I am not a morning person by nature. I love the luxury of lounging in the bed sheets and sipping hot, sweet coffee while listening to new tunes. However, I find I am strongest as a runner in the morning. Most races are in the early morning, in fact one of my favorite races, KVYMCA’s Rise ‘N Shine 5K Road Race is coming up at the end of this month. It starts officially at sunrise. The race is always on a Friday, so most folks go to work right afterwards. It is a terrific local run and most of the runners in the area look forward to it with great anticipation. I never have a problem getting up early for a race.
I usually have a problem getting up early for training. I set my alarm for 6am but don’t hit the road until 7am or sometimes 8am. Most of the time, I have been training for races that are 3-4 months down the road. That’s a whole lot of early morning boring miles. I do mix up my runs – hills, tempo, road, trail. At some point though, things get a little monotonous. Enter my Sunrise Fun Run. I try and plan these every two to three weeks. I enjoy finding a new place to run and the planning involved to fit it into my day. I think that the short term anticipation gives me a little pep in my step and helps me build towards my longer term goal.
Here are the four steps I use to plan my Sunrise Fun Runs
1. Choose Somewhere Dramatic
We all like to be inspired. A local running hero, an underdog story, an internet workout meme can all be a spur when we are just moseying along. This sort of run should have a spectacular element. Living where I do in Maine, I have a wide array of scenic paths to choose from – crashing coastlines to rocky outcrops. Ask your friends where there’s a beautiful lakeside path or rolling river route. Even architecturally interesting small towns with their massive mills and glorious churches reaching for the sky can make you feel like a luxury sedan driving around the streets in the early morning.
2. Map It Out
Because I usually choose a new area, I want to make sure I know where I’m running. On race day you have volunteers to point you in the right direction. I like to use Google Maps and Street View to plan out my miles and see what major crossroads look like so I don’t mistakenly run an extra couple of miles. I also like to look for alternate paths so that depending on how good I’m running, I can choose to add an extra scenic route or take a short cut if injured or strained.
3. Be Ready to Run Before Bed
Just like a Race Day, I like to line up all my gear and equipment. Especially for these Fun Runs, I’m waking up an hour and a half to two hours before sunrise, I can’t trust my brain to remember every detail, so I lay out all my gear and write myself a checklist. Water and breakfast I can have on the drive, but it should all be set up and ready to go.
4. Race the Sunrise
With all the preparation, you might think about getting to your destination early. I like to cut it a little close. I plan to get to my destination right before the sun comes up. It keeps me focused on the drive and starts the adrenaline pumping even before I start my run. The early morning sun is great for picture taking and I enjoy some light stretching while I watch the glory of a breathtaking sunrise.
I hope you plan a running adventure soon. It doesn’t need to be a big vacation. These little runs can be right in you backyard and just the right size to energize your training schedule. Where do you like to go for your local adventure run? Let me knw in the comments section below.