Has earning a living ever interfered with your training schedule? As nice as it would be to focus on just running, most of us do not have that luxury. I made the switch to early morning runs after a recent job change, and I discovered some surprising benefits to running before the sun comes up.
Dedication. You are going to realize that you're different from the rest when you get up in the pre-dawn hours to go run. What drives you to get up and run in the elements while others stay warm and cozy under their comforters? Only you can answer that question. And you will. Every time you drag yourself out of bed to put on your running shoes.
Solitude. The measured sounds of your breathing and your footsteps can be almost hypnotic. The wind in the trees seems louder than normal, the waves crashing on the shore can be heard from half a mile away. The sounds of running and the natural world are harmonious. Without the intrusion of traffic and people, the early morning run can be a great time for reflection or just living in the moment.
Energy. The greatest way to jump start your day is with an early morning workout. I always feel more productive and ready to take on the day if I start with a run. If you snack throughout the day on healthy foods and stay hydrated you can ride that wave of energy right through to the end of the day.
Community. There are very few individuals out for a run before the sun comes up, but those that you see are your kind of people. A wave, a nod or a simple thumbs-up can be expected at that time of day. No words are necessary -- you both know and appreciate what it means to be out there.
Sunrise. My runs start with a headlamp. I follow a small sphere of light as I begin my run. The road signs, the mailboxes, and the eyes of unknown critters reflect the glare back at me as I pass. After a few miles I can turn the headlamp down a notch, but still need it to warn early morning commuters of my presence. And then, there is that majestic moment when the sun rises above the horizon and lights up our world.
Runners, walkers, and cyclists know that there is nothing better than getting outside to breathe fresh air and enjoy the natural world in which we live. The next time you set your alarm for that early morning workout, remember the benefits of your efforts, the goals you set for yourself, and the beauty that awaits you.
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