How to wake up (really) early for a run

Anyone with a perfect mind loves lingering in bed on Sunday morning. Taking a good night’s sleep, relaxing in the morning, sunk in, spend some time, kiss the one you love, drowse, go back into dreamland, just enjoy having nothing to do and the fact that Sunday morning in bed just sounds… right!

For me, Sunday has a tradition: going for a long run, early in the morning, leaving when it’s dark and arriving back home with fresh bread to have a lovely breakfast with the family. I really enjoy sitting down for food with my wife and kids on such a relaxed day. Training early allows me to have that and avoid any impact on weekend plans. I’m able to have time fully dedicated to myself, without feeling uncomfortable for leaving someone waiting.

Now… the routine breaks all laws of common sense…

How does one get out of bed?
Where does one find the courage?

Saturday evening. I’m planning next morning. I spent the whole day doing bricolage at home: assembling furniture, putting shelves up, fixing new lighting, moving things around, doing electrical installations. Not all Saturdays are like the one today but today… I’m trashed. It’s been raining for 3 days now and the forecast for tomorrow isn’t different. Haven’t seen the sun for days and I’m definitely not going to see it tomorrow during the run. It’s going to be wet. And muddy. Appetite for waking up early and going out? Zero!

I go to bed and still… I set the alarm clock to 6 AM.
Why?!? We’ll get there…

I wake up not knowing where I am. What’s happening? The alarm clock is not ringing but I feel a vibration… on my wrist… of course, the sports watch silently waking me up before the alarm on the mobile phone goes off, loud and clear. The watch helps me wake up but leave the whole family still sleeping. I get in the toilet and my mind is screeching to get back to bed.

I get my stuff and still… start dressing my sports clothes on.
Why?!? Oh… we’ll get there soon…

I pack my gear, prepare a bag with some changing clothes, hit the kitchen for half a banana and a glass of water, put my shoes on and get ready to travel. A trail runner makes his long runs in places with elevation. That means I have to drive. Düsseldorf is flat but a 20 min drive quickly gets me in a proper training spot.

While I’m driving, my mind is playing tricks on me.
“Go back! Go back!!!” is all I can hear….
“You can still make it to bed!” it continues…
But I’m not listening. I keep my mind focused and I just keep driving…

Why?

Because that’s the big secret on how to do it!

The way to get out of bed early is to trust yourself!
The way to keep going is to trust that it will be worth it!
The way to get out of bed, to get dressed, to keep driving, is to trust that by enduring you’ll be back into a memorable sweet place a couple of hours from now.

I’m running in Sonnborn, a place of perfect runs, thinking on how cold and wet it was the moment I parked the car. It was already raining when I left the house, dark sky, city lights still on. While I knew this could happen, it feels even tougher than expected to leave the comfort of the car seat, the warmth of the vehicle, the dryness of it all. Well… I got out anyway and am now in the middle of the forest.

My body is warming up, clothes less wet than expected, despite the light rain. Temperature is 10ºC, typical for early Autumn. There’s a light breeze brushing my ears, reminding me that mother nature is with me. The floor is covered with leaves of all colours… yellow, brown, orange, red, grey, black… some still green… The atmosphere is humid, loaded with small water particles from the fog which engulfs the valley, patches of clouds lingering low over my head. The noise of my running shoes hitting the fallen leaves is as relaxing as refreshing. It has a constant rhythm, a nice-sounding cadence in the same wavelength as my running body. Movement is fully synchronised with the day-dreaming of the mind, half conscious, half into the void.

The patches of green where the sheep, horses, animals at large used to pasture, is now empty. As summer time is gone, so are they. The ground is damped, streams of water flowing through the trails I’m running on, the rest of the land completely muddy. I cross water streams often, my shoes getting as quickly full of dirt, as super clean from the poodles I get into. It feels like being a child again…

Suddenly it’s raining heavier. The weather is worsening. The sky is still dark even though it is now daytime. I come to realise that the leaves on the trees are storing millions of water droplets, the wind blowing on them the reason I took a shower earlier. It’s funny how nature works… it’s delightful to feel in full harmony with it.

I’m completely alone this time. All my running buddies haven’t been able to join or bailed out for the most various reasons (all good rest assured 😉 ). I think of them and drift into memories of when we had fun together. Running in the forest. Chatting in the trails. Enjoying each others company and sharing a common flow state. It is wonderful to run together. Today and like many other days, it is as wonderful to run alone…

My training comes to an end…
I quietly walk around as my heartbeat slows down…
I cross the bridge next to the car, the Wupper river flowing calmly, imune to all the stress that we humans live in this world.

As my mind smoothly leaves the void, I feel in a pure state of bliss.
Happy, calm, serene, relaxed…

This is the moment to memorise…
This is the moment to be saved in the little box of secrets…
This is the moment that is going to get me out of bed next Sunday (early) morning…

I now have the confidence that next time, chasing dreams is all about trusting that I’ll live joyful moments like the ones today. I’ll trust myself to know how good it feels, how the experience will taste, despite all the challenges to get into it. Getting up. Sleepy. Dressing up. Doubtful. Gearing up. Questioning. Driving. Thoughtful.

None of it matters really, for the reward is so much worth it!

I can now get back home, to that lovely breakfast with the family.
With an added bonus that I still have a full day of Sunday ahead of me. Hurray!

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