A few mornings a week always start the same way for me: with my alarm going off crazy early and me questioning my own sanity at deciding to do an early morning run. I have a lot of people ask how I get myself out of bed in the morning for early runs. “Oh, you must be a morning person,” they’ll say. “It’s probably easy for you.”
But no. I don’t think it’s ever easy to get up at 5 or 6 a.m., at least not for me.
For at least a few minutes after my alarm goes off, I lie there in bed, thinking about canceling the run. “Just think how nice it would feel to roll over and go back to bed,” my mind tells me. “It’s so cozy and warm in here. You don’t really want to get up and go running right now, do you? Most people are still asleep. Why don’t you just take the easy way out, too?”
This is where having a morning run buddy, at least for me, is key. It’s pretty easy to bail on yourself for a morning run – you’re not disappointing anyone but yourself, and while I know I’ll be bummed later that I didn’t get up and go, it can be hard to remember that when you’re warm and cozy and it’s pitch black outside. But when you have someone to meet, there’s a lot less wiggle room. I know I don’t want to disappoint my friend – I said I’d be there, and I will be.
So I drag myself out of bed, have some water and a quick snack, throw on my running gear, and I’m out the door.
I’m often still questioning my sanity when I get outside. It’s probably still a little bit dark, and the streets are quiet. It’s still well before a lot of people are getting up and ready to head to work.
But my running buddy is right on time, and after a couple minutes of stretching out and rubbing our bleary eyes, we’re off.
And then, a mere few minutes into the run, I remember why I do this to myself: because, once I’m over the worst part, simply getting out of bed and out the door, I love it.
Because there’s no better way to start your day than with a run and a friend by your side.
Because I love seeing the city in its sleepy, pre-dawn state.
Because I love getting a view of the sunrise that most people will miss.
Because I love seeing the other runners out that early and smiling knowingly to each other, feeling like we’re part of a special club, with each of us understanding why the other is up and out and exploring the streets at such an early hour.
Because I love that we get the normally tourist-packed D.C. monuments and reflecting pool to ourselves, even just for a little while.
Because I know that no matter how the rest of my day goes, no matter how busy or stressed or overwhelmed I get, at least I had this time to myself, just for me, with nothing to do but chat with a good friend and move my legs.
Anne Mauney is a Washington D.C.-area Registered Dietitian and the writer behind the food and fitness blog fANNEtastic food, which she started 5 years ago as a way to motivate others to lead happier, healthier lives through nutrition and exercise. She aims to show readers that it doesn’t have to be hard or complicated to be healthy – and in fact, it can even be fun! Anne is an avid runner and has completed several full marathons and more than 10 half marathons. Check out her blog for easy healthy recipes, quick meal ideas and packable lunches, daily fitness and running adventures, health tips and more. You can also find her on Twitter @fANNEtasticfood, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.