Saturday, February 2, 2013

Get up already

Hopefully I'm not repeating myself with this post, but it occurred to me that except for this topic occasionally coming up in the comments section, I've never discussed my routine as a steadfastly morning runner.  And I've gotten enough questions ("how do you have time to run so many miles a week!") that I might as well walk through it with y'all.

There are so many different ways to go about morning running.  You can be really prepared about it by getting up hella early and taking the time to fully wake up, eat some food, warm up, stretch, get a lot of miles in.  You can wake up with just enough time to have coffee, hit the bathroom, and go.  You can sleep in your running clothes.  You can run in the dark, with a headlamp or a friend.  You can head to the treadmill in your basement or drive to the gym or a lit track.

You can also forget about all the logistics of being a morning runner and run instead during your lunch break, or after work, or when your kid is napping/at school, or after dinner.

Probably not surprising to those of you who noticed I am prone to cut corners when it comes to saving time (arriving at a race 4 minutes before it starts....not stretching, not doing yoga, not doing squats....eating pre-packaged food instead of planning out a nice evening meal), but my morning running is all about minimalism.

1) I WILL NOT drive anywhere.  It's out my front door or nothing.  Occasionally I will run to the gym (0.5 mile away) and sometimes I will drive the half-hour to my "temporary" glamour gym near my work so that I can swim in the a.m.  But for time saving purposes, all of my outdoor morning runs are out the front door.

2) I do not take the time to wake up.  I often start waking up when I hit 20 yards of running and realize my legs are moving and I'm not dreaming.  My first mile is usually 9:00 minutes on the dot.  Slow and steady, waking up.

3) I do not eat.  Do not eat, do not eat before a work morning run.  I do eat on the weekends before a run, because those runs usually start at 10:00 a.m. or later, and I wouldn't make it 2 miles without eating.  But weekday runs, no food, which feels fine up to 18 miles.  I do drink water while I run.

This has always felt 100% fine for me energy wise, and I know a lot of other runners operate this way. I attribute it to years of adjusting to morning running (I first tested out running in the morning in high-school to get a leg up on my soccer endurance, so we're talking around 12 years).  Since those high school years, I have eaten high calorie dinners, and I think my body kind of knows that it needs to store up for the next morning because it loves to eat right before bed.  I'll eat dinner sometime between 7:30-9:00, then snack or dessert until bed.  I don't go to bed stuffed, but I never go to bed anything close to hungry.  If I even think I might be almost near hungry, I have a snack.  I guess that is called "topping it off" before bed.  And I feel great on morning runs thanks to it.

4) No coffee.  It would sure help to get the bathroom sitch done quicker, but I don't want to take the time to make it, drink it, and I like the boost caffeine gives me on race days as someone who is not immune to it from drinking it daily.

5) Alarm.  Once I wake up, with an alarm or on my own shortly before the alarm, I'm up for good.  No snooze button necessary.  I will turn off the alarm, and just lay there for 5-10 minutes.  Soaking in the warmth of the bed.  Consider not running and going back to sleep, but somehow, I always choose the run over sleep.  Then I get up, and unless I have a battle with my Garmin or the bathroom, I'm out the door in 15 minutes.

6) Post-run.  Only the rest of the world has to suffer from the fact that I don't put much time into beautifying myself.  I stretch for 2 minutes, shower in 3 minutes, put clothes on in 3 minutes, put make-up on and brush my hair in 2 minutes, throw my breakfast/lunch/snacks into my workbag and drive away.  Average 10-15 minutes.  This means I get to run 2 more miles in the morning than if I took 30 minutes to get ready! yay!

20-minute face.  You're welcome EVERYBODY

10-minute prep.  Sorry world!

As for the evening, I can run up to maybe 5 or 6 miles, but in general evening running is not for me.  After commuting home, I want to go on a slow walk or hit the couch.  Since I stand most of the day at work, the couch feels welcome.

My standing work station keeps evolving.  This is the current creation.  

Also, I am typically a solo runner, but when it comes to evening running I prefer to have company.  Analyze THAT.

7) Depending on when I wake up, I usually give myself time to run from 1-2 hours, which means anywhere from 7-16 miles depending on how fast I'm going.  I seem to hit the 11-14 mile range most often.

What's your morning running routine? Or lunch, evening? Does anyone switch it up?


