by Anne Brennan
My friend Greg is a predawn runner. He enjoys his early morning runs so much that he has created a blog around the joys of predawn running. Though my husband does not profess a love of predawn running, he does admit that he enjoys being out before the sunrises, greeting the same people along the trail each morning and knowing that his coffee will be brewing when he arrives back at the house happy and covered in sweat.
I, on the other hand, am not a believer. When my daughter entered school fulltime ten years ago leaving me at home alone twiddling my thumbs, I embraced the joys of the post drop-off run. I fell in love with waking up with the kids, having breakfast, drinking my coffee and walking the kids to school before heading out for my run. I developed a routine that has worked well for me for a decade.
But in the past few months I have come to realize that there is no shop, either at the mall or online, where I can buy a couple of extra hours for my day and I am coming to accept that I need to make the move to predawn running.
Unfortunately, accepting it and liking it isn’t necessarily the same thing. I truly hate predawn runs and though I am sure there will come a time when there is a joy that comes with being out before the birds begin their songs, I have a hard time picturing it.
This hate is embarrassing really. Like ballet and poetry, I want to love predawn running. I want to find a peace in the quiet of the morning. I want come home feeling like I can check that off my list. I want to feel more productive because I have accomplished more in the predawn hours than most people will accomplish all day.
But so far that has not been my experience. So far, though I did see four herons on my run this morning, I haven’t appreciated a moment of the early runs. Instead, I spend the entire time trying to get through an hour and twenty minute run a little quicker so that I can be home with the kids, making breakfast, reading the paper and drinking my coffee. So far, I spend more time wondering why my legs don’t move as fast at five a.m. as they do at ten. I spend the run worrying about fueling and how wrong I seem to have gotten it, what is not getting done while I am out of the house in the morning and what will have to be done when I get home.
To make matters worse I spend the rest of the day trying to figure out a way to get in another workout because the predawn run never seems to stick around through the day. I always feel like I need another workout and usually find a way to sneak one in, thus losing the hour and a half I bought in the morning.
But I was reminded this morning of something I tell new runners all the time. “You have to build a habit.” I was reminded that when I first started running, I didn’t love it. After my first run, I never wanted to run again, but I did. I did because I needed to.
So, tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off at the ungodly hour of five a.m., I will get up, lace up my shoes and build the habit. And I will remain hopeful that one day I will have built a habit that brings me the same joys my runs have brought me for twenty years.