I am so not a morning runner!

My wife has an annoying habit of bopping out of bed in the morning, usually cheerfully. In contrast, I drag my sorry rear-end out, creaking and complaining along the way. I get moderately more cheerful if I can get up when I want to, instead of to the alarms. I am very much a creature that prefers his own rhythms.

We use three alarms, two of them to music. The first goes off about ten minutes before my wife gets up. We started this alarm years ago when I noticed that the alarm would go off, we'd snuggle for ten minutes, and my sweetie would end up running late - well, off schedule - getting to work. So, we set a pre-get-up alarm. A couple of decades later, we still use it.

Then her alarm, which used to be the radio at six a.m., announce her turn to get out of bed. Problem with the radio. The news comes on, I listen and by the time I got out of bed, I was in a foul mood. News organizations do not specialize in good news, and every one of them is biased as heck. The new alarm at six sharp is a gentle tone. She turns off hers, I kill the music on mine, and I doze and dream.

I get a lot of story ideas in this intermission. Some are exceedingly weird, some are viable. All are entertaining.

The next alarm thirty minutes later, playing Mannheim Steamroller, gets me to my feet, if grudgingly. Don't laugh at the name - they've got a great sound and are creative in re-imagining classics. I use their Christmas carols. Anyway, for the last month, this was my cue to dress in run gear and get ready for my sweetie to drop me off six miles from the house to run home.

Now, for the record, I hate running early in the morning. When I race marathons with early morning starts, I get up at three a.m. so my body can wake up and get loose. No such luck in a training cycle when getting up in the middle of the night is not an option. I tried using hot showers to loosen the muscles, but that was only moderately successful. Stretching cold muscles accomplishes diddly. I grumped my way out the door.

I'm also slower in the morning. My pace drops off a good thirty seconds per mile in the morning, except on trails. (Got no idea why that is. Best guess is I might be a bit of a head case.) About the only good thing was that I met a great number of cheerful people on the greenbelt in the morning as I lumber past with all the grace of Lurch.

I've tried running in the morning before, most notably with Adric, a friend, when we both needed to get ready for a Spokane-to-Sandpoint relay. Never has it gone well, though the sunrises can be spectacular.  My back does not like morning runs. It begins to lock up. Then it spasms. Then it gets worse, swelling and applying pressure to a herniated disc at the L5 vertebrae in my back until I can barely move. It got to the point where the disc was pressing on nerves, sending shooting pains down my right leg. No bueno.

The damaged disc has nothing to do with running, by the way - I managed to hurt it as a teenager lifting 180 pounds over my head. Then I played a football game the next day. Teenage boys are dumb, sometimes.  

It's taken two weeks this time to rehab the back. I've learned to be very cautious and careful.

I'm a slow learner. Given that morning runs break me, I'm taking my training back to the afternoons. Yesterday was the first run in about three weeks. It was nearly 100 degrees out and I'm not heat acclimated. It still went better than a run in the morning. Bonus, no back pain when I rolled out of the sack.

If you're the kind of runner that can go out and tackle the run in the morning, my hat's off to you. For me, mornings are for drinking coffee, baking sourdough bread, and writing.

Run gently, friends. If you're in the heat of the day, stay smart and hydrated. I'll see you out there.