Monday, February 17, 2014

How Morning Running is Perfect for Non-Morning People

I never wanted to be a morning runner.

If you’re a morning person, let me try to explain how non-morning people feel when they wake up. Or at least, how I felt. There’s an instant upon waking, when you’re swimming up out of sleepiness, when you become you again. Everything you think, your memories, your current status in life, and, most importantly, your usual outlook on life hits you like a wave. Everyone experiences this. For non-morning people, however, it happens in a specific, unfortunate order.

The first things non-morning people think of are the negative things. What was bad about yesterday? That hits you first. What might be unpleasant about today? Boom, second. This colors your perspective right away. Instead of bright and shiny optimism, you immediately put on a dull-colored, blurry filter, and you begin seeing yourself and everything in your life as obstacles, or impediments.

How I wake up

The good stuff does show up, usually during the morning routine or sometime during the day. But for me, it was always too late. The first thing that hit me when I surfaced from sleep was that wave of negativity, and you can’t be comfortable doing anything else, even in calm waters, when your day started with such horribleness. In fact, when you wake up, all you want to do is crawl back into sleep, and you dread doing even one small thing when all your life seems so awful. This is how every morning has been for me, for large parts of my life.

The picture is unrelated, I just felt like we need some cuteness after that parade of depressing

For the past two months, however, I’ve been getting up at 6 AM, every day, and running my 3.1 miles. In this winter, no less. So that brings me to today’s topic: why running in the morning is perfect for non-morning people.

To begin with, I started running this early because I had no other choice. I’m working two jobs, one of which involves ludicrous amounts of travel time, and if I didn’t run early in the morning, I wouldn’t get to run. Since running has become so important to me, I made myself do it.

This is an important first step.

If you’re a non-morning person, there is NO WAY to become a morning runner without this first act of desperate willpower. Hide the alarm clock, go to bed in your running clothes, or have a spouse/SO/sibling/parent/whoever throw cold water on your face and MAKE you get up.

Find your own Ferris Bueller if you have to

Now, I recognize that tons of people talk about this. I know that us non-morning people have been told a hundred times, in a hundred ways, all the great things about getting up and being super productive! I KNOW it gets old.

So I’m going to tell you why running in particular spectacularly kicks the ass of the morning blahs.

You wake up, and you’re going to run. You repeat that mantra, the snarling tiger of NO roars and claws in your chest, but you make yourself do it.

Ugh, you feel drowsy, you hate running, this is just going to make you hate running more, and where are your shoes? It’s not even LIGHT outside, I’m probably going to get murdered, I bet my bed is still warm from where I was curled up.

How sleeping looks at this stage

All the negativity is still there, and right now, reading this, you probably still don’t want to do it BECAUSE all the negativity will still be there. But that’s the trick. That’s what is so great about morning running for non-morning people. I'm not saying not to be negative when you wake up. But if you make yourself run and wake up with that intention, all the negativity will be focused like a laser on just that. It won’t be about the unchangeable past or the unknowable future; it will be focused on an activity that you are about to do, right now.

If you run, you will start each day by definitively defeating something that seemed insurmountable to your half-sleeping mind. Last week, you could barely drag yourself to the shower, but this morning? It’s not even time for breakfast and you ran a mile. Two miles, half a mile, whatever.

THAT will be your new perspective. You didn’t wake up burdened by past and future obstacles, you woke up kicking ass. Do this for long enough, and you’ll come to cherish the morning like Pavlov’s dog loved that bell.

So if you hate mornings and can’t imagine running then, you are in the PERFECT position to start. It works better the more you hate the idea of doing it. 

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