The Planet Wave: When Do You Run?
by Bob "Wish" Wischnia on September 30, 2012
I tend to have a very myopic view of the world. At least my little corner of it. And in my world, I divide people up into two categories: Morning and evening runners. You’re either one or the other.
One isn’t necessarily better than the other; we’re just different species of the same running animal. But when we run, tends to shape our running persona. It doesn’t change how we run or what we can accomplish, but there are subtle distinctions between the two subspecies.
Me? I’m a morning runner. Always have been, always will be. I grew up as a swimmer and even as a kid, early-morning workouts became as habitual as brushing my teeth. I got up; I swam. It was pitch black when I arrived at the pool and the water was always cold, but by the time the workout was finished, my muscles were so oxygenated that, after inhaling a huge breakfast, staying awake in school was a breeze. Just when the other kids were fading, I was still pumped.
When I transitioned from staring at a black line in the pool to running, I was already hard-wired to run first thing in the morning before anyone else was stirring. It just seemed so natural and quickly discovered this was my favorite time of the day. The air smelled and tasted so much fresher, cleaner and cooler and the only traffic I had to worry about were the paperboys on their morning rounds.
My early morning runs became as ingrained in me as breathing. And even at an early age there was simply no better way to start a day. That feeling lasted until college, skipped a few years and resumed soon after my children were born. I had a choice: Either run before they got up or forget about it.
I rarely forgot about it. By necessity, I had to run even earlier and soon found the earlier, the better. No alarm clock was necessary; my body’s rhythms told me when.
These days I have been known to get up as early as 4 a.m. to get a short run in before a long plane flight. Not to keep a streak going, but to keep my sanity going. Occasionally, I will miss a morning run and if I do, my entire equilibrium is thrown out of whack. Even if I get a chance to run later in the day, it never feels quite right and I struggle with even a few miles.
I make no bones about it: I’m a morning person. Starting before dawn affords me the glorious sight of the first streaking of the morning sky. Usually just when I finish, the sun is just starting to rise. It’s easily the most beautiful time of the day and I bask in it.
Obviously, not every runner is as nuts about morning runs as I am. For some, a morning run is an impossibility, due either to logistics, responsibilities or body rhythms. Others, consider a post work/school run a necessity and undoubtedly are just as passionate about that time of day as I am about the predawn. For them, the sunset is as special as the sunrise is for me.
Then, there are those who can’t even think about a run until even later. A long-time friend of mine—we’ll call him The Ghost--was a world-class runner in the ‘80s. Only problem was he couldn’t get moving until late, late afternoon, just when everyone else was finishing. He’d mope his way around for an hour and then, after Letterman, The Ghost would do his second, serious workout all by his lonesome.
Once we were at an international road race together in Indonesia and first place was worth $75,000. Only problem was the race started exceptionally early at 6 a.m. to avoid the heat. Not good for The Ghost who ordinarily would be halfway through his third dream at that time of morning.
But with so much money on the line, The Ghost came up with a stunning solution: He would stay up all night--and then race.
I’ll be darned if it didn’t work as he took home the big paycheck and then picked up the tab at the poolside party before going to bed about noon. (BTW: The Ghost held the 10,000 road record for many years so he somehow made his bizarre training regimen/lifestyle work for him.)
Most of us aren’t quite as wacky as he was in our devotion to running, but to the rest of the world we probably are. I certainly am.
When it comes right down to it, whether you are a morning or evening runner (or that subspecies, known as lunchtime runners), doesn’t really matter. What truly matters is the simple act of movement, not the time of day.
Which type of runner are you: Morning or evening?