My friends often marvel how I can be awake and running around town when the majority of the campus is just starting to wake up and have their first thoughts about coffee or tea. Here’s the deal. I barely do. But I know that running in the morning is the easiest way for me to get a run in any given day. Afternoon runs are the bane of my existence; their planned mileage slowly dropping and sometimes disappearing altogether because by 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon I’m usually pretty hungry or tired and have little motivation to do anything but trudge to the dining hall 30 seconds from my room or flop onto my bed and reflect on how I’m so tired but somehow my to-do list hasn’t gotten any shorter.
Here we see the elusive Post 4 O’Clock Tess. She seems to be in her natural state of “tired as hell” and slightly delirious from the scarf that she seems to be (yes she is!) eating!
Why does running in the morning work for you Tess? I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED, ANONYMOUS COMMENTER! I have a big theory about this one guys. By the time I’m awake enough to really know what I’ve committed to I’m usually 1 or 2 miles in and at that point I see no reason to shorten the run from what I planned. At that point I’m too proud of myself and excited about what I’m doing to stop.
I’ll be real here though, sometimes it’s tough. And sometimes I’m nervous about a run. Like tonight!
So what do I do to alleviate these nerves and make things easier the next morning?
1. Set a really specific goal or distance. This helps me stick to what I’ve planned. If I’ve gotten it into my head that I’m doing 8 miles, then I’m going to do 8 miles the next morning without second guessing myself. I made that decision when I was awake and (usually) I’ve put some thought into the goal, which makes it hard for my half-awake/hopped-up-on-endorphins brain to contend with it.
2. Put out what you’re going to eat/wear/bring with you. This allows my mind to function on autopilot because past-Tess has done ALL the thinking. And by not having to think before I run, it’s harder to argue with the goal because my mind doesn’t want to do any work, but once it starts going it just goes. So instead I postpone the work that my mind might have to do. This also makes me less nervous the night before because I’ve already done everything I can and now it’s up to future-Tess to do the rest. And it’s literally impossible to forget something if it’s on top of what I’m wearing that morning.
Missing: earbuds, leggings, sports bra. (also let’s just admire that GOOOORGEOUS dorm room carpet. so chic, so… perfect for hiding dirt)
3. Watch motivational videos in the morning. It sounds cliché. But allow me to let you in on a little secret. It is cliché. Which is why it’s great. See, I’m in a different position than a lot of runners who wake up. I have to take my inhaler and then wait 30 minutes before I can go run. This means that I have to occupy my time somehow while I wait/do my hair/eat a little something something.
4. Check the weather. Mostly this just helps make an informed decision about number 2.
5. Set an alarm. I sometimes set two. This works with the whole mind on autopilot thing and still mostly being asleep. (confession: sometimes I don’t set an alarm if I know I need more sleep, but usually I wake up around 7:00 anyways)
I know everyone always says it, but preparation really is key. Without preparation my Saturday mornings would look a whole lot differently. But that’s usually it. It’s simple, easy. But so effective (for me) and I wouldn’t spend my Saturday mornings any other way.