Monday, 1 June 2015

Half Marathon Training Plan Starts At 5 AM

The first day of the training plan for my next half marathon started enthusiastically at 5 AM this morning. Yes, five in the morning.

It was my first experience of running at this time of day, and I think I've learned a few things already about early morning runs....

Running During Early Morning Can Be Beautiful.


There was only the faint noise of the motorway a few miles away to accompany the sounds of nature waking up. No cars passed me, I met no people and everything seemed still. It was like I was the only person awake in the world. Apart from the hundreds of cars a few miles away..

Early Morning Run
Early morning runs can look like this...

However, even though it's now officially Summer here in Northern Ireland, it's still not warm at 5 am. I wore my gloves and hat, and I probably should have worn a jacket too. I'm still wearing my Asics compression tights, which really seem to do the trick on mornings like this.

Early Morning Run
Nice surface to be running on...

I met lots of bunny rabbits, which were scurrying nervously all around the trail path. For some reason, I never managed to get a good photo of any of them. I'll try and get a few photos during my next early run.

Early Morning Run
I didn't go for a swim. And not just because of that sign. 

Early Morning Runs Will Need To Be Easy Runs


I'll need to keep the runs easy at this time of morning for a couple of reasons. The first being that after just waking up, my muscles aren't warmed up at all. They take a while to wake up, and my calf muscles in particular were feeling really tight. The compression tights help a bit, but I just do not want to get another injury this year. Better safe than sorry.

Run Keeper


I tried to speed up a few times during the run, but my legs were having none of it. I tried to run with high knees and heel kicks for a bit, but again my legs just weren't ready at that time of morning. I'll have to respect that. I am no spring chicken anymore, so if my muscles don't want to go faster, I can't push them.

I'd rather leave my tempo, race pace and long runs until later in the day, when I'm feeling awake, warmed up and ready to complete them without injuring myself again. Last year was a disaster, with me missing the Great North Run altogether because of a calf injury.


Run Keeper
My RunKeeper stats for this morning.. Not too far, not too fast. Just early.

I also have to think about the amount of time I have available. I normally get up for work at 6 am, so I don't have the time to run much farther or longer than this. Which brings me nicely onto my next point...

A 5am Run.. Needs To Be A 5am Run


My alarm was set for 5 am. After a bit of stretching in bed, hitting snooze on the alarm clock and trying to think of excuses to go back to sleep, I eventually got out the door at 5.30 am. It's still quite impressive in my opinion, but it left me very short of time to get ready for work afterwards.

Although I got a protein shake when I finished the run, I didn't get any other breakfast and my post-run stretching was non existent. I need to get up earlier, as I can't neglect either of these if I'm going to survive a fifteen week training plan.

Drinking Alcohol The Night Before An Early Run Is Not An Option


For a run this early you need to be feeling fresh. Thankfully last night I'd gone to bed early, drinking nothing but water. Running at this time of morning, while dehydrated from drinking alcohol would not be a good idea for me, or my already unhappy muscles. I've cut back massively on alcohol anyway, after my Massive Reduction In Calories post.

Preparation For An Early Run Is A Must


I thought I'd done enough to be well prepared, but I can make a few improvements. I'd left my running gear on the dresser, but hadn't left my gloves or underwear out. From now on, I want to be able to get dressed and ready for running, on the way back from turning off the alarm clock.

I also hadn't made my lunch for the day the night before, so I had to do this with only a few minutes to spare before leaving for work. It wasn't too bad today, but I don't want to be going to work without bringing my lunch. When that happens, I normally make poor nutritional choices later in the day.

Chicken And Mediterranean Vegetables
Chicken And Mediterranean Vegetables

Tonight I've eaten well, and my first day of my training plan for the Great North Run has gotten off to a decent start. I'll not be getting up early tomorrow, but I will be packing my running gear tonight, hopefully for some running drills after work.

All that's left for me to do tonight is spend ten minutes using the foam roller, to help my leg muscles recover. Oh, and change the time on my alarm clock....

Half Marathon James


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