Most people in my neighborhood equate a good fitness regimen with waking up bright and early. Peering out the window at 6 or 6:30 AM, it isn’t rare to see people dressed in singlets and shorts walking back home from the nearby track. Such early starts make sense, though: many of these people are in their thirties, forties, or older, and a good number of them likely have jobs and other responsibilities slated for the rest of the day.
Recently my dad has been trying to establish a healthier lifestyle for himself, and he’s been inviting me to join him on his walks. What ends up happening is that he walks out the door at 6 in the morning and I wake up just in time to welcome him back at around 7 or so. He often ribs me for this over breakfast, but that’s okay; I think having something to be smug about helps keep him on track. 🙂 I draw the line when he starts insinuating that my inability to work out in the early hours is a major flaw in my fitness routine, though. Just because I’m not sweating before the sun rises doesn’t mean my routine is any worse than anyone else’s.
An early-morning routine has never worked for me. Mostly this is because I don’t always sleep as early as that schedule requires; if I want to get enough sleep and still be up for a workout at 5 in the morning, I’ve got to be snoozing by 9 PM, and this almost never happens. Instead, I work out in the late morning, afternoon, or evening. On the days I’ve alloted for strength training, I do bodyweight exercises before I head out for lunch — and as for cardio, I run in the late afternoon or evening, before I buckle down on the work I need to do for the next day.
This makes for some great moments, like those times when I’ve got the glare of a coming sunset in my eyes and a cool breeze messing up my hair:
Because the regular crowd are usually done by morning, I often have the track to myself. The silence is one of my favorite parts of an afternoon run: there’s something soothing about hearing the steady rhythm of your own feet on the track and feeling as though you’re moving through a world that’s content to stay still and let you pass.
A lot of people have compared running to meditation, or found strong connections between the two. When I’m out running at five in the afternoon, chasing after the deepening orange glow on the horizon, that’s when these ideas click for me. Running can be an energizing way to kick off the day, and sometimes it does that for me when my schedule permits. But a run can also be a comforting, calming thing — a balm for a bad day, or a gentle close to a good one. I’m thankful to have experienced that side of running so early in the program, and I’m looking forward to the days ahead.