Confessions Of A Morning Person

AJW's TaproomEver since I was a little kid I’ve been a morning person. Even in high school and college when the rest of the world seemed to while away the daylight hours sleeping I didn’t. I think I am just programmed to get up and get going.

Of course, as such, I am decidedly not a night owl. In contrast to just about everyone else in my family, on a typical evening in our house I am ready and willing to head for the pillow and covers by 9 p.m. Again, this just seems to be the way I am made.

Obviously, this lifelong tendency toward mornings has a direct impact on my running as my best and often most enjoyable runs are those that take place when the rest of the world is still in slumber.

On a typical day like today, I wake at 5 a.m., most often without the aid of an alarm. I pad downstairs to the kitchen and fire up the coffee, taking a moment to revel in being the only one moving in the quiet of my still-sleeping house. While sipping, I peruse the internet somewhat mindlessly and get my body ready to head outside. By 5:45 I am off the front stoop and on the run.

In the pre-dawn dark all is quiet. As I chase the beam of my headlamp each footfall seems amplified in the crisp morning air and each breath gets progressively easier. On this particular morning, a couple miles in, I begin to encounter a few other morning warriors, some walking with dogs, others running in small, quiet groups. All, I imagine, savoring the same morning stillness I am.

Sometime around the five-mile mark (this morning’s plan was to run seven), I gradually begin to lose touch with what’s around me and focus in closely on what’s within. In these precious morning runs that are mine and mine alone I find the solace to explore my inner life more wholly and organically than in other places in my life. Sometimes spiritual and other times emotional, these fleeting moments are almost always when my head and heart are most clear.

Returning home an hour or so later I am refreshed and relaxed. During these late-autumn days before the clocks mercifully change, of course, it’s still dark when I finish. But I don’t let that deter me. Over the years I have found that the 10-minute window immediately after a brisk morning run can be pure gold. And that purity is priceless. Eventually, the glow wears off and I burst back into the house where things have begun to stir and the rest of life awaits in a seemingly better place than it was when I left.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

The Answer Brewpub logoThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from The Answer Brewpub in Richmond, Virginia. Known for their tremendous variety of creatively conceived beers, one of their finest selections is Larceny, their classic single-hopped American IPA. Balanced and fruity, Larceny is a nice IPA to have on its own or with spicy food. Give this one a try if you are ever in this booming beer town.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Are you a morning person? If so, is this when you predominantly do your running? Or, do you reserve your morning hours for another aspect of your life? What value do you find in your morning hours?
  • If you are not a morning person, do you get up early anyway? Do you still manage to find meaning in the mornings even if your brain and body aren’t quite ready for the day yet?

There are 16 comments

  1. DF

    Sounds just like my mornings, AJW. Being a baker at heart and by trade, I’m an early morning guy and getting out for runs around 5am, especially this time of year, means headlamp all the way. Having finished a nice workout before most people have even gotten up, is a solid way to start your day.

  2. John

    Being a morning person myself I can totally relate. Now my wife – that’s a different story. She would rather burn the midnight oil and sleep in most mornings. My weekday runs are one thing – I have to get them in early before I head to work, but the real advantage is on my weekend long runs. It’s so nice to knock out a 3-4 hour run without interrupting any family time. Everyone is in a better mood thanks to my running and them sleeping in. Then we all get to eat breakfast together and “start” the day. Cheers!

    1. Henning Karlsson

      I agree, with both weekdays and weekendd. But I so struggle to get out of bed. Because I am an evening person. I’d rather not go to bed before 23.00.

  3. Robert

    I’m a morning person, but running first thing just doesn’t come easy. I can get out ride first thing, but running it takes my body a ways before it starts feeling ok. For me running in the afternoon/evening is just easier better all the way around. Although w/ the time change this weekend means running in the dark now – which will take a while to get used too.

