Part One Of The Summer Survival Action Plan: Run Early

Extreme circumstances call for extreme measures. I live in Texas and it’s almost summer. Time to take action.

I am not a morning person. Never have been, never will be. After twenty years of teaching and falling asleep exhausted on the couch each night by 8pm and getting to work before 7am each day, I love nothing more than staying up late and sleeping in. Anything that endangers that one small indulgence on my part is a really big deal.

But Texas summers are extreme. Now that the days are getting longer and the AC runs nonstop, running in the evening is just too much torture. I’ve run out of excuses. It’s time to put part one of my Summer Survival Action Plan into effect.

Last summer I failed miserably. I was the bitchiest, snarkiest, most irritatingly unhappy runner in Dallas. I complained louder, longer, and stronger than anyone in the entire state. If you had given me a megaphone I would’ve gladly yelled out my misery to the entire world.

But not this year. Oh, I know all my friends are reading this and rolling their eyes in disbelief, but you’ll see. I have a plan.

Last summer I was Debbie Downer. This summer I’m Pamela Positive.

My Summer Survival Action Plan began in earnest this morning. Determined to turn every negative thought about level orange ozone alert days and impending triple digit heat into a positive, I armed myself with my greatest asset: my running buddies.

Part One of the Summer Survival Action Plan is this: Run early in the morning.

Being neither a morning person nor employed make this sadly difficult (I know, I know, I have zero sympathy from 99% of the working stiffs reading this post). In order to  succeed at part one I need a reason to get up out of bed and out the door. I need someone to be waiting on me, someone I know who will keep me accountable and keep me going.

Bill accepted the challenge. We made a plan to meet the next morning at 6am near the SMU track to run on the Katy Trail. I went to bed a little excited and eager to implement the first part of the Summer Survival Action Plan.

The Katy Trail is a3.5 mile long abandoned rail line that has been converted into a paved path that runs from American Airlines Center on the edge of downtown to just shy of Southern Methodist University. SMU is also known as The Hilltop, and downtown is built along the banks of the Trinity River, so that tells you something about the elevation.

The morning was a blissfully cool 69 degrees. A fair number of runners had the same idea of congregating in the parking lot of Luke’s Locker, though most ran over to the SMU track field to do speedwork. I was so glad we were not doing speedwork.

We headed over to the Katy Trail, always on the lookout for the Highland Park police who like to hassle and ticket runners for running in the street. The trail was sparsely populated with other early bird runners and walkers, and it was a beautiful morning. We saw Lauren and Kristi, two friends of ours from our running group. I still have yet to see Troy Aikman, who supposedly lives nearby and runs frequently on the trail. I’ve heard he’s on the 9:30am schedule.

Katy Trail

Dallas is no Denver, but the first 2.5 miles are ever so slightly downhill. Bill was unrelenting and really pushed the pace. We kept a 9:05 average, with an 8:50 second mile, and I was proud we were able to hold the pace all the way back up the hill and to the parking lot.

Part one of the Summer Survival Action Plan was a resounding success. Not only did I have a great run, I got home just after 7am and did 40 minutes of yoga. I have to admit that I love the way I feel when I run first thing in the morning, and that I get so much more accomplished during the day.

It will be tougher to motivate myself to get up and run when the low temperature for the day is 92 degrees at 6am, but it’s still better than the alternatives: running in the evening when it’s 105 degrees, running in the dark when it’s 100 degrees, or not running at all.

But I’m not complaining. Pamela Positive, remember?


  1. spareribs lamothe

    This is an excellent piece of advice. As runners we like to think we are in control, and that also means being in control of how we feel about things. Attitude is everything. Great post.

    • Run Nature

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Ribs! I’m determined to not let the summer temps get to me this year. So far, so good! It helps to have such a great running community in Dallas, and so much combined wisdom–yourself included, of course.

  2. Leslie

    Now that summer is upon us, I have started running in the mornings on southernmost part of the White Rock Creek Trail (From NW Hwy to Royal/Greenville). Even at 7am-8am time frame, the majority of this 3.5 mile stretch is in the shade – so if you want to sleep in a little more, its a good option.

    • Run Nature

      I am definitely going to take you up on this offer very soon. Part two of the Summer Survival Action Plan is to always run with friends. Thanks for giving me a later option, Leslie.

  3. Genevieve

    You and I have the same plan, positivity! Pamela Positive meet your equally positive running buddy. I’ve been sad about having to run alone, but no more. I got up and ran 3.5 miles in middle of the day. Not the smartest idea, but at least I got out the door. Tomorrow I will go to my first Fleet Feet Social Run and Thursday I will go to my first Raleigh Running Outfitters Social Run. It’s too easy to feel sorry for myself, but if I don’t make the first move how am I going to make any friends?

    • Run Nature

      Exactly! It’s so easy to wallow and feel sorry for ourselves, isn’t it? Genevieve, you will have no problems making new running friends. We all miss you, but I really miss running with you. I’m going to miss you most of all on our long runs later in the season, especially when it’s a gazillion degrees. Just thinking about you running in cooler temps, though, will make me happy (and jealous)!

    • Bill Borowski

      Hang in there G… If Angela is Pamela Positive, you can be Gleeful Genevieve! I know that all you need to make friends is an opportunity and it sounds like you have a couple this week. Keep us posted on how it goes, I am sure you will be the Belle of the Ball (so to speak!)

  4. Li Li

    Hi! I just found your blog via twentysixandabitmiles’ blog and I just had to comment on this post. I too live in Dallas and frequent the Katy Trail. I did not know that the HP police gave out tickets to street runners! Good tip to watch out for them!

    Good luck with your summer running– we all need it, no? 🙂

    PS– I’ve been lucky enough to see Mr. Aikman twice now. I don’t make eye contact but in my head I’m kinda yelling like a fangirl. 😉

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Hi, Li Li, we’ve probably passed each other on the trail or at the lake before! My summer running is coming along, mainly because I’m diligently following my training plan and not letting myself think about the heat. In other words: Just do it! Thanks for visiting and commenting, and stay cool out there. It’s only the beginning of a very long summer for us . . .

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