I'm running a half marathon tomorrow in San Francisco.  Since I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt of being TOO COOL to stay at home on a Saturday night reading blogs, and TOO AWESOME to be awake before 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday, I will probably have finished the thing before you read this.  So....I just ran a half marathon.  Unless something went terribly wrong.  Hopefully I didn't just curse myself.

I'm hoping to run a few miles before and after to make it a long run, even though last time I did this I regretted it fiercely.  But since I don't know where to park, I'm forced to use running as my means of transportation to the start line.  And back home.  It works out.

Plan: run hard, see how my leg-lock/buttcrease behaves.  It's so off and on these days.  There were a few days earlier this week where I was like "yes! It's gone, I can't find it!" and then woke up the next day with a tight buttcrease.  blerg!

Plan Ruiner: the story of a toothache is not a very interesting one, but it is a true story and it has attacked my running this week, in a few ways.

See, I have a toothache.  It developed last Sunday evening, and by Wednesday morning after two nights of laying (lying?) awake in pain, I made an emergency dentist appointment.  I had been loading my body with all sorts of pain relief drugs (something I never do....I hate drugs) and none of them were doing a thing.

I either have an infection underneath a crown (I had a root canal on this tooth 8 years ago) or the tooth is "cracked" underneath the crown.  I'm on day 4 of penicillin (which I was warned may have unpleasant side effects that nobody wants to have while trying to run a half-marathon...)  I'm on day 7 of avoiding crunchy foods, and of chewing on my non-dominant side of my mouth, both which make one of my favorite things (eating!) less enjoyable.  And I'm on day 3 of blissful sleep, pain free, thanks to codeine.

I'm not too worried about how the drugs and tooth pain impacts my run tomorrow, but if the pain persists, I'm going to have to schedule surgery to get it yanked which may mean having to take a week off (at least that's what I recall happening when I got my wisdom teeth removed).  This makes me worry a little, since I am 4 weeks out from a marathon.

But then I can say, "I should have PR'd, but, my tooth!" and I will gracefully bow, having gifted the blog world the lamest marathon fail excuse ever known.

Week so far:

Monday: 9.2 miles.
Tuesday: 15 miles a.m. 4 miles p.m. (19 total).
Wednesday: 11.3 miles a.m. (3 x 2 miles at about a 6:55 pace with a half mile recovery in between).
Thursday:  12.8 miles a.m. (4 miles of fartleks followed by hilly slow run); 3 miles p.m. (holding a massive burrito from a taco truck for the last mile for strength training). (15.8 total)
Friday: 4.6 miles.
Saturday: 0 miles.

Now go watch the Superbowl and update your Facebook status so everyone knows that YOU are watching it and that YOU especially love sports.  Damn, you're cool!


  1. Since I'm neither too cool nor too awesome, hope you have a great race tomorrow.

    A change in my work schedule means I need to start being a morning runner, and I'm dreading it. I know the answer is to just shut up, don't think, just do. But I hate morning. I like running at night. Wah wah whine.

  2. Definitely not too cool to be home reading blogs on Saturday night. ;)

    Hope you have / had a great race! I hate the parking situation at Kaiser. It majorly sucks. Also I really really wish I could run in the mornings -- I get what you mean about running at a certain time of day just not being for you.

  3. I tend to run whenever I get the chance. On weekdays I'll run on my lunch hour if I have to, but I work in an industrial park next to two really busy roads so it's the last option. Usually I'm an evening runner, although I have a fondness for how quiet the world is when I haul myself out of bed to run in the a.m. What time do you have to be at work? I feel like I never have time for more than 4-5 miles in the morning. On weekends I'm definitely a morning runner.

    Although at the moment I'm a not-at-all-runner as I wait to get some MRI results.

  4. You are just an amazing person with your time. I've worked in a law firm and been married and even before my baby no way I could get the miles that you get in. Well if I ran a bit faster I could get more miles in. You are the awesome.

  5. Another loser reading blogs on a Saturday night... ;)
    I used to be an afternoon runner, but have definitely become more of a morning runner. My schedule is flexible enough where I can run pretty much whenever I want, but running in the morning gives me less time to talk myself out of it. The only problem for me is the bathroom situation -- I usually have to be awake for about 30 min before my GI tract decides to wake up and do its thing. (sorry if TMI!)

    Good luck tomorrow!!!

  6. Are you running Kaiser tomorrow morning? Or, Run with the Jets or whatever? I'll be at Kaiser if you're there!

    (AND, I can NOT run in the morning. I'm sort of incompetent about it.)