  4. Fabrizio

    Great article AJW! My schedule only allows me to run between 4 and 7am during weekdays. And I love it! I have never been a morning person, so getting out of bed is sometimes hard. Very hard. But that feeling at the end of the run is an immensely powerful reward.
    I like to prepare my gear before going to bed, making sure the headlamp is charged. That way all I have to do in the morning is to turn on the coffee maker, eat a spoonful of honey and head out.
    What I especially enjoy is to have the trails all for myself, the quiet darkness. I feel my senses are heightened: must be a mix of fear and excitement. Time has come to a stop and I am the only one alive…

  5. Jackie

    I am a morning person but my current routine is a little extreme due to work, childcare, etc. I wake up at 4:45am and am out the door by 5:15am. I return an hour later and lately the headlamp has been turned on the entire time. If I didn’t have to work or drive my son to school I would sleep in for sure. But this is what works for me and my family right now. My husband is a rower so he wakes up even earlier than me so there is actually someone crazier than me in our family!! I always run with my dog. I love seeing the animals that have adapted to our urban neighborhood that you don’t get to see during the day. I see rabbits, coyotes and I saw a fox several months ago.

  6. Bobby O

    Solid move on preparing for tomorrow the night before. I read an article about how that’s Obama’s philosophy on preparation as well.

    1. Bobby O

      Not hijacking. Thought I’d give my source.

      “Get a head start on your day the night before.

      “In a funny way,” writes Michael Lewis, “the president’s day actually starts the night before. When he awakens at seven, he already has a jump on things.”

      After his family retires to bed, Obama often stays up working on odds and ends left over from the day. Chief among his nightly responsibilities is leafing through the binder of documents that his staff has asked him to review.

      For example, after he won the Nobel Peace Prize, his staff submitted several acceptance speeches that Obama deemed unusable. Instead of cramming the speechwriting process into tiny windows throughout the next day, the president utilized his night to get a head start. First, he copied the staff-written speech by hand to “organize his thoughts” and then he used the exercise to write his own speech, an approach would have been impossible during his traditional day.

      I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions to make.”

      [Broken link to 99u article “How Barack Obama Gets Things Done” removed]

  7. Reynald B.

    Really serene article. I can feel the sensations reading it.
    With age (47) and professionnal activities (…stress) i become a morning person.
    I’d like to be a morning runner. I forecast to wake-up at 6 and to run about 30 minutes just “to explore my inner life” as you say. twice a week to begin.
    The rarely occasions i did it was fabulous moments, seeing roe deers in my suburb.
    Thanks because you write it as an invitation…

  8. Len Harvey

    Dear AJW, I loved this. I am definitely a morning person. As someone nearing 60 who has come back to running my favourite run is to set off up a big hill behind my house at about 5.45am. It makes me feel wonderful and sets me up for the day. I live in the UK and really enjoy your articles on irunfar. My son is currently working in New York and we hope to visit him next year. Can you recommend a New York beer for us to try?

    1. AJW

      Len, thanks for the comment and the kind words. In NY you must make the trip over to Brooklyn to visit Grimm Artisanal Ales. They have 3-4 excellent choices as well as a great rotation of seasonal beers. Keep enjoying those morning runs!

  9. Teun

    Love these filosofical columns of yours AJW! Although not a morning person,the morning is still my favorite time of day for running. Especially the the hour around sunrise. It charges me with stillness, the peace to cope with the bustle of the day.

  10. Jared

    I am a morning person. I always have been. I can remember lying awake as a child, waiting for the time to get up for school. I was always the first one up on christmas morning, lying awake, waiting for any one of my six other brothers and sisters to wake up and head downstairs. Today, I wake up at 5 am, let the dog out, drink a glass of water (I never was a coffee drinker. I can enjoy a cup, but I don’t need any coffee to get me going). I am out the door and running by 5:15. This run, by far, is the most self-centered portion of my day. I never wear headphones. I love the sound of my feet hitting the road or the snow or splashing through puddles, getting lost in my thoughts. Back in an hour and the rest of my day begins, packing lunches, making breakfast, going to work. Sometimes I get to run again after work, but its not the same. Too much commotion and too many people. In the morning there is nobody and nothing.

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