I could say that those of us who do long distance running events are all highly motivated individuals, who simply have it in our DNA to spring out of bed like the Easter Bunny in April with all his brightly adorned eggs in tow, for our 2-5 hour weekend early morning runs, but that my fellow harriers would be simply untrue.
The fact of the matter is that some of us hate waking up in the morning for our long runs. We need our cup of joe (or two) or our heads will explode. We jump in the car not fully dressed, eyes still crusty in the corners, with shoes and socks thrown haphazardly in the passenger seat and meet our running comrades at the local school parking lot because it’s too much work to be fully dressed at 4:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning. And we don’t start talking to our “morning running crew” until after mile-3.
Those of you who are so impressed by our grit and determination, I’m about to shed some harsh morning light on seven of the untold reasons why we really do these long weekend runs at the wee-hours of the first break of dawn…please, I beg of you, forgive us…
1. When the heck else do we have time!
We are married, have kids, church to get to, t-ball games to attend, dogs to walk, honey-do lists to complete, etc. If we don’t get these 12-20 miles in now, it’s just not going to happen.
2. It’s cooler in the morning.
Believe me, if it weren’t so darn hot the rest of the day, then at least those of us who were single would love to get this 4-hour excursion done at a later hour; but with the sun bearing down and not wanting to feel like our long run is a desert death march, we choose the lesser of the evils to do our long run in these early hours.
3. Peer Pressure.
Who knows who came first, the person who initially wanted to do the run at this god-forsaken hour or that a bunch of people thought that this was just what “runners do” to get in shape for a marathon. Either way, most of these long distance group runs are when the sun is inching above the horizon and so it’s either join this band of sleep-deprived lunatics or enjoy running solo and listen to the demons in your head try to talk you out of your 18-mile run the entire time you’re on the road.
4. Bragging Rights.
Don’t think for a minute that we runners are magnanimous – it’s all a farce. We want to be able to act nonchalantly with friends and family who don’t run and say comments like: Yeah, no biggie, just went for an 18-mile run this morning at 4:30 a.m. Took about 3 hours, but I feel great. When in reality the run nearly sucked the lifeblood out of us, we almost shat ourselves at mile-13 when we couldn’t find a restroom and then passed out for 2½ hours at the breakfast table in our bowl of granola when we got home.
See reason #1 to understand this. Our lives are not our own and so this sliver of 3-5 hours is all we have during the entire week that is ours. Work, responsibilities and family consume us. And while we love our kids and spouse – and may not even mind our job too much – there is no “me” time. So this bastardization of personal space is what we long for. Obviously, we are truly sick individuals.
6. We are insomniacs.
We can’t sleep anyway, so might as well make the most of it, right? Turning a negative situation into a positive by running for 3+ hours…on second thought, maybe the lack of sleep has made us a bit punchy and a tad light on having good judgement?
7. We are running masochists.
Let’s put our cards on the tables, some of my fellow running brethren, and just say it out loud once and for all – Hi, my name is [your first name] and I’m a running masochist! Doesn’t that feel better? I mean, honestly, who in their right mind wakes up willingly at the butt-crack of dawn, goes to the bathroom 3 times in 30-minutes to make sure our bowels are free and clear, fill a bunch of mini-water bottles for our “batman belt”, pin 4 to 5 GUs or Gels to the outside of our running shorts like used tea bags after being steeped in hot water, puts on running shoes, attach a blinking light around our head like a coal miner that could cause seizures if stared at too long and then decide to meet up with 3 to 10 other look-a-like-freaks for a “fun” 4-hour run…I’ll tell you who, nobody – unless you are insane, which of course we are.
So the truth is finally out. I feel the stench of deceit being washed off of me – for I have finally purged my conscience of the falsehoods being perpetrated to the running masses to this horror and abomination that is, and always has been, the long distance early morning run. I don’t do this boastfully, but humbly, in the hopes that my words have given you insight to the insanity that many out there in the world have when it comes to distance running and the so-called prideful and honored tradition of the pre-dawn distance run.