The Break of Dawn
I guess the idea behind doing a month of running everyday in July is that it should be nice and dry and there’ll be no excuses not to hit the road. And it has been dry. It has also been extremely hot the last few days, so much so that the temperature is likely to hit a record-breaking peak not long after I hit publish on this post.
A lot of good runners come from hot countries, humid countries, so it shouldn’t be an excuse, right? But when it comes right down to it we Brits just can’t acclimatise to it. The sunshine, and heat, comes and goes without much consistency. So what I’m saying is that training is hard right now. The only way around it (and don’t get me wrong, it is still sweaty work) is to get out in the morning. I’m not much of a morning runner though. On my days off I get up and fuel up with carbs and coffee and write for a few hours before I head out around 10/11 clock, but by that time at the moment the heat is barely tolerable to walk around in, let alone run.
So currently I’m out the door before 8, at the latest.
Although it feels like it takes a little longer for my legs to really get going and into a rhythm it is nice to get a session in first thing, it is nice to get it done and not have to worry about how I’m going to feel when I get off my shift.
Plus the air and light of the morning is just…different. Take my run this morning for instance. It rained overnight, hard. Thunder and lightning woke me in the early hours. When I laced up and hopped the front gate and began my 7-mile session (with 5k of it ran faster than 10k race pace) the air was thick with steam. The sheets of water which covered the roads in the black of night was evaporating with visible pace as the sun and temperature rose. It obscured the morning in a thin veil of fog, and the sun strained its way through this mist in an eerie manner you would see at no other time. The light dissipated in the steam clouds and spread bright white and almost blinding. It was hot and tough, and I had to fight through some early morning stiffness in my legs, but it was worth it to see these well-trodden roads in a new light.
The Key is Consistency
But is there any other benefit to running in the morning? Other than it meaning I don’t have to run in peak heat and can get a little cute and poetic when describing my session?
Conveniently, a new study might just answer my question.
The research journal Obesity wanted to evaluate how consistency in the timing of exercise impacted weight loss, and what they found was that the more consistent you can be, the more “moderate to vigorous” exercise you are likely to get. So although there is no magical time of day when you should exercise, by trying to be consistent in exactly when you exercise you are more likely to actually do what you plan on doing.
The study suggests that the key may be in “consistent cues” which help us create a habit out of our exercise regimes. In their own words:
“For example, through consistently exercising immediately after work, leaving work may become paired with going to the gym.”
By exercising inconsistently we avoid creating these cues, and so it becomes more difficult to create a habit out of our physical activity. The journal was focused on weight loss, and the study found that participants who stuck closely to a consistent schedule were more likely to hit their targeted exercise amounts for a week than those who did not, and so it is to be expected that these people will lose weight, or keep weight off, more successfully than those who do not.
Although I’m too interested in running for weight management, there is something to be learned here. I am currently running in the mornings to avoid the heat, and I may be best to stick with it for a while if I want to make sure I keep my run streak going. By consistently running in the mornings I will begin to create cues in my routine which my mind and body will associate with running, meaning I am less likely to avoid my run or miss it because I feel like I don’t have enough time, as it will naturally become part of my routine.
Jurassic Coast 10k
Every week I pick a race, or sometimes specifically not a race, big or small, to shine my tiny spotlight on. This weekend we’ve got one of the most scenic 10k races in the country (check out the video on their website) and it’s completely not-for-profit. It’s run by volunteers and raises money for FORCE Cancer Charity, a local charity working in Exeter, supporting patients, providing free information and advice, and helping fund further cancer research.
It is a multi-terrain event which will take runners on a very coastal path, offering up unparalleled views of the Devon countryside and…well, the ocean. So if you’re into the idea of running a well-marshalled and organised event in beautiful surroundings, all for the benefit of a local charity (and who wouldn’t be?) this one might just be for you.
For more info visit jurassiccoast10k.co.uk/