Yesterday I tole you about the single best inspiration I got when I first started running in 2000, the comment to go longer.
Today I’ll tell you what was the single best advice I received at that time, the suggestion to run early. I consider these two conversations, both so different, to be the linchpins of whatever success I have enjoyed as a runner, I really do. I can relive both conversations in my mind’s eye as if they occurred eight days ago instead of eight years ago.
I was talking with a colleague at work about my effort to lose weight by running and dieting. She said simply, "Run in the morning. That way you’ll never have an excuse not to run."
So simple and yet so...true. Her advice immediately took hold in me and I developed the habit of arising from bed, donning my running apparel, going to the curb and beginning my run in about 3-4 minutes. I would run 2.1 miles out and back at a swift pace and be back in under twenty minutes. I would head inside and enter the shower in about 2-3 minutes. That was it. I went from lying in bed to entering the shower, my run already done, in twenty-five minutes.
I stayed with this routine for at least three years until it became ingrained. I developed a liking for running alone. It gave me time to reflect, to sort things out. When my wife filed for divorce, thus initiating five years of nuclear litigation, running kept me sane. Because divorce litigation is insane.
My routines have changed somewhat, to be sure. I like running with people now. I don’t run so fast. I run longer (further). Sometimes I run on the Mall at noon.
But whenever I need to jump start my running, I return to 6:30 a.m. runs of short and fast duration. My old standby route is 2.5 miles out and back on a nearby secondary road that cuts through the warren of subdivisions around where I live. This run includes a pretty nice hill and has a large school parking lot at its furthest point, which I use for running backwards while pretending to be an NFL cornerback. There are a few steps there too which I pound up and down whenever nobody is around.
If I hit the turnaround point at right around ten minutes, I’m running well and will finish with sub-eight minute miles (it’s downhill on the way back). Those are morning runs worth remembering. Evening runs just aren’t the same.