Maybe I’m Only Sleepwalking

Summer is now in full force, which means getting up in the predawn hours, throwing on my running clothes, and heading out before it gets too hot. Some mornings I feel as if I’m more sleepwalking than running.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a morning person. I’ve always enjoyed staying up late, writing or reading in the quiet hours when everyone else is asleep. There’s something very peaceful to me about nighttime.

Mornings are busy. Mornings mean getting ready for work, the monotony of another schedule to follow, another shower, more time spent putting on make up and blow drying my hair. Mornings are noisy, with cars driving too fast down my street and too many voices on the radio.

Mornings are only peaceful when I’m camping, and if I’m quiet and still enough I can see a deer, or elk, or bison, depending on where I am.

This summer, though, I’ve embraced getting up at 4:30 or 5:00am and meeting someone for a run. Part of it is my stubborn commitment to the training plan. Part of it is not wanting to run alone in the evenings. Mostly, I’m enjoying the way an early morning run makes me feel, even in the city.

The mornings can be beautiful at the lake, even if they’re warm and humid. While the rest of the city rushes and swirls around me, I run along the edge of a lake and forget everything but moving.

White Rock Lake

The Sunday trail runs get me out of bed even earlier. Setting the alarm clock on Saturday night, when I’ve stayed up way too late for tomorrow’s run, I inwardly groan when I set the alarm to go off at 3:50am. No one should ever have to hear an alarm at 3:50am.

But nothing is sweeter than hitting the snooze button at 3:50am either–except maybe hitting it a second time.

Early morning trail runs come with their own set of problems. Snakes, armadillos, spider webs, tripping over roots in the dim light, and fuzzy thinking. My friend Susan and I have yet to make our way from East Dallas to the trails in Grapevine without getting lost. It doesn’t matter who’s driving or who’s navigating. We have no problem getting back home.

I blame it on a lack of sleep.

Some people love getting up early for a run just so they can nap later in the day. I wish I was one of those people. I try and try, but napping is rare for me. If I sleep, I might miss something.

This week is the first time in seven weeks of training where I’ve felt less than enthusiastic about getting up so early. An 18 miler can do that to a person.

Staying up late, not napping, and getting up early = not getting enough sleep. Even on my rest days, when I can sleep late, my internal alarm clock goes off no later than 5:00am. My internal snooze button seems to be broken.

Next week I’ll be in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, camping and then watching my daughter marry the man she met there. Even though it will probably be cool enough to run later in the day, I know I’ll still get up early to run.

And I’ll know I’m not sleepwalking because I could never dream anything as beautiful as those mountains and the cool Wyoming morning air.




  1. iRuniBreathe

    Getting up at 3:50am does seem a little insane, but that’s how it is. I see it as an investment in your self, and you are worthy of all this goodness and more. It’s not so much sacrificing your evenings, as planning for your mornings and the beauty of accomplishment.
    Half the time after I’ve finished a long run I can’t even remember what happened, and I’m amazed that it was 2 hours that we ran.
    I love the photo of the runners!

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I actually feel kind of heroic getting up at 3:50am to go out and get my run in. It will only make me that much tougher in the end.
      I know what you mean about being out of it after your long runs, especially on the trails. I spend so much energy concentrating on not tripping or doing something dumb, the time and miles fly by. But suddenly I reach a point where I feel as if I’ve been running all day long, and I’m exhausted and can’t remember anything about the actual run. Somehow, this keeps me happy!

  2. AndrewGills

    I do feel for you. We have the same problem here in Brisbane, Australia. Summers are too hot to run unless you either go early in the morning or want to risk heat stroke and dehydration.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      It’s a tough place to live, but somebody has to do it, right? You, at least, have winter right now, so it’s good for me to remember that there are cooler places in the world, and my winter will one day return as well!

  3. mlchaplin

    I’m also not a morning person, but I’ve definitely embraced the morning run. On top of everything you said, it also means I get to start my day with an accomplishment. No matter what else I screw up, at least I did my run!

    Of course, I’ve never had to deal with snakes and armadillos on my run, just the occasional squirrel. You go!

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      That sense of accomplishment is huge, and a great way to start the day. Well said! We only have snakes and armadillos when we run trails on the weekends. The rest of the week it’s squirrels, an occasional coyote, and crazy drivers.

  4. runwritelivelife

    Wow. 3:50am. That’s pretty amazing! And I thought waking up at 5:00am was a big deal (actually, it was something I never did–voluntarily–until I became a runner). Even so, I’m not truly awake till I hit Mile 3.

    More power to you!

    Enjoy Wyoming! If it’s cooler there, then grab some of that air and bring it back with you…we’re about to get hit with triple digits big time.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      The crazy things we runners do to get our runs in before the heat takes over. Wyoming was indeed much cooler, but the sun at altitude is so intense, it’s tough to run in the middle of the day. Now that I’m home again, I’m back to running at in the pre-dawn hours. Blah!

  5. twentysixandabit

    I guess that’s one benefit of London’s cold damp climate – you can run at any time of day – don’t think I could cope with a 4am start – that sounds pretty brutal, but must be a great way to start the day once you’ve got it over with. Enjoy Jackson Hole – beautiful trails to run on there!

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I think I would love running in London’s damp chilly climate. Jackson Hole does have beautiful trails, but they are fairly precarious. The altitude is doing me in. I’m definitely not used to 7100 ft, where we’re camping. I think it might be a week of strenuous hiking instead!

  6. SeniorRunner

    Ah, you lucky devil! I’ve at least had the pleasure of driving by the Tetons a couple of times and briefly beholding them in their glory, but I’ve never really gotten to know them.

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