Winter in Perth isn’t really that bad, truth be told. It is dark until 7am , give or take a few minutes depending on how deep into Winter you are, but temperature wise it very rarely gets into the single figures and if there is rain it is normally sporadic and avoidable. Today was a great example, it had been forecast as rain all day and torrential so I set the alarm for a 5am start determined to get one 10k in before the onslaught which was promised later in the morning. Now I’m a morning person when morning means sunshine and cooler temperatures, like in Summer. Winter is a different story as I have never really enjoyed running in the dark. I can stand the conditions because after 8 years in Aberdeen Perth has got nothing but darkness is not my friend. When I run it is to soak in the surroundings (when I actually look up , which truth be told is rare. Example this morning on Facebook there were several photos of a beautiful sunrise which I missed completely. ?) in the dark it is hard to soak up anything when you are watching your every step. (assuming there is little or no street lightning, which is normally the case in Perth due to the size of the metropolitan area, too large apparently to kit out with decent street lights?)
Summer mornings though are the complete opposite. Summer in Perth can be brutal with temperatures hot enough to cook eggs on concrete, and that’s a cooler day normally ! Mornings is the only rest bite from these temperatures that would probably make hell seem cold. Anything past 8am and you’re struggling to survive the temperatures, so most of the important runs need to be early morning. Early evenings can sometimes be acceptable but lunch time runs are for the suicidal runner and mad dogs of course. Morning runs in Summer are a thing of beauty and set you up for the day ahead. You bounce out of bed like tigger on steroids and explode into the outside surroundings. Winter, not so much, you struggle out of bed and then normally spend 5 minutes talking yourself up to put on your running costume before sheepishly opening the front door hoping for a monsoon to justify retreating back to the comfort of the warm bed, which you were mad to leave in the first place. When you eventually start it normally ends well and I reckon in the 8 years I’ve been logging my runs I’ve only had a handful that I actually regretted starting. This thought alone has propelled me into the dark on a number of occasions.
So what are the benefits of running on those Winter mornings ? The most important is the regimented approach you need for training, when you say you are going to run , you run. If you set your alarm then you need to follow through and go for that run. It’s a discipline thing and runners need discipline. The run itself need not be that important as running in the dark is hard to judge pace as you always feel you’re running faster than you actually are. (Which doesn’t help the situation !) The main benefit is setting you up for the rest of the day. After a dark morning run and a warm shower you feel so much better pre-work.
Sometimes though you need to pick your battles like this morning. With a forecast of possible storms I reset my alarm and decided I’d chance a lunch time run and the possibility of an after work recovery run if the planets aligned, by this I mean if I can complete my Dads taxi and dog walking chores before dinner and still find 50 minutes for a relaxing 10k. Confidence is low but after a good double-up day yesterday and the marathon less than three weeks away I’m actually happy with one soaking a day, two soakings a day would be greedy surely ?
With less than three weeks to the City to Surf Marathon now is the time when you can avoid to miss the odd run as you really should be tapering and concentrating on quality over quantity. Three weeks stills seems to be the norm when it comes to tapering but personally I have knocked a week off that and go down the road of a more aggressive (I.e. less running) two week taper. I found three weeks was just too long and I often felt I was losing fitness rather than rebuilding tired muscles. I’m use to running twice a day, every day and to suddenly stop running just makes me feel flat and also gives me more time to spend standing in front of the fridge, fidgeting !! Body and mind love routine and to change this can have the opposite effect to what you are looking to achieve. Well that’s my excuse anyway, as with all things running it is runner specific and I’m sure most runners benefit from a 3 week taper. It did give me the excuse I needed this morning to avoid the wind and rain and grab a few extra minutes in a warm comfortable bed performing one of a runners most important exercise, often over looked, sleeping ! (Though I was probably dreaming about running so maybe I should put down a few kilometres on Strava ? Interesting concept…..)