I've run (or I should say raced) many marathons. At least 10 I think. People have asked me later about some fact or other about the course or the scenery,...
The other day I was picking my kids up from school alongside my friend Roz who was doing the same. My younger one had been home sick all day but I had to drag her out to pick up her brother. Roz’ younger one was under-napped for having taken part in a school concert. Our boys were typically being silly, excited, and revved up on sugar as a result of the celebrations from one of their last days of school before the holidays. Roz and I were desperately trying to carry/cajole small people while locating boots, gloves, books of older siblings. Everyone was instantly ravenous and otherwise uncomfortable in some way which seemed to require immediate attention. It was only 3 p.m. We had five hours ahead of us which would involve getting everyone home, dinner made, a creative kid activity that involved exercise (unless we wanted three hours of constant whining and/or screen time), and then the bedtime routine including bath, snack, teeth and story. Tranquility and downtime seemed so far away. Roz and I looked at each other and both said simultaneously:”I can’t wait until 5 a.m.”
5 a.m. is when we meet to run. I discovered the window for running at 5 a.m. out of necessity. Often there are no other times in my day to fit it in, so I initially tried it out to see if I could do it. It turns out it suits my life perfectly. Sometimes I like to run at 5 a.m. even if I do have the option of going later in the day. There is something so calm and peaceful about that time. No one else needs you, you’re not running away from other responsibilities, you’re not in a rush, you’re not already stressed or annoyed from a recent interaction, you don’t come back in the door to chaos and emergencies. At 5 a.m. the day is a fresh start, full of optimism. You leave a quiet house and return to a quiet house. Roz and I meet and fall into a rhythm beside each other – it’s just us and the empty roads. We have an hour to enjoy this calm, peaceful and rare time to ourselves. We chat or run silently. We laugh or tell serious stories. An hour passes very quickly. I reach the end of these runs relaxed, happy and ready for my loud and busy life. I love the energy and bustle that surrounds me during the day, but once started, there is no ‘off’ switch. I know I need a window to myself in order to remain charged and available for others. Right now that window is at 5 a.m. Maybe in ten years it will be different, but for now I’ll take it and be grateful for it!