be more likely to stick to your training program and achieve your goals, you’ve got to work out a schedule that works for you. Running at 5 may be your thing, or maybe it’s something more reasonable like 8. Or you may want to do it in the afternoons or evenings when you’re home from school. You might be a total freak who goes to a 24-hr gym at 11pm to bust out a 10 miler. Whatever it is, you’ve got to fit your runs in in a way that works for you, no matter what time other people like to run.
This extends past what time of day to run. It’s also important to make sure your weekly schedule fits with your other obligations. This spring, when I began a half-marathon program, my long runs always landed on a Saturday. This was fine for about a month until I started working at 9 on Saturdays. I had to wake up at ridiculous hours (even for me) in order to fits the long run in before work, but for whatever idiotic reason I didn’t change my schedule. I had Tuesdays and Wednesdays off, why didn’t I do my runs then? Long story short, I was exhausted all weekend because I was stupid and didn’t adjust my schedule. Finally I got the hint this September, and now I do my long runs on Thursdays, when I don’t have to be at school til 1 o’clock. And it works a lot better.
So, in conclusion, don’t be stupid. If you want to be a runner, making running fit your life, not the other way around.
And because this post lacked any hilarious jokes about flesh wounds or habits of deer, here’s something for you: