This morning started like most Tuesday and Thursday mornings do for me: with my alarm going off at 5:33 a.m. (because yes, that extra 3 minutes totally makes a difference) and me questioning my own sanity at agreeing to do a 6 a.m. run. I have a lot of people ask how I get myself out of bed in the morning for early runs. “Oh, you must be a morning person,” they’ll say. “It’s probably easy for you.”
But no. I don’t think it’s ever easy to get up at 5:33 a.m., at least not for me, especially now that the summer morning light is no longer on our side.
For at least a few minutes after my alarm goes off, I lie there in bed, thinking about canceling the run. “Just think how nice it would feel to roll over and go back to bed,” my mind tells me. “It’s so cozy and warm in here. You don’t really want to get up and go running in the dark right now, do you? Most people are still asleep. Why don’t you just take the easy way out, too?”
This is where having a morning run buddy, at least for me, is key. It’s pretty easy to bail on yourself for a morning run – you’re not disappointing anyone but yourself, and while I know I’ll be bummed later that I didn’t get up and go, it’s can be hard to remember that when you’re warm and cozy and it’s pitch black outside. But when you have someone to meet, there’s a lot less wiggle room. I know I don’t want to disappoint my friend – I said I’d be there, and I will be. So I drag myself out of bed, have some water and a quick snack (I’ve discovered the Oatmeal Cookie Energy Bites I wrote about yesterday are a great pre-run snack), throw on my running gear, and I’m out the door.
I’m still questioning my sanity when I get outside. It’s dark, and the streets are quiet. The sun won’t be up until 6:45 a.m., still well before a lot of people are getting up and ready to head to work.
This morning, I was meeting my buddy Heather for a run. She’s right on time, and after a couple minutes of stretching out and rubbing our bleary eyes, we’re off.
And then, a mere few minutes into the run, and I remember why I do this to myself: because, once I’m over the worst part, simply getting out of bed and out the door, I love it.
Because there’s no better way to start your day than with a run and a friend by your side.
Because I love seeing the city in its sleepy, pre-dawn state.
Because I love getting a view of the sunrise that most people will miss.
Because I love seeing the other runners out that early and smiling knowingly to each other, feeling like we’re part of a special club, with each of us understanding why the other is up and out and exploring the streets at such an early hour.
Because I love that we get the normally tourist-packed D.C. monuments and reflecting pool to ourselves, even just for a little while.
Because I know that no matter how the rest of my day goes, no matter how busy or stressed or overwhelmed I get, at least I had this time to myself, just for me, with nothing to do but chat with a good friend and keep my legs moving.
A little over an hour after we started, Heather and I stop running, head into the metro, and part ways. It’s only 7:10 a.m. and we’ve already run over 7 miles. Endorphins are surging, and I smile. I’ll tackle the rest of the day with a calmer mind and strong legs, knowing that no one can take those miles, that time in the early morning with the beauty of our own city, that sense of accomplishment we now feel, away from us.
And that, my friends, is what I’ll be reminding myself again and again, every time that alarm clock goes off and the cycle starts all over. This is why it’s worth it. This is why I drag myself out of bed at an ungodly hour when I know it would be easier to just sleep in.
The challenge is just to remember that when it’s more convenient to forget. :)