While pre-race rituals are often what we read about, perhaps the mornings of the months and weeks that lead to a race should also be taken a look at and dissected, especially since this is how the foundations of a runner are built. Here's a step-by-step guide to preparing yourself for a morning run, PWW style.
- Check the distance. The evening before, find out how long and what pace you need to run according to your program (if you have one). I do this to see whether I should wake up earlier than usual, or if I could set my alarm to go off at a later time. This is also the time when you log on to Daily Mile or Twitter and tell everyone "I'm running 15K tomorrow morning! Yay!" If you put it out there then fail to do it, a few people will either un-friend or unfollow you. Or both.
- Eat and hydrate. I usually eat a healthy vegetarian meal for dinner and I find this is one of those small things that put a spring to my step in the mornings, even if it was a big meal. Anything else makes me feel lethargic.
- Set an alarm. As far as alarms are concerned, I set at least two for races, but only rely on one during regular runs. Thus, I try to place the alarm out of my reach so I actually need to get up to turn it off. Hitting snooze one too many times has always been my weakness.
- Get the gear. Have your running gear and apparel laid out before hitting the sack. Believe me, it'll be easier to transition into running mode when you no longer need to rummage through your cabinet half-asleep. Some people wear their running clothes to sleep but for me, cotton trumps polyester come bedtime.
- Sleep early. This is easier said than done because of downloaded episodes of Glee. But rest, especially after a long day, is paramount. Trouble sleeping? Try drinking plenty of water throughout the day. It helps.
When the alarm goes off, I usually try to sneak in five extra minutes of sleep before getting ready. I put my running gear on, slip a bill or two in my pocket, drink water, then head out. More often than not, I leave without eating anything unless what I've got scheduled is a long run. I warm up with a brisk walk or an easy jog, then stretch (if I remember to).
Only at that point--after all those steps to prepare have been met--do I subject myself to pain and suffering.
What about you? How do you prepare yourself for your regular runs?
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