Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wakey Wakey

I wouldn't say that I am not a morning person, but I do not enjoy waking up early. 

Earlier in my career I took a 6:00 AM CST flight to Washington Dulles every Monday morning for nine months.  During this time, if you looked in the dictionary under the word "crotchety" you would see my picture.

crotchety ['krɒtʃɪtɪ]
1. Informal. cross; irritable; contrary
2. full of crotchets


To this day I am still scarred by those weekly 6:00 AM flights.

These days, on weekdays, I have my morning routine down to a science.  My objective is to sleep as late as possible while still getting to the office at a reasonable hour (I call it "efficiency").  Usually this means getting a lot of things set the night before, unenthusiastically dragging my keister out of bed at 7:45 AM plus or minus up to 15 minutes (okay, just plus), and then doing a lot of things upon arrival in the office while my computer is booting up. 

One would think that 7:45 AM is a pretty late wakeup time.  Alas, I have still never been deterred from frantically wailing aloud when it's time to get up.  Ever.

You may think I am joking about the
early-morning wailing.  Sadly, I am not.
On weekends, usually on Sundays, I get up semi-early (usually around 8 or 8:30 AM) to go for my weekly long run.  Between the run itself, cooling down, stretching, and then doing all my physical therapy afterwards, it can become quite the timeconsuming endeavor.  For that reason only, I go first thing to get it out of the way so that I can enjoy the rest of my day without getting pulled into other directions.  Motivation does get tough, though, especially in the wintertime when icicles will start forming on my eyelashes, my eyes freeze in their eyesockets, and my nose crystallizes into a semi-vegetative state resembling a turnip.  (I always forget to bring Kleenex along with me for the run.) 

A turnip.  Frosty the Snowman's button nose has nothing on me.
By the standards of many, though, I realize that 8:30 AM is actually fairly late in the morning for a long run.  I know plenty of folks that go at 6 AM or even earlier.  This can be pretty incomprehensible to me but I appreciate that folks operate on different schedules.

On that note, I enjoy running races.  However, I do cringe at some of the early race start times that require me to set the alarm for some ungodly hour on a weekend morning.  (Many thanks to Adam for willingly waking up with me at those ungodly hours on race mornings to be my personal taxi driver.)  For example, I would love love LOVE to run the Disney Marathon someday, but the 5:30 AM EST start is a pretty strong deterrent (note that I reside on Central Standard Time, making this start time even more acutely painful).  It's probably no surprise that when I go shopping for races to run, races with late-afternoon or evening starts, or even mid-morning starts, are a huge selling point.

Why are so many races and runs usually done so insanely early in the morning?  I'd love to start a movement to push things back a few hours.  I even read that early-morning runners may be more prone to injury since our muscles tend to be stiffer early in the morning.  Yes, scientific evidence to back things up, literally and figuratively!  (Never mind that there are pros and cons to running at any time of day or night, such as temperature, daylight, meal schedules, work schedules, etc.)

Here is where it gets tricky for me.  I have been considering training for the marathon with CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) versus training alone using an online plan.  For fall marathons, CARA has an 18-week program which meets every Saturday morning at 6 AM to do a group long run.  However, I am not sure if I can stomach having to wake up at 5 AM every Saturday morning for 18 weeks.  Obviously early-morning training runs are much more palatable in the summertime, but even so.  6 AM runs?!?  For 18 weeks straight!?!?  This year!?!?

When I was in college, we often missed breakfast in the dining hall because it often came down to a question of whether to priorize sleep over food.  Sleep usually won.  Then on the atypical days when food won, there was ample evidence of how much sleep was a landslide priority for most given the gaping number of empty seats.

So what is one to do when it comes to training for a lifelong goal?  Do I really need to maintain that level of unabashed commitment by training with a group to ensure myself proper support and resources?  Or does it require even more commitment to go it alone with no one to stay accountable to besides myself?  Better yet, does accountability to others fall short of accountability to myself, regardless of how I choose to train?

The debate rages on.  To be continued.

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