I’ve been in the habit of going for a morning run nearly every day for the last three months (excluding weekends). Usually, it’s just 3 miles, but I try to add in a few longer days. It’s difficult to get out of the house at a quarter past five to run three miles. It’s even more difficult to leave at a quarter to five to run for six.
I used to run at night when I got home from work, or take my stuff in during the day and run at lunch time. But these runs usually get delayed by some problem or other. There’s no predictability so there is no routine. I’ve brought my running kit to work for days at a time, but would usually be delayed by a meeting or a server problem or (most likely) my hunger. So the morning runs are proving easier. At least there is routine.
Running in December is difficult. It’s really dark and often icy. I’ve slipped once or twice, but no major injuries. I run even if it’s raining, because I sweat so much that it doesn’t matter after a few minutes how much it is pouring. If it’s coming down too hard, I pull down the visor on my baseball cap to keep the rain out of my eyes.
It’s cold when I step outside and sometimes it really hits me when I open the door. But, if I can just get started, I won’t notice the chill too much. If I can get past the urge to close the door and go back inside, I’m okay.
Running through the town, I look for streetlights to follow. I have one or two routes with limited darkness. Occasionally I carry a wind-up torch with me, but this often is too much to carry. I don’t like the torch because of the shadows it casts on the trees and bushes when I run past them. I also feel like a choo choo train and should be panting “chugga chugga chugga chugga, choo choo!”
I see very few people out on the roads– most of the time I just see old people out walking their dogs. I try not to let the idea of muggers creep into my head as I’m running. I admit that on rare occasions I start to think about alien abductions I’ve read about as a kid and that just makes me run faster (I don’t believe in alien abductions, but when it’s dark and you are outside, your mind tells you that it’s better to be safe than sorry and better head home quick). I once saw a fox running across the road and I nearly jumped out of my skin.
I listen to my IPOD nano. I have a playlist which hasn’t varied much in the last six months. I constantly skip through tracks, telling myself to update my playlist next time I’m at the computer. I’ve occasionally listened to audiobooks or podcasts, but music works best for me. My mind wanders too much when I’m running and it’s difficult to rewind audio books for a few minutes while trudging forward.
The nice thing about running is that, aside from the music, it’s just me and my thoughts on the road. As much as I would like to say that I was very observant and “in the moment” in a zen-like way as I run, I really just daydream or think about the day ahead. While on runs, I’ve come up with technical solutions to problems I’ve had the previous day at work or replay things in my head that I’ve seen on tv.
This is why I like running. I was never very good at team sports as a kid and I still consider sport as more a source of emotional scars than a source of good times and glory days. I’ve tried the gym thing, but I don’t fit in there. I could never understand how someone who works all day, could talk about spending their evening at the gym– like they were going to the cinema or something. I don’t like the exhibitionism of the gym. People watch you–either because they are waiting for the equipment you are on or because they want to tell you why you are using it wrong. With running, no one watches you– and you are not self-conscious about how you look while you are doing it.
The hardest part of running early in the morning is getting dressed. Seriously. Each morning, I get up and have a cup of coffee and maybe surf or research some of the technologies I’ve heard about the previous day. I have my running clothes nearby, but I just need to put them on. Once they are on, I’m committed. It’s too much to take them back off again instead of spending 25 minutes for a quick 3-mile run. I admit that there are times when I’ve looked at the clothes and justified to myself why I wasn’t going to run that day. “I probably need a rest.” “The weather is pretty bad out there.” “I’ll run for longer tomorrow.” However, if I can just get through the getting dressed part, I’ve practically run already.
So, right now I’m sitting at the pc and my clothes and shoes sit by the door. I’m going to wrap this up and put them on. It’s 3 degrees outside right-now according to the weather widget on my Google desktop sidebar. That mean’s it shouldn’t be icy, but it will be cold. In 40 minutes, it will be over and I will feel better for having done it.