(*Part of an Ongoing Series of Indeterminate Length)
I started running again this month. Because August in Washington DC is just so refreshing and wonderful and I have such a natural affinity for running that doing it in weather that reminds one of warm pea soup is so incredibly pleasant and even, dare I say it, downright easy. (For those not fluent in sarcasm, none of those things are true. Except for the fact that the air here is like warm pea soup. That’s dead-on accurate.)
August in DC is so gross even members of Congress flee the city.
It’s not that I had really stopped running. It’s just that I was doing it so infrequently that I could not, in good conscience, legitimately claim it as a form of activity that I engaged in. I think I had dwindled down to about once or twice a week. Then once you threw vacations, and moving, and work and blogging, and Real Housewives into the mix, there were weeks this summer where I didn’t run at all.
Slowly, I began to run out of excuses (no more vacations planned, no more moving, caught up on all the Real Housewives franchises). Eventually, I noticed that the obese Petunia (I mean, let’s not beat around the food bowl here. She’s fat. I love her, but she’s no smedium-sized pet) was able to outrun me during our little play sessions, such as they are. Adding insult to injury, she’s about 70 years old in human years.
So, in the interest of not keeling over while chasing a cat up the stairs (or trying to lift her. Because, I don’t know if I mentioned this, but she’s fat), I’ve been trying to increase my running. Not surprisingly, it has not been going well, mostly due to scheduling.
I started in late July, getting up at 5:30 am to get dressed, stretched, set up the coffee maker, and get out the door by 6 am. I did that to avoid running during the hottest time of the day. As it was, it was usually around 75-78 degrees, which isn’t so bad compared to the heat in say, Texas. The humidity, however, usually hovered around 85%, so it was still a struggle. Even on the 2-ish weekday mornings I was able to get up and out the door, I dragged my way through 3 miles (This girl gets it). Shit was hot. Plus my body just is not awake at that point.
But, I kept at it, mostly because I liked the fact that I had gotten the whole exercise business out of the way and could come home after work and plop down immediately on the couch. And, I could brag about it. People seem really impressed (as well they should) if you casually (or, not so casually) mention that you’ve already worked out that morning. Both of those were incredibly strong incentives for keeping up the whole morning workout thing.
There is a downside to running in the morning: if it’s a crappy run (which in my case, it almost always was), you’ve started your day out crappy. You’ve already failed and the rest of the day will just resonate with your inability to propel your body forward for 30 minutes straight without stopping and wheezing and walking and holding your side.
Then August came. Since the sun also likes to propel forward (and is much better at it), it started staying much darker longer in the mornings. It was still dark out at 6 a.m. In fact, the sun wasn’t even coming up until around 6:20. Being a big scaredy-cat who’s afraid of getting snatched on the running trail, I figured that, even though it’s hotter in the evenings, I would have to make the switch.
(And in fact, I should be scared, according to this recent news report about a different trail nearby. Morning. Night. You’re liable to get jacked. We should really all just stay on our couches.)
There have been a couple of upsides to running in the evenings, not the least of which is 30 more minutes of sleep. While it is around 10 degrees hotter at 6:30 p.m., the humidity is in fact 20-30% less, which really does seem to make a difference.
Also, my body has—presumably—been up and moving around for about 12 hours, so I’m already warmed up and stretched, so to speak. I still stretch a bit before running, but it doesn’t feel quite as jarring as it does in the morning.
In the mixed bag category—the bike and run trail I use is much busier in the evenings, which is great for safety, but dangerous. The trail is quite crowded with other runners who can’t drag themselves out of bed either and those bicycle commuters will take you down without so much as a glance backwards.
It’s not awesome, and I still sound like an overheated Darth Vader sneaking up on you on the trail (Oh, who am I kidding? On a good day, I might pass some middle age walkers), but these are my choices: getting run over by a Lance Armstrong wanna-bes or potentially getting attacked by some really ambitious mugger who likes to get an early jump on the day.
At least if I get hit by a cyclist, there’s a good chance I’ll do damage to their bike.