Under The Cover Of Darkness
With only the sound of my breathing and the scrunching of pebbles with my every stride, I covered 8.6K this morning. At 5am, my choice of weekday running partners are very much confined to, well, myself. Forced by an increasing workload, I've watched in frustration as 2 weeks of training gone down the drain. Despite what my weekend running partners may think, I'm not a morning person, even though I regularly start my weekend long runs at 5am in the final buildup towards the marathon. The earliest starting time I've achieved was an insane 4:30am. Recently I've also got into running at night, setting off into the darkness at 8:30pm once I've taken care of some of the kid minding. My Mom has mildly protested but it's difficult to put off a marathoner-in-training.
Bosses have the propensity of calling meetings at 6pm. If I want to sustain a training program, I've to get my runs in early in the morning - very early. No problems for the weekend long runs as I've a couple early birds for running partners but weekdays are another challenge. Running when the skies are still dark poses a completely new experience, and a little vague. Due to the darkness, it's harder to gauge distance as we typically use landmarks as markers. Coupled with a little early morning grogginess, I run according to effort and after checking my splits against the Forerunner, I found the amount of effort expended to be surprisingly consistent with my pace. Having said that, I seldom let the watch dictate my pace. With practice, you'll know your pace. Sidetrack: my Forerunner ran out of memory last night and I had to clear the entire history to make way for new recording.
For safety and personal reasons, I don't wear earphones when running on the roads. So once you're warmed up, you'll notice how acute your senses are. Deprived of other distractions - there's no one else on the roads nor many other sights and sounds - your senses are focused on your breathing and pace, your eyes on the lookout for rogue stray dogs (most will run away from you), rogue characters and rogue drivers. A tip when approaching a pack of dogs - clap your hands to warn them of your presence - these mutts don't react nicely to being surprised by the sudden appearance of a runner!
You smell things too. Like the presence of cows. A bat once slapped into my face, causing a near cardiac arrest and an outburst of expletives. You'll also find that your shadow will be doing some form of fartlek workout with you, falling back behind you as you approach a lamp post, then gaining on you once you passed that same lamp post. By observing
your shadow, you'll also know whether your form is OK or your arms are a little high and swinging too much.
The guards patrolling my housing area have grown accustomed to my presence and a couple even asked how far I ran. All would wave when they see me. I'd like to think that I'm a one-man Rukun Tetangga as my path would cross with the guard on the motorbike. We always take the opposite direction you see, so we sort of complement each other, though the only "weapon" I have is my voice should I come across any suspicious characters! Just last night I stumbled on 2 of them - get this - jogging at 8:45pm! My routine must have triggered something in them. As I passed them I urged them to keep it up. Those guys were hardly of the shape of a runner but this is certainly a good start. Hopefully they will also watch what they eat.
Runners are quite resourceful and seldom do we accept being deprived of our runs. If the course of life puts a dampen on your time to run, roll with the punches. Explore ways to get your runs in. Whether it's early in the morning or at night, you can still get your runs in. You need to exercise caution and be savvy - wear light coloured clothing for example
- but don't we ALWAYS need to be concerned about our safety regardless of the time we head out on the road?