Monday, August 17, 2009

Runner's Almanac - Day 2

It's a great ambition to be an early morning runner. I've done it a few times - Wake up at that delicate cusp between night and dawn, venture out into the morning chill and plop one foot in front of another. Hey, if you're still half asleep, how hard can it be? If you go out early enough, you may even require some sort of head lamp or light. This is my lofty ambition - To run early enough that I would need a head lamp. Out by 5:30am, back before 7:00am. Now that is hardcore.

I used to get out to run at 7:00am, but now that my work schedule has changed, my alarm goes off around 5:30am for a scheduled run. Alarms aren't fail safe, however. They can go off when they are told, but we humans can be stubborn.

I put on my alarm clock this morning so I could run before work. I had plans afterwards so I knew this was my only chance to do so. I've read that the only way to get out of bed when it is just more comforting NOT to do so (especially on a Monday morning) is to do it without thinking. Hear the alarm, jump up, put your clothes on, and get out. Well...better said than done.

Needless to say, I didn't make my early morning. But I knew I had to get some running in today, so I packed up a bag for a lunch time run. Now, one person's lunchtime run can be totally different from the next person's. Depending on your place of employment, this can be a relatively easy mid-day activity or completely the opposite. I think that an hour and a half is the perfect amount of time for a lunch time run - But unless you live in France where mid-day breaks range up to two hours, or if your schedule isn't monitored closely, your lunchtime activities usually need to wrap up in about 60 old fashioned minutes. It may seem like enough, but like any efficient machine, this too needs to be planned out efficiently.

First, decide - Will you run outdoors or at the nearby gym (if you have one). What do you actually do about lunch, since you are technically spending "lunch" running? How about afterwards - How do you magically revert back to your pre-running non-sweating work-attired self?

It was around noon, and I was having seconds thoughts about this. I had intentionally left my running clothes in my car, which is parked about a 10 minute walk away from my place of employment. My plan was to grab my bag and walk to the nearby gym, run on the treadmill for 20 minutes and head back. The only glitch was that I hadn't really thought about lunch. So, for any mid-day runners at work, Tip #1 - Please remember to pack a lunch and bring it with you. Preferably something handheld that is easy to eat conspicously while you finish your work. I ended up purchasing a tuna sandwich that was heavy on the tuna and mustard (FYI - Not recommended).

Since I had already purchased and ate the sandwich at the desk, I didn't want my hastily eaten lunch to be in vain. The purpose was to eat now so I could run later. So I promplty left work, walked to my car, grabbed my bag, and headed to the gym. Once I entered the airconditioned sanctuary and swiped my card into the ID detector, I felt deeply satisfied by my decision to do so. It was a welcome break in a busy day.

Now, for a short 20 minute run, I would recommend throwing in a fast 5K paced segment for about 10-12 minutes to challenge yourself in the short amount of time that you have. I did 10 minutes at close to my 5K pace (about a 10 minute mile) and mixed it with 11-12 minutes a mile. I ended up running just under 2 miles. It provided a spurt of energy that made going back to work more than bearable. Go to a sit down meal for lunch and end up with a food coma. Run during your lunch hour and it's like a jolt of caffeine, that hopefully leaves you with enough energy into the night.

So my conclusion about lunchtime runs? They are a good thing. Just plan ahead. What do I not recommend? Eating your sloppy tuna salad sandwich while running. Now that would be a road hazard.

Happy running!

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