Five Reasons I Love Morning Runs

Happy Friday! It's time for the Friday Five linkup hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run, and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What.

The days are getting shorter. I started noticing a few weeks ago because there would be a faint light in the sky when I started my runs at 5:15 a.m. Now it's completely dark, and the sun only starts to come up at the end of my runs. When winter comes, I will switch to evening runs because winter morning runs are usually too cold--at least, they were last winter. I'm a morning person in general and have always exercised first thing in the mornings, so it will be a struggle to switch to after-work runs. For now, I'm enjoying every one of my morning runs. Here are five reasons why I love them so much.

1. I have the trail to myself. The trail I usually run on is very popular, especially on weekends and evenings. Even later in the mornings, it gets a lot of traffic from runners, dog walkers, and bikers commuting to work. But when I run, usually between 5:15 and 6:15, only one or two others are out. I love the sense of having the whole trail to myself.
Photo my husband took of the Northside river trail I usually run on (the runner isn't me).

2. I can hear and see the city waking up. I don't run with headphones, partly for safety (I'm running by myself in the city in the dark and need to be aware of my surroundings) and partly so I can focus on my breathing and be present with the world around me. I love the quiet of the early mornings broken by insects chirping, birds singing, the geese waking up and quacking at each other, the workers in PNC Park cleaning up from the previous night's game, and even the first sounds of traffic starting .The trail I run on is across the river from Pittsburgh's Downtown and goes by PNC Park and Heinz Field. I love seeing the pretty lights of Downtown on the first part of the run, and the sky start to lighten and sometimes turn pink with the sunrise on the second part of the run.

3. I don't have to worry about sunglasses or sunscreen. I'm a bit of a vampire in that the sun hurts me. It can hurt my eyes and make my insides feel like they're boiling. Because I tend to stay out of the sun, I've managed to make it to 40 without getting wrinkles...and I hope to stay that way for a while! When I have to run in the sun I have to wear sunglasses, which can be uncomfortable on long runs, and I always slather myself in sunscreen. No sun, no bother!

4. It's much cooler. All of June was hot and humid, even in the early mornings, but with July came cool mornings that have stayed, even when the days get hot. I heat up quickly when I run, and there's nothing so blissful as feeling the cool breeze on my arms and shoulders during a tough speed workout.

I should say at this point that these apply only to weekday runs. On weekends, I sleep in a bit and then take my dog for a walk before instead of after my run, so that I'm getting a later start and these first four don't apply as much. But even on weekends...

5. I look forward to waking up. Every night I check the weather for the next morning and lay out one or two different run outfits based on the weather and what type of run I'm doing (I always dress in cooler gear if I'm doing speed workouts). I spend a few minutes each night before I fall asleep doing positive mental training to think about the type of run I'll be doing the next morning and how successful I'll be at it. If it's an easy run, I look forward to just relaxing and enjoying the run. If it's a speed workout, I look forward to working on hitting my paces (I am still not getting it!). If it's a long run, I look forward to settling in to a relaxing run, to practicing my fueling, and to feeling the sense of accomplishment I always feel after long runs. And my favorite run is a new one--a pace run, where I practice my goal race pace. I am already looking forward to getting up tomorrow and doing my pace run!

Do you run in the mornings? What do you love about the time when you run?

I look forward to reading what everyone else wrote for their Friday Five! Check out the linkup!

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