  7. I'm a Mother Hen so of course Im reading your blog at 6:37 am on a Sunday morning while my youngest plays. In the summer I am a great morning runner but in the winter when it's 20 degrees and windy, I hate adding dark into that combination. I am always envious of those who are done 7-10 milers before I have my coffee though. Hope your half is going well and the tooth is feeling better.

  8. Darn, my son is preventing me from being awesome! You and I are very similar in terms of the amount of time we need to get ready. I usually finish my makeup in the train:)
    Even if you have to have the tooth pulled, you will be fine in 1 day. It will be nothing like having the wisdom teeth pulled out. Trust me on this one. No worries!
    Hope you are going to have a great race (it is 5 am over there now:). Good luck!

  9. I don't often run in the morning, but when I do, it goes exactly like you. Swimming is much the same, though because of the timing I have to eat a little something before the swim. Eating right afterward is a huge must!

    Not gonna watch the Superbowl. Going to finish breakfast, research future blogs for a couple hours, then do a spin session.

  10. Morning running. I hate it but with my hours, it's so much easier. I have also found once I'm up, clothes on and out the door. No eating, drinking or anything...not time wasting. Right now since it's too icey outside I have to run on the treadmill which adds an extra 10 minutes to get too the gym...I hope your half went well. :-)

  11. Morning runs aren't my cup of tea, especially in the winter. Lately it's been in the double digit negatives for windchill here which doesn't exactly call my name. Always say that I'm going to run before I drive my hubby to the train in the am, but it never happens and I usually end up squeezing my miles in before I head to work. Showering sometimes becomes optional. I do down as much coffee as possible before heading out, feel it helps me have some focus and energy. But if I had it my way, I would run everyday at 10/11 am. In a perfect world!

    Hope your half is off to a great start and that tooth is behaving! Funny how much our teeth can effect our welfare isn't it!

  12. Damn, I am one of the losers up before 10 a.m. on a Sunday. Hope you ran a good race and the tooth didn't bother you. I've been having some weird tooth pain under a crown too. It started when I had the flu, then it went away and now it's back. Procrastinating calling the dentist until it's unbearable.

    And because I am immature: I LIKE TOPPING IT OFF BEFORE BED TOO. HUH, HUH.

  13. WHOA WHAT. There are hummingbirds on your blog now. Cool. I hope you are enjoying your half marathon as we speak (time differences, yay!)

    I'm with you on every bit of this. Commuting to go run somewhere else during the week is an annoying time-suck... I'm someone with plenty of time-flexibility right now and I still hate doing that. And yeah, no food, no lounging around, nothing fancy before I run in the morning. If I'm not out the door within ~12 minutes of waking up on a weekday, something has gone wrong. And sleepwalking through the first few miles at 1:00+ min/mi slower than usual is definitely a standard for me.

  14. I'm such a baby about running in the morning. I'm scared to go by myself in the dark, which means I have to run to the gym and run on the treadmill and I HATE the treadmill. So I usually run after school, which is actually kind of nice because it helps me de-stress after spending the entire day around far too many hormonal middle schoolers.

  15. I SHOULD run in the morning but when it's dark and not warm I just can't get out of bed, so I've taken to stroller running during the day instead. It's not ideal. But as soon as it gets light, I'll convert to the mornings again - I do love morning running once I'm out the house.
    Hope Kaiser went well...I did a 10k here in the UK, it was FREEZING. But I got a lion shaped medal!! I'm never going to complain about Bay Area temperatures again!

  16. I love morning running, however I live in West Michigan *pause for sympathy* and we currently have a foot and a half of snow on the ground. If I get up too early, nothing is shovelled or plowed, so usually it's evening running in the snow months and the non-snow months (because those are the only kind months) are usually early morning. Nothing feels better than a nice long run before the sun comes up!

  17. I run (or do other workouts) in the morning. In the past, I have successfully worked out at mid-day or in the evening, but I'm usually way too tired from long work days (in-house lawyer still dealing with after-effects of financial crisis) to work out in the evening. My usual routine:

    - Husband (you know, the one I mentioned before - the great runner with the awesome butt) sets alarm and preps the coffee machine the night before.

    - In the morning, the alarm goes off (usually around 6 if we're working out). Husband removes cats from forehead or groin (or both), retrieves fresh coffee from kitchen and brings it to me in bed. (This was one of his wedding vows. The coffee part. Not the part about peeling cats off his groin. He even gets up and brings me coffee when I'm the only one who is working out in the morning.)

