This past week I was enjoyed a couple of nights away int’ countryside, returning in fact to a place that has been the subject of one of my previous ramblings. This trip allowed once again for an early-morning dash through idyllic countryside, offering passing pleasantries to bemused farm animals. Whilst on the receiving end of yet another stupefied stare from a confused cow, I got to wonder more generally: is first thing in the morning the best time for a run if I take into consideration all the pros and cons? I mean, sure, its just me and nature’s beasties out here now. Which is nice. But what if I shatter both ankles and fall into a ditch and die of hypothermia? Those cows aren’t going to summon the air ambulance. Probably. Imagine that though – Britain’s Got Talent or similar wouldn’t know what had hit it. Performing dog? Pfft, make way for my calamity cow. Anyway…
Over the course of the time I’ve been running* I’ve been out an about at all times of the day, so feel I am reasonably well placed to give my personal opinions on the matter. There’s far too much idiosyncratic nonsense to pack into one blog post, so I’ve split it into three. In this post I’ll discuss my pros and cons for getting up first thing in the morning for a crack o’ dawn jaunt.
My early morning running – the pros:
1) In the best-case scenario, there are no people about. In most cases, there are less people about. And those tend to be limited to furious/broken middle-aged gentlemen out walking what is clearly the wife’s little dog.
2) Something I read once said that the pre-breakfast run is the best for fat burning because…well, science. And as I tend to favour the ‘climb out of bed and into the running kit then go’ approach, I’m safe in the knowledge I’m burning flab like Richard Simmons** on acid.
3) I can run past every house with it’s curtains still drawn and think ‘I’m up! You’re not! And thus, I’m surely better than all you people!’ Think, though. Don’t say out loud. Or indeed shout whilst gesticulating wildly. People take a dim view of that.
4) Once you get back from an early morning run you feel great all day.
5) And even if you don’t, you have the default position of ‘At least I don’t have to go for a stupid run later because I’ve already done it YEAH’ to fall back on.
6) First thing in the morning, everything is fresh and unspoilt. Hypothetically.
So, there’s a lot to like about being out for a run before most of your fellow humans have clambered out of the slumber pit. However, there are two sides to every coin. Well, not that one that Two-Face from Batman has. Or those one’s I’d buy from the joke shop in Whitby as a kid to try and fool my Grandma. But MOST COINS HAVE TWO DAMN SIDES, ALRIGHT? AND IT’S JUST A…METAPHOR? SIMILE? CHRIST ALMIGHTY, WHY MUST EVERYTHING BE SO HARD?!??! Aaaaaand breathe…
My early morning running – the cons:
1) Just escaping the lure of the duvet can be a similar struggle to that of a wounded space shuttle attempting to break free of the Earth’s gravitational pull.
2) And because of that, a certain amount of dread can sneak into the minutes before the alarm clock sounds to declare ‘Aloha! It’s running time!’ Which is multiplied significantly should the sound of lashing rain and/or howling winds be heard…
3) I once read (I really must stop reading you know) that because blood tends to be thicker first thing in the morning, the dawn exerciser is more at risk of some sort of medical cloggage. And no one wants that.
4) It tends to be somewhat cooler first thing in the morning. Now, I can hear people cry ‘but in the summer that’s a good thing Ben, surely’. Well, if we were talking about somewhere warm, you’d be right. But this is the North-East of England, where we stuff out children into a freshly-slayed Tauntaun every evening to keep them warm ‘til we get the shelter built. Hence, it can be a bit nippy first thing. And come the winter ‘a bit nippy’ can become a contender for Understatement Of The Year. I’ll always remember coming back from one particular December-morning run to find my eyelashes had frozen. Yes, really.
5) For large parts of the year, it’s dark first thing. And darkness is where the demons lurk. Now, on a scale of 1 to ridiculous I’m not too bad when it comes to being afraid of the dark, but I’m not overly keen on blundering straight into pitch-blackness like a man late to his own funeral. Regular readers will not be surprised to hear this is where the ol’ inner monologue comes into its own, with predictions of ‘an imminent disembowelling from a 10-foot supernatural hedge-man’ or similar.
6) If, like me (although I am getting better) you can’t just go out for ‘a gentle run’ without feeling like you ‘really should be pushing yourself harder’ then the morning is not the best time for such stupidity, as the legs (and indeed large parts of the rest of me) are usually still somewhat asleep. I’m not worrying any PBs before breakfast. As the saying goes. What saying? Oh shut up.
There you have it. The morning run: like a military coup, it’s fraught with both opportunity and danger.
* – For a moment I wanted to refer to ‘the time I’d been running’ as ‘my running journey’ but then had to stop whilst I punched myself in the face.
** – I couldn’t remember his name, so I put ‘keep fit dude’ into Google and up he came. Good old idiot-proof Internet…