I’ve been getting lots of emails about my morning running routine – as well as safety questions about running that early so I thought I would do a FAQ question post! I’m behind on responding to reader emails – so if you have emailed me – please be patient – summer is VERY hectic and my three little people take priority over all else!

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What time does your alarm go off in the morning? 4:10 am and I try to not hit snooze at all, but if I do then I do it no more than once.

What time do you go to bed? Typically around 9 but occasionally around 10, but never any later than 10. I aim for 8 hours of sleep a night if at all possible. If I stay up one night till 10 then the next night I will head to bed early. Last night I was exhausted and went to bed around 8:30 – not because I wanted to but because my body felt ready for bed at 7:30.

How did you switch to waking up that early? Many people tell me that they can’t fall asleep at night and thus can’t wake up early. I think they are doing it backwards. You force yourself to get up early – drag yourself out of bed – by the 2nd week or so of doing this you literally will not be able to keep your eyes open at night. When we first moved to this house a year ago I was sleeping 11 hours a night and not feeling rested. YES 11 hours. I kept telling my husband and friends that something was wrong with me because I was so tired all the time but was sleeping more than ever. I wasn’t getting a restful sleep and I was sleeping too much.

Now I can’t stay up past 10 if I wanted to – I literally find myself falling asleep sitting up. I also have restful sleep. When my alarm goes off it usually is the first time I’ve woken up all night. No more tossing and turning and looking at what time it is and wishing I was sleeping. When I am in bed – I am DEAD asleep.

Instead of trying to start with changing up what time you go to sleep, change what time you wake up. Your body will soon realize that it better go to sleep earlier if it’s going to survive getting up t 4 something in the morning.

What time do you leave your house? I don’t tell anyone this for safety reasons. I do however try to mix up when I leave – remember you don’t want to be a predictable target in the mornings. You don’t want anyone who should know your routine to know it. I am a creature of habit and rely on routines, but when it comes to running in the dark in the morning, I find it is safest not to have one.

What do you eat or drink before you go for a run? Eating something before running hurts my stomach and typically ruins my runs. I have experimented with this over the years and I think you should do what works for you. If eating beforehand doesn’t work then don’t do it. Just because a coach or a magazine told you that you MUST eat before you run doesn’t mean it’s true. Yes it took my body a little bit to adjust to not feeling hungry first thing, but I find if you eat enough at dinner and have enough protein then you will be just fine if you wake up, run and then eat after.

I drink a cup of coffee with a couple of ice cubes to cool it down faster. I waste way too much time browsing instagram in the mornings but I haven’t cut it out yet because I truly enjoy the time I spend sitting down drinking my coffee before I run. On days I need to fit in more miles I will try to move a little faster through my morning routine.

Do you have any safety tips? Here is an entire post I did on early morning safety tips – http://www.mile-posts.com/2013/04/early-morning-running-safety-tips.html

Here are also a couple more thoughts on safety. Please remember these are my thoughts and my thoughts alone, I’m sorry if they offend you. I’ve been running for over 12 years {marathons for 10} and have encountered a couple of unsafe situations along the way {including this time when I was chased down by a car with my kids —http://www.mile-posts.com/2012/06/i-got-chased-down-by-a-car-while-running.html – I am still haunted by thoughts of what I could have done better, did wrong, or how I could have avoided the situation all together. My thoughts/tips on safety are meant to help keep you safe, not to coddle you and tell you that you should feel safe all the time while running. I want to help keep you alive, happy and running for as long as you can!

  • I don’t agree with running with one ear bud in. Music is distracting. Even if you have one ear that you can try to listen to other things – you aren’t fully aware of your surroundings – you can get lost on the moment and in the music. I also personally believe that someone who is out to get someone looks at someone who has music on as an easier target.
  • I don’t carry mace. I have read too many articles that say it can be used against you and I tend to believe it. Your attacker could be stronger than you and the thought of having my sight taken away from me when trying to escape someone scares me.
  • Don’t zone out. Be VERY present in the moment and pay close attention to noises and your surroundings. When I first started running in the dark last fall Eric hid in our driveway and as I walked up to the house he jumped out and scared the crap out of me. I was VERY mad at first but he had a valid point. I had let down my guard because I was close to home and wasn’t paying attention. You are not safe until you get back in to your house. Do not let you guard down while running in the dark. Eric’s advice to me was to always run scared – running scared means paying attention and knowing that you have to play an active role in keeping yourself safe.
  • Wear a RoadID or some form of identification BUT do not put your home address on there. Should you get taken, your attacked now knows where you live. You want to keep your family safe {if you have one}.
  • It’s a GREAT idea to carry a phone with you. If you are worried about breaking your phone or messing it up then get a disposable phone that you can bring with you for emergencies.
  • When it’s dark don’t run where runners typically are. I stay away from parks and trails until it is light out. If someone is planning an attack on a runner they are probably going to head to where they typically see runners. I’m certainly not saying to never run on a trail or go to a park but I think that there are times of the day that you really have to think about safety over what is easiest, prettiest, or most convenient.