    - Then we lie there and try to wake up. Sometimes we fail, but the fuzzy alarm clocks usually won't let us sleep in. The prospect of having one my earrings chewed off is usually enough to get me moving. That the fact that one of the cats likes to snap my nightgown straps (sort of like living with a fuzzy teenage boy with fish breath).

    - Get dressed in whatever I can find that's not too stinky. Head downstairs to the gym in our apartment building. (There are lots of things I don't like about living in an overpriced rental in NYC but having a good, free gym in my building isn't one of them.)

    - I suppose I should run outside more often but, frankly, I think outdoors is overrated. (I grew up in a small town in British Columbia, where they made you pass an overnight outdoor survival test before moving onto to junior high. I've had enough outside to last forever. I run races outside (a couple of times a month) and I walk to and from work eveyr day, so that's enough for me.

    - Back upstairs to feed myself and get cleaned up. Shower, blow dry hair (since it's only about 2 inches long this takes about 17 seconds), apply moisturizer so that skin doesn't peel off in frigid, dry NYC climate, and get dressed. (All that takes about 10 minutes.) Peel cats off shoulders and torso and head out the door. Chase cats down apartment hallway (sort of a fartlek workout). Place cats back in apartment. Remember to kiss husband goodbye. Walk to work.

  18. I do not run in the morning. I am lucky if I can get to work on time and I have the world's latest start time. I think I just live in the wrong time zone :) I try to run at lunch a few times a week otherwise it is in the evening which doesn't bother me.

  19. I am a morning runner for 9 months of the year, but then the winter comes and I hibernate (or, perhaps, I have seasonal affective disorder. Kidding.) Running in the cold plus darkness just doesn't work for me.
    That said, in the other nine months of the year, I am very similar to you. No food, "topping of the tank" before bedtime, about 10 minutes from alarm to running. But, I ALWAYS have coffee! I used to have a Keurig (but sold it because I could justify the waste from each little cup), but now I have a coffee pot with a timer. I put a couple of ice cubes in my cup to cool the coffee down, then I guzzle it and hit the road.

  20. Before I had my son, I would prefer to run first thing in the morning. But, I have to eat breakfast first. I would make two eggs cooked over medium in cooking spray with a slice of toast. For caffeine it's diet coke or coffee. Surprisingly this routine only takes 15minutes tops. I would get dressed while my eggs are cooking. I never had any GI distress because it's not a huge meal. I would either run heading out the front door or I would drive 10 minutes away to meet a friend. I really liked running with her because we would start out slow but, then we would ease into a tempo run and 10 miles always flew by when I ran with her. After my run my beauty routine is pretty similar to yours; 5 minute shower, get dressed and then put my makeup on quickly at my desk at work.
    After I had my son my schedule has totally changed. During the week I usually run at night on the treadmill after my son has gone to sleep for the night and on the weekends I might be able to head out the door by myself or with the stroller. I think for the next year or two things will be hectic but, once the kids get older and start sleeping in later I will get back to my early morning routine.

  21. I am a die hard morning runner as well. As the hours go by in the day and with a full time job I just lose motivation to knock out a serious workout in the evening time. I will cross train at night if I must (I teach a spin class Weds evenings) but usually gotta do all runs in the mornings. Thanks for sharing your routine with us! Oh and when it comes to looking cute or fancy for work...that just doesn't happen anymore. lol

  22. I'm the same as you - eat dinner late, roll out of bed and out the door (or onto the treadmill in the basement) in 15 minutes. It would be 5 min if I didn't have to take my dog out first. Half asleep for the first mile but I've never regretted getting up and doing it. I've done up to 20 miles on a weekday morning in the late summer/early fall (I work from home a few days a week, so that makes it easier to not have to 'get ready' after the run). But in the winter, getting up when it is dark and freezing is really hard, even just to get on the treadmill. So then I need to finish up the rest of the miles I want to do later in the day, usually at lunch. I can usually only do evening runs if I go with my running club friends during the warmer months.

  23. You just kicked that half's butt. WTG.

    1. Fuck. It was a new PR, wasn't it? Shit, woman. I take full credit because I'm sure it was the cookie dough ;-) Congrats!

  24. Crap! Tooth pain is the worst! I really really hope it gets better and you can still run the marathon! Because I'm selfish and really want to get to come cheer you on. Oh and also because I don't want you to be in pain anymore.


we have a strict no-word-verification policy. Comment away!