I set my alarm Sunday morning for 6:30. Early for a weekend day, but on the Sundays that I’m not only going to church but also teaching Sunday school and need to be there early to prepare, that’s what time I need to get up if I want to fit in a four-mile run.
And I did want to fit in a four-mile run. At least I did when I got ready for bed on Saturday night. Four miles sounded just great. It would take me about 45 minutes, counting actual pack-up-and-get-out-the-door time (iPod connected, cell phone in waistpack, shoes tied, hat located, dog pacified since she doesn’t get to run with me on weekends), so as long as I was on the road by 7, it would work out well.
But I woke yesterday morning about 6:25 and listened to the rain on the roof and noticed how chilly the bedroom was and looked at the gray sky through the skylight and felt very different from how I felt on Saturday night. No longer did I want to go for a four-mile run at all. Nor a three-mile or two-mile run, or any run at all.
Just get up and go, I told myself. Just go ahead with the plan.
How about after church? the other voice in my head countered. When I’m awake, and there’s a little more daylight on the road.
The weather won’t be better after church, my conscience replied. Plus it’s an extra change of clothes if you go in the middle of the day. Get up and go.
But I’m drowsy and chilly and don’t want to go running.
Then just do a mile. Just get out there for a mile, and once you’ve done that, if you want to, you can do more, and if you don’t want to, you can stop.
This, as I so often say, is the number one reason to commit to a running streak. Being a streak-runner means never having to decide whether or not it’s a good day to go running.
No, there was no question I’d go running before the day ended, but does it have to be so early? the voice in my head went on. I’m up at 5:20 five days a week. Can’t I sleep late on weekends?
But of course, I knew from plenty of past experience how that would go. If I waited to go running, I’d needlessly waste stores of mental energy throughout the morning thinking about how my run still lay ahead. I’d get home from church and not feel like changing into my running clothes. It would be late afternoon and I’d still be dreading the thought of a run on a cold gray afternoon.
Or I could just roll out of bed and go, before I was fully conscious of what kind of day it was.
Just a mile, I reminded myself. If it’s not going well, you can stop.
But any runner knows how that goes, and why it’s such a good trick to use on yourself. As I used to tell Tim, after five minutes in the rain, you’re as wet as you’re going to get; might as well just keep going.
Besides, after five minutes of running, you remember why you run. Lying in a warm soft bed, it’s hard to re-create the feeling of breathing in fresh cool air, the rhythm of your feet against the roadway, the breeze, the smell of wet leaves. All you can remember while you’re lying in bed is why you don’t want to get up yet.
So I got up anyway, put on my running clothes, drank some water, headed out the door.
And as always, half a mile in, I wasn’t thinking about turning back. I was thinking about the next three and a half miles and how good it would feel to just keep running.
Roll out of bed. It’s a lesson I seem to learn over and over again. Rolling out of bed is often the hardest part of the run. And after that, it really truly is downhill all the way.