athletes · training

“Hugging the blankies” and early morning exercise


It’s fall. It’s dark. And it’s getting cold. My bed is warm and often full of cuddly people and dogs.

Some mornings I miss planned workouts because staying in bed is just such a lovely idea. In Australia on days of early morning training rides I used to listen for rain on the roof. Just sprinkles? I should go. But full on rain? Now that’s a good reason to sleep in. Zzzzz.

When it was cold and dark and I was tired, the sound of full on serious rain could make me smile.

I love how Australians tease one another. They’re brilliant at that. And one of my favorite jibes is “blankie hugger.” That’s for the person who sleeps in when it sprinkles or the alarm didn’t go off or who just decides “what the heck” and goes back to sleep.

On my last visit I was training at 6 am at a location 20 km out of town which meant heading out on the path at 5 am. This allowed me time for a flat and/or time to rest between the ride to training and the training itself. That meant a 4:30 am alarm and breakfast and coffee made the night before. As well, headlights charged, bike computer charged, phone charged, air in tires checked, and clothes all laid out at the foot of the bed. I needed to be on auto-pilot to get on the road in time. I love that time of day, riding in the dark with glimpses of sunrise, meeting the same kangaroos on the bike path most days.

My son, the early rising athlete, shares my love of early mornings and also my love of the occasional sleep in. He likes setting his alarm for the usual time, even when he’s having a day with no early morning commitments, and then noting that he can go back to sleep. It feels better, he says, knowing he’d usually be awake and soon up and out the door.

It’s a funny thing about rowing. We train in the early evenings and the sound of thunder or high winds means it’s a no go. But that never feels good. Gee, great. I can stay at work later. Grrr.

There is something about stolen sleep that’s extra special. The challenge is making it just an occasional thing. Otherwise, I risk the label “blankie hugger.” Not that anyone here would call me that. I miss Australian name calling and slang.


6 thoughts on ““Hugging the blankies” and early morning exercise

  1. Speaking as a full-on blankie hugger, I loved the comments about listening, sometimes hopefully, for the sound of rain to justify rolling over in bed. I know this feeling well. And you reminded me of how nice it feels when we actually get out of bed and on the road early. Not that I do this very often (I’m not a good early riser/rider), but when I do, it feels almost magical.

  2. Morning exercise is simply impossible for me. At best, I don’t get hurt but my performance sucks. Hate those days when my performance is just not there, for whatever reason.

  3. I spent the last three weeks blanket-hugging. (And I also listen for rain as my excuse to stay in bed a bit longer.) However, marathon training calls and so this morning I peeled myself out of bed so I could go run with my husband. We took a route that takes us on a paved trail around a small lake, and the sun was just starting to turn the eastern horizon pinkish when we hit that part of the run. It was really a glorious thing, and I was grateful that I was able to overcome my sleepy inertia so I could be outside to see it.

    But man, sometimes that bed feels good.

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