Early in the morning I crawl out of bed and sneak a peek through the window. Winter is nigh, the sky is still dark and everything is — wet. It’s been raining for weeks, as if the clouds have conspired to make my mornings as miserable as possible. My instincts pull my body back to bed. It takes all I have to fight the urge and stay on my feet. Going out for a run is another battle altogether, the one I will start fighting as soon as the coffee is brewed. The back-to-bed part of me remembers cold wind, frozen fingers, the squishy sound of sneakers on wet pavement and cold toes. I try—and fail—to conjure happy images of running in the cold rain. There’s only hot chocolate and a hot shower at the end that make the whole idea bearable.
I reach for science to help me fight my lazy self and find out that the lack of sun is considered the topmost factor that makes us listless. Exposure to sunshine pumps up vitamin D production in the skin. According to an article in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics, an estimated one billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency. We have vitamin D receptors in our muscles and in almost every organ of our body, including heart and brain. If we’re low on vitamin D, we’re low on energy. While it’s impossible to conjure the sun on demand, the remedy seems to be vitamin D supplements in dosage to be determined by our physician.
There are other, much scarier possible explanations for a lack of energy: depression, hidden heart condition or an autoimmune disease. So, if you’re still in a funk after you’ve taken your vitamin D pills, it’s a time to have a chat with your family physician.
Personally, I’m just simply not a morning person. And, since I really like to do my runs as early as possible, I looked up the ways to become a morning runner.The most logical start is to go to bed early. Count seven or eight hours back from the time you want to do your workout, add another 30 minutes needed to fall asleep and 30 minutes you need to get ready, and that’s the time you should be horizontal. To help speed up the process in the morning, lay out your running clothing before going to sleep.
To help you wake up when the alarm clock goes off, make sure you have a bright light next to your bed and turn it on immediately. Light will help chase away the remnants of the dream that threatens to pull you back to sleep.
If you have a running buddy, make arrangements to call each other at the wake-up time. A workout partner is always a good motivator to get going early. If you are a soloist (like myself), social media can help. When you announce your workout on your Facebook profile, your friends will check on you.
Some other ideas that will help you conquer the winter morning running blues: have a light snack, put on some uplifting music and, for especially dark days, plan your favorite workout. When I spend all my strength just to get out the door, I usually go for a nice, easy 40-60 minute run, which always puts me in a great mood.
One final trick: don’t think, just go. If I give myself time to think, I’ll quickly come up with dozens of reasons to delay my run. After all, the weather always seem to look better tomorrow. Instead, I make myself swallow my coffee, quickly lace up the shoes and, before the brain can register what’s going on, I’m out the door, making that squishy sound on the wet pavement, and looking for the puddles.