The Early Bird

Changes #3 Early Bird

It was a frigid Valentine’s Day here in VA. One weather forecaster quipped, “If you don’t have a honey to keep you warm, better get some Gore-Tex.” Ha. I got my Gore-Tex out for my long run on Saturday, that’s for sure. It was 17 degrees with a 6 degree wind chill. Fortunately we were running at Manassas Battlefield, and in the shelter of the trees, the temps actually felt fine. When we came out from the cover to run up a short exposed hill, I felt like I was trying to climb Everest, with the wind pushing me sideways on the snow-covered trail. Here are my running partners before we embarked on our 9 mile journey. Not all of them were happy at being made to stand still so I could get the perfect shot….

valentines manassas

Awww…some people dressed for Valentine’s…

Every Sunday we host a garage spin. Yesterday’s theme was, of course, LOVE, and I was hard pressed to find enough upbeat love songs (even though I was using a little poetic licence) for the 100 min spin. I used my list from last year but needed a few more tunes, so I had to add some slow songs. I put the music on random and devised a tempo workout that included “random hills” – when we heard one of the 5 slow tunes, we had to get into the hardest gear and climb! It kept things interesting, not knowing when a hill would appear!

valentines spin

My ROB (run off the bike) was on the loathesome dreadmill because it was TEN degrees. I can’t wait for Spring.

valentines treadmill

Those legs haven’t seen any sun in a while…

One thing that made me feel a little warmer this week was a cool gift from Bolle. I mentioned in a previous post that I’m racing on Maverick Multisport‘s triathlon team this year, and Bolle is one of the team’s sponsors. I have to admit, I thought Bolle only made ski goggles, as I have a pair of those which I LOVE, but I’ve found out they make some pretty cool shades as well as great ski and bike helmets. Here’s what they sent me:

valentines bolle

Sweet shades, visor, ice pack, glasses cleaner, lip balm, and lanyard from awesome sponsor Bolle

OK, onto my 5 changes for 2016. One change I made this year was getting up early to run. I’m not a natural morning runner. Sure, I like the feeling of being done with my run early, and running at 7am works great for me on weekends, but 6am weekday runs, unless they’re in the middle of the summer, are not something I really look forward to. (I know that for those of you who run at 5 or – gasp – even earlier, I must sound like a complete slacker…) Still, with a new job that has set hours, and given that I’m even worse at evening running, I made a commitment to run early two mornings a week. Once I got started, and got a couple of running buddies to join me on a regular basis, I discovered it wasn’t all that bad. I have to get up around 5:15 to have some coffee and make sure I’m fully awake by 6, and the first mile feels a bit strange as my body is waking up, but then I get into a groove and before I know it we’ve run 6 miles and I’m ready to start my day. The only thing is I can’t do any fast paces at that hour, I’m just too sleepy, so I reserve that for an afternoon run. Thankfully I get off work by 4pm so there’s still some daylight.

I got this totally obnoxious Tracer360 glo-vest from Noxgear that pretty much says, “cars, move outta my way,” it’s so loud. There are several different colors and flashing rates, so you can look like a psychedelic Christmas tree all year round. I generally choose the multicolor option. This lame pic doesn’t do it justice but it’s all I’ve got:

valentines glo

As I finish typing this, we’ve been hit with a couple of inches of snow so it looks like I’ll be dragging the Yaktrax out again. They’re getting some good use this year.

Are you an early morning runner? Any tips for feeling less sleepy in the early hours? (Go to bed earlier, I know…)



  1. I’m not an early morning runner right now, but I tend to be in the summer months because that’s when it’s bearable to run in SC. I still do some early runs, though. Like you I have trouble moving fast early so I just changed my workouts to be mainly progression runs and that was a big help for me, learning how to pace. I take it super easy for at least the first mile! I think once you get into a routine and your body adapts (including sleep, fueling, hydration, and bathroom), it is not so bad… I would take Friday off but otherwise I always ran in the mornings because if I got out of the habit it was hard to retrain my body back to it!

    Garage spin looks so fun! Way less formal than a spin class and great that you guys can get together for training without braving the cold.

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      Hey Amy Lauren! Great to hear from you! Progression runs are a great idea – I should try those. Yeah, I love our garage spins; we have a regular crowd that shows up, and of course I don’t have to go anywhere! Thanks for the tips. Hope your running is going well.

  2. Calesse Cardosi says:

    I am totally a morning runner. The hardest part is getting out of bed and out the door. I think running in the morning still isn’t as bad as swimming though.

    Having running buddies helps for sure, as does being in bed early. I’m usually up around 5 am for a normal run and closer to 4:45 or a bit earlier for a hard workout, since they usually take longer, so I try to be in bed by 8:45/ 9 pm. The hard stuff is definitely more difficult to do early in the morning, but again, once you’re out there, it’s not so bad.

    Good that you have the reflective gear! Safety first.

    For motivation, I reward myself with a warm bowl of oatmeal or pancakes or occasionally a splurge from Starbucks (Chia Tea late!) whatever you like that’s warm for breakfast afterwards. It feels good to get your run done and then not have to worry about it, unless you have to double, which I do sometimes. After teaching all day, it’s more challenging for me to muster up the motivation to run than it is to get out and get in in early. Also, once you get in the habit of running early, it becomes part of your routine and you don’t even question it. Plus it makes getting up for the weekend runs seem like such a luxury, even if you’re running at 7 am!

    Good for you putting in all of this work! It’s going to pay off.

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      Calesse, you have the BEST tips! Thanks so much for the motivation. I definitely need to go to bed earlier. I’m already going to bed earlier than my boys, though! It’s true that teaching all day does seem to sap my energy. If I run as soon as I get home I’m ok, but if I sit down…it’s all over! Hope to see you at spin soon!

  3. I’m an early morning runner. But around this time of year, I’m tired of fighting the cold and darkness. The only thing that keeps me going is that I know it’s going to get better…
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted..Big Sur Marathon Training–Week 2My Profile

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      Wendy, that’s a great way to look at it and something I’ll try to remember next time I’m asking why I do this to myself!

  4. Awesome spin workout!!! I love the feeling of finishing a run super early but despise the waking up part. I’m still working on not sleeping through my alarms 🙂 Since moving to Florida I had to start a lot of runs at 5 or 5:30 am and it never gets easier. Way to get it done! xo
    Jesica @rUnladylike recently posted..Falling Off the Wagon & Getting Back UpMy Profile

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      I’ll bet that it’s vital to get in those early morning runs in Florida! We’ll be visiting in March and I’m looking forward to hot sweaty runs!

  5. I love that you host a spin class– why didn’t I join in when I had the opportunity? I don’t recognize any of your running buddies, but sure glad you have a tribe to keep you company out there. I am jealous of the cold weather. It’s been in the 90’s here and I am miserable. I’m not ready for the heat– we had like two weeks of cool temps… it’s an oven here 365 days.

    I am slowly getting my fitness back and something that keeps popping in my mind is to hire you as my coach. I don’t mind creating my own plans, but just feeling unexcited and blah. Let’s catch up soon. xoxo

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      We started garage spin last winter, after Brian stopped doing them. So we weren’t doing them when you were here, or I would have insisted you join us!

      I can understand your desire for cooler temps. Running when it’s 90 degrees is no fun! We need to switch places for a few days for a reminder. I would just like to not have to navigate ice and snow, don’t mind the cold so much.

      My coaching schedule is pretty full, but I’d take you on in a heartbeat, so just let me know!

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