Weekly Anchor #2: Planning morning runs
Personally, my preference is to run in the mornings before work. As it is, I have a natural tendency to wake up early without an alarm anyway. I always set one up just in case I am particularly tired, but on most days I end up turning it off before it sounds. However, this week that has not been the case, as my body is still trying to get used to and adjusted to the daylight savings time change we just had this past Sunday. Luckily this also happens to be Spring Break week at the school district where I work, so I have still been able to get my morning run in even though I am waking up about an hour or so later due to the time change.
Even though morning runs appear to create more of a challenge to our already busy lives, when I think about it and analyze it in detail, they can actually do quite the opposite when you contrast them with evening runs.
This was best illustrated by a coach I worked with a number of years ago who told me that while he understood we are all different and some people prefer to run in the evenings, he always recommends people try to run in the morning. First, because of the positivity and sense of accomplishment it brings to each day before we do anything else. And second, because even with our best plans in mind, life “happens during the day”, and that generally, a number of things “magically” appear to derail our evening running plans and make it tough to keep up with them; having to work late, tough traffic, being tired, stopping at the store to pick up things, taking kids to their activities, etc. In contrast, if we just make sure to set a few minutes aside each evening to plan ahead and organize our gear and clothes for the morning, we have a lot less obstacles to overcome to be able to run at that time.
What I have found to be most helpful for me is to visualize the plans for the morning run backwards, based on the key times I need for each phase, for example:
If I need to be at work by 8:00 a.m., and traffic generally takes 25 minutes, I need to leave here no later than 7:30 to expect to be there on time. If it takes me a half hour to take a shower, shave, get dressed, and be ready to leave for work, I need to be back from my run no later than 7:00. If I need to be back from my run no later than 7:00 and I am planning on running 4 miles at 10:00 min/mile pace, I need to start running no later than......you get the idea.
Working a plan backwards helps me understand and feel good about how things will flow, which lowers/eliminates the stress of having to think of those things when I am just waking up and not thinking quite clearly as to whether or not I will have enough time to run and be back on time to get ready to go to work.