Running in the morning for the last month gave me stitches in my side, which told me I should ease up. But the answer seemed to be also — or even instead — that I needed a snack.
One reason I find morning exercise — and mornings in general — so difficult is that I tend to be hypoglycemic: I have unstable blood sugar that tends to run low. Going for long periods without eating and consuming high carbohydrate meals sends my blood sugar levels spinning down. (This was diagnosed when I was about 12 years old through a 5-hour glucose tolerance test — more typically used to diagnose diabetes. How did my physician guess the problem? I regularly felt weak just before lunch. I remain notoriously grumpy when hungry.)
So, I am reminded that not being a morning person can be less a question of personality than of physiology. After all, sleeping means at minimum an 8-hour fast, and easily 12 or 13 hours. This can cause a problem for anyone, whose blood sugar levels will tend to be at their lowest after so long without eating. So others may find, as I have, that it helps to have some juice or milk before morning exercise to bring blood sugar levels up. Not only will it make the run more pleasant with the energy boost you get, but it should improve your performance . Sure you may not burn quite so much fat, if that’s your goal. But will you burn any if you are miserable and in pain?
My progress is slow, but I am finally into week 5 of the Couch to 5K program, which is better than I’ve managed in the 18 months that I’ve used it to provide benchmarks. I try to keep in mind that their pace is not intended for someone almost 50 years old and 30 lbs. overweight, even though the program is meant to be gradual. And I’ve never managed to maintain the pace of three runs per week for more than two weeks in a row till now. My aim is to make it four.
Running in the morning seems to help me get out regularly because there are no competing demands aside from the (admittedly profound) inertia of bed. In the evening there can be too many distractions and excuses. It’s easy to put it exercise off. And I’m finding the early run gives me energy through the day that really helps me get things done, and relax later.
However, I could use a little more positive motivation, so I have picked up a mini music player that I can clip onto my clothes. It just arrived and I’m looking forward to using it!
I have also signed up for the Windsor Zombie Run! Yes, that’s right: I’m paying to run 5k through the woods, chased by people dressed up as zombies who will be hiding in the bushes. I get three ribbons to signify my health, and if I lose all three I’m “eaten.” That is certainly helping my motivation to progress to running 5k!