Sunday, July 5, 2009

Running in the morning for beginners

It seems like these days everyone runs. Much like how everyone is a photographer. And a musician. And a writer. You know. But anyway, I'm going to make the assumption that based on the number of people I know that despise running, not everyone does it. And, I have this vague sense of wanting people I know & like to run (if for nothing else, my selfish desire to have people to run with), much like someone who likes music wants other people to hear their favorite albums, even if it will cause them great pain. It's good to know I'm still awesome at analogies.

Okay, so, with the decrease in time till I'll be in a wedding dress, I felt a sudden panic to exercise. I decided to start running on my own, in the mornings again, and I have a lot of free time lately and no car so there isn't much else to do.

In case you do not live in the southern US (more specifically eastern), you may be unaware of how hot summer is, and you might not know about humidity and how much hotter that makes, say, central Alabama, than any desert anywhere. There is a special trick to avoiding said heat, which is mind-numbing and torturous, and deadly for runners. Wake up before you thought was humanly possible, at the slightest hint of sunrise, and run then.

Outline for why you would do such a thing:

I. Avoiding the heat
a. it is less hot before the sun has properly risen.
-When Garrett and I had just met, in Natchez, I was waking up at 6:30 to go run since we had to leave for the site by 7:30. Until the sun stopped rising that early, it was really pleasant, I could run along the mississippi river, get back, shower, and then head out to dig in the heat the rest of the day. Now I get up between 6:30 and 7:30 (naturally, without an alarm) and it's not usually too hot. By 8 it's getting there. By 10 it is absolutely unbearable.
b. exercise makes you feel even hotter than you would just being outside. so take advantage of cooler temperatures, it's worth it...
II. You can psyche yourself out.
a. Your body is thinking: what are you thinking waking up this early? and is too preoccupied to prevent you from going out and exerting yourself. This process of fooling yourself also makes forming a habit of exercise easier. You are too tired to even argue with yourself about whether or not you should go running, and before you know if you've got your shoes on and you're ready to go.
III. Why run outside?
a. if you live in a nice area, running outside gives you a chance for variety and scenery, which is usually lacking in a gym.
b. running outside includes breezes, birds chirping, squirrels, the smell of flowers or bakeries, seeing other people running and saying hello...
-saying hello to people when I run is a nice addition to my morning. It re-instills the feelings that people are good, and nice, and want good things to happen to you.
-If you really hate other people, you could still say hello and the inevitable one or two people who won't nod or say anything back can justify your feelings of disdain toward the human race. Or, you can not say hello and be that person for us chipper folks.
c. I'm more able to forget what I'm doing when I'm running outside instead of on a treadmill. When I run outside I can just think. On a treadmill I'm obsessed with how fast I'm going, how much longer I have to run, how much I've already run. It makes it take forever.
d. you don't have to pay for it, get in the car and drive to it (in most cases), or feel self conscious about other people like you do at the gym.
e. Vitamin D and fresh air.
IV. Fewer people
a. when you wake up really early, there aren't many people out. Which means less traffic and fewer people in general. Which makes you feel more like you are in on something that everyone else isn't. Like it's exclusive and just for you.
V. This is a small, seemingly silly thing, but it has caused me problems more than once on mid afternoon races... when you wake up in the morning, you generally need to go to the bathroom. since you'll go running right away, your risk of needing to go while you're running and bouncing your body around, which is really uncomfortable.

Preparing to run:
1. If you aren't a runner, you probably have an aversion to doing so. I could go on about health benefits and the like, but really I'd say that it's not as hard as you think. And if distance is the part you can't imagine, you can start out small and work up as that distance becomes easy. Once you've run three miles before it's not really hard to get back to, even if you are out of shape. And you don't have to set a goal of running a marathon or keep increasing the amount. You should be applauded if you manage to keep up a routine of running 20-30 minutes everyday. I say everyday because the way I work, if I only run a few days a week it makes it so much easier to stop running. Routines aren't weekly for me, they are daily.
2. one of my xc coaches in high school told us you should dress as if the temp was going to be 20 degrees warmer than it is. Less helpful in the summer when you can't really take more clothes off. As far as dressing, you know the basics, materials that breathe, light colors when it's hot out, no long pants or shirts in the summer unless you are insane...
3. If you have an old pair of shoes, even if you hardly ever used them, you might think about investing in a new pair. Rubber gets old, and you should change shoes every 300-500 miles. Plus, you can buy shoes specific to the kind of running you'll be doing (trail, distance, road, etc.) and to your feet (specialty running stores can tell you if you over or under pronate and can help reduce risk of sprained ankles or just make your run more comfortable). I always get excited when I have a new pair of shoes. It makes me feel faster and better. Probably a placebo, but worth it. I had the same effect from a B vitamin before a race once. Who knows.

I'm sure a lot of you found this completely useless but I felt amused on my run this morning. And I am incredibly excited about maybe going to San Francisco in August. Hurray!

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