It's been hot in SoCal lately. It was 105 last Friday and not much cooler on Saturday. Thankfully, we raced at night both days, running under the lights at the Woodbridge Invitational. By the time my girls went off at 9:20 p.m. for the Sweepstakes race it was chill enough for a sweatshirt, so thank goodness for throughtful race planning.
I mention the heat because it means I've added morning workouts in order to get some quality. We can't do much in the afternoon besides stretch and core, so the mornings have become our training go-to. I have to admit that although I am a morning person, the act of rising at 5:15 each day is a struggle. I slap down on the alarm, get out of bed, stand under a cold shower for a couple minutes (just like diving into a pool; no better way to wake up), and then hustle down to the track. My son Liam, who is a sophomore this year, makes the trek with me. We don't talk much until I stop at Starbucks and get some coffee in me. But I treasure this time nonetheless. Liam's the last of my three sons to go through high school, and as the day of becoming an empty-nester draws ever more near, I find myself getting more than a little sentimental.
I digress. The morning practices get better once the sun pokes over the horizon. There's less time to train, thanks to the coming school day, so we work with a greater sense of purpose: warm-up, drills, workout, stretch, shower. I have to admit that although we raced very well last weekend, we haven't done a lick of speedwork so far this year. Everything they did was purely based on aerobic mileage. It worked so well that the kids keep wondering what happened to our track workouts. These morning practices have continued that tradition, with today being a set of simple hill repeats. I can't quite say when we're going to add speed to the mix, but I'm enchanted by how well we are running without it. We shall see.
We're done with mornings by 7:30. By 8 I'm back at my desk, allegedly working on a book. But more often than not I'll fiddle with the season training plan, making sure I'm hitting all the right physiological notes. One of these days I will no longer be a coach, and so I must wonder how I will feel when there's no morning practice to get me out of bed, and no workout schedule to fiddle with. Strangely, those little additions to my day have enriched my life immeasurably. I read somewhere that one of the great myths about running is that it's a form of sacrifice. In fact, this daily discipline of running is normal. It is a form of play. Something as simple as a cold shower while Orion still shines brightly in the southern sky, followed by a quiet hour watching teenagers run up and down a lonely hill (actually, it was a paved hill, so it stopped being lonely at about 6:45, when people started going to work) does something very positive for the mindset.
Having said all that about running not being a sacrifice, morning workouts most definitely are. They are a commitment to excellence. A commitment to teammates. A forgoing of 11 p.m. Facebook sessions. It's showing up in the dark to run before the sun comes up, trying not to think about that warm bed as the pace increases and the easy run becomes a heartpounding tempo session.
Morning workouts are what makes a team a team. So thank you to the heat wave for making them possible.
So here we are. It's the middle of September. Nine weeks to the State meet. My varsity has the weekend off because we race twice next week. After that we get into October racing, when everything heats up in a hurry -- and I don't mean temperature-wise. The competition gets fast and furious as we all begin aiming toward the postseason. These September morning sessions will be just a memory. And though I will pretend that I might still get up at 5:15 to seize the day, it's more likely that I will sleep until 7.
Oh, how much I'll miss those extra two hours in my day.
Keep Pushing... Always