The comments on my last post about safety also have some great tips and bring up some good points. It’s not fun to talk about the possibility of getting attacked or taken but it happens and there needs to be awareness about it.

 

8 miles again this morning – 6 minutes faster than yesterday. Sometimes the only way to clear my mind of the fray is to push my body a little faster than it wants to go at 5 something in the morning.

  • Mile 1: 8:21
  • Mile 2: 7:44
  • Mile 3: 7:48
  • Mile 4: 7:14
  • Mile 5: 7:27
  • Mile 6: 7:23
  • Mile 7: 7:04
  • Mile 8: 7:01

 

More early morning questions? Leave them in the comments below!

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Mile Posts Endurance – Dorothy Beal – P.O. Box 2242, Leesburg, VA 20177

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Comments

  1. Great tips especially the ear buds thing I really don’t think you should ever run with ear buds if you’re running outside because it makes you less aware.

  2. It still bothers me that women in particular going out for a run face so many extra challenges … it is shameful.

    My biggest safety challenge is always that for whatever reason guys in pickups (always men, always pickup trucks, and usually ~25 – 35 years old) think it is amusing to try to push me off the side of the road.

  3. carljsamuelson says:

    I don’t know if it’s on your FAQ, but one tip I’d offer: If it’s dark, wear a headlamp.I don’t care if you think you look like a dork with it, it can save you in so many ways. I’d rather look like a dork, than be dead because someone couldn’t see me.

  4. Have you ever had a dog bite you? My husband and I have been running for years, mostly on trails, but recently we’ve been having trouble with dogs (mostly on back roads on our way to different trails). I got bit last summer, and my husband has been bit twice this year (all different dogs). I’ve thought about carrying pepper spray, but I doubt I’d have the heart to use it even if I was threatened by a dog. Just wondered if you’d had trouble with this aspect of protecting yourself during a run.

  5. Do you know any stats or numbers on runners attacked or assaulted in the mornings? Or just people out walking? I’m just curious if it’s high orif iit just feels dangerous because of the dark and lack of people? I would have geussed that it wasn’t a very high time for crime because crime tends to be down at 5 am. But I don’t know. And I don’t usually run that early. So now I’m wondering…

  6. Run scared is a great morning run motto! I bet we burn more calories in the morning too with all the adrenaline rushing from running scared! All of this is so true. I never thought about the mace being used against me! Good point. I have mace, but I forget to put it in my belt so it pretty much lives in my car. I too think running with ear buds is dangerous at any time of day when you’re alone or out where there is traffic. Thanks for the great tips.

  7. Good things to think about! I am an early morning runner, and I always tell my husband my route the night before. My husband likes me to carry mace but when I was “charged” by a terrier yesterday, I actually squirted the dog in the face with my nuun. (Spray bottles are used to train dogs so I knew it could work.) To chime in on eating, if I need “something,” I’ll eat a graham cracker but never anything more.

  8. Echo the ear buds. Only time I use them is in a dedicated run path, and even then I listen to an audiobook or podcast instead of music. In the mornings now I will sometimes tune my phone into a local radio station, put it in either my belt or armband, and let it play without headphones. So I get a little noise while staying fully aware of my surroundings.

  9. Great tips, Dorothy. I’ve been doing a lot more of my workouts in the morning, and you are right that you just have to get in the habit of getting up at o’dark thirty to make it happen. Changing my mindset and committing to discipline is the only thing that has worked for me when it comes to avoiding the snooze button! If it is still dark and I have to run alone, I run on the treadmill (I live in a big city where there is a lot of crime). Once light though, which is at about 6 a.m. now, I head out on my own. I think your hubby’s advice to run scared is really good to think about no matter what time of day it is. Congrats on another awesome run :)

  10. hahaha I would also have been mad at the hubby for that kind of stunt! But It is pretty good advice.
    I usually run alone as well, but Toronto is a very safe city. I never feel nervous when I am out and about. But I always run with my phone and map my route on my computer before I go so my hubby knows where I will be running.

  11. Thanks Dorothy! Good tips. I always like to sit and have a tea or a coffee before I run in the mornings too – somehow telling myself I’m getting up for a nice cuppa is easer than telling myself I’m getting up to head out into the cold and dark for a run :)

  12. Great tips!I also run in the morning and try to do most of the things you list. The other thing that I also do is to not run on country roads. I live in snake country and am scared of stepping on one, even if I have a headlamp on. I feel like there are less wildlife dangers on the neighborhood roads of my small-ish town.

  13. Thanks for the tips! Do you drink any protein after your run or during the day? If so what brand :)

  14. I don’t know how you do it, I have a hard time at 5:30am You are amazing!!!

I love a good comment!

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