Routines: Part 1

We are all creatures of habit so it becomes quite a challenge for us to start a running program that impacts our daily or weekly routine.

But before you begin your new routine you need to figure out how best to transition into it.

If we are talking about adopting a serious running program in which you will approach 25+ miles per week then the planning process becomes a bit more involved.

So what do you do?

The first thing you do is to create a “routine calendar” which basically is a document that gives you a snapshot of your present routine.

This calendar should represent a typical week for you.

It should include”¦

“¦sleeping habits such as about what time to you go to bed at night and what time you wake up in the morning”¦

“¦eating habits such as how many times you eat during the day, when you eat, and how long you usually take to eat”¦

“¦the time you leave for work and when you leave work to come home and what time you get home”¦

“¦when you do shopping, any type of shopping like grocery shopping or clothes shopping”¦

“¦those special nights which you have designated as “date” night or dining out night”¦

“¦nights for watching your favorite television shows”¦

“¦days and times you presently visit the gym”¦

“¦family times that are set aside each week”¦

“¦house and garden chores like laundry, mowing the lawn, etc.

Quite a lot to think about isn’t there?

Let’s not forget weekends.
Weekends are important to note because we all have our Monday to Friday routines which hardly change but the weekend routines can vary. Do the best you can for Saturday and Sunday.

By now you are thinking, “Mike aren’t you going a little bit overboard with this calendar thing?”

The answer is definitely not because I cannot tell you how many friends have told me that they had to abolish any thoughts of running because they just could not “fit it into” their schedule.

In most instances they would from time to time try to get in some running but never could find themselves getting into a good rhythm.

Now this is due to one of two things, either they really have a difficult schedule and would find it impossible to figure out any kind of routine adjustment to help them get into a running program or they really weren’t serious about running in the first place.

So if you are serious about running this hopefully will help you get started.

So what do you do with this calendar once you’ve finished putting it together?

Look for gaps. That is, are there blocks of unoccupied time that jump out at you? For instance does it seem like every day there is one hour, the same hour that is always open?

If so, is it a time during the day when you could see yourself being able to get your gear on, do your miles, clean up and get back into your day? If so you may want to think about that possibility.

As you look at your calendar is there anyway you can shift some of your weekly errands or chores so as to adjust the week so that you have a consistent block or open time for at least three days a week?

Only you can answer that question.

For most people there are three choices for when they do their running.

For some people, like me, the choice is the morning option. This works well for those people who consider themselves “morning people.” I happen to be one of those people and I do most of my running in the morning, the early morning.

The early morning option is best for me because nothing else can interfere with my routine. If my first action of the day is to go out and get my running in then that means unless I oversleep there will be no “domino effect” from other events that will endanger my routine.

It does make for a long day as my job roles now include waking up all the roosters in town to make sure they announce the coming of the next day. I probably should get a paper route and earn a little extra cash.

Morning runs have pros and cons.

Running in the morning means breathing in fresh air, especially if you run before rush hour begins.

Running in the early morning in the summer means you avoid high temperatures.

Running in the morning gets your heart pumping and gives you a jump start for the day.

However there are some drawbacks.

If you run in the morning that means you need to get up in time to stretch and get your body ready for exercise. You just cannot jump out of bed and fly out the door”¦not good.

Running in the morning means cold temps during the fall, winter, and spring months so then the question is how cold is too cold to run?

Another occupational hazard of running in the morning is the company you run into.

I happen to live in New Hampshire and some of the courses I run go into some real rural areas.

I’ve been running in the morning for about 10 years now and I have had some interesting close calls.

One morning while running I was hailed down by one of my town’s finest because he wanted me to know that 15 minutes earlier there was a black bear sighting just a ¼ mile from where we were talking. Thank you officer.

Another morning I was running and an old farmer drove up to me in his 90 year old pickup truck to warn me about a moose he had spotted down the road and that the moose had it’s offspring with it. I changed my direction.

One time I was running and as I turned the corner I was surprised to see what I thought was a cardboard cutout, in great detail mind you, of a beautiful deer with magnificent antlers.

The cardboard cutout took off.

Another morning I remember running and as I approached a slight hill I thought I had seen a beautiful white cat walking along the side of the road”¦until I got close enough to see it was a white skunk.

I crossed onto the other side of the street.

Of course it wouldn’t be New Hampshire if I didn’t see an occasional wild turkey or I should say several wild turkeys out for a stroll.

We grow them tall up here so they can be brazen.

There are two instances that will always be at the top of my memory regarding my morning runs.

The first one happened about five years ago. I was running on an early Sunday morning, around 5 A.M. or so. There were no cars on the road.

As I was into my second mile I was in a somewhat rural area and as I made my way around a bend I noticed what was either a wolf or a coyote crossing the road. I always forget which of the two is the larger animal but I can tell you this four legged creature was the size of a Great Dane.

Luckily this animal did not see, hear, or smell me. I’m not sure if we would have had a confrontation but I wasn’t about to encourage one. I did an immediate about face and backtracked. My pace was pretty good that morning.

So, does it sound like you want to run in the morning?

Let me tell you one more story.

This took place about three years back during October. Now, as you can imagine, it’s at 5 A.M. in October so it’s still dark and a bit chilly.

My plan was to run somewhere between three and four miles that morning.

I’m into my first mile and everything seemed to be normal except that as I turned up one road I heard something I had never heard before, a wolf howling.

I thought that was pretty cool.

I saw this as entertainment and wondered to myself how long this entertainment would last.

It didn’t last long. After a few minutes it stopped.

Then I thought, “Wait! Wolves howl only while standing still or sitting down so that means”¦”

A slight wave of fear came over me. Was this howler on the move and would he have any reason to want to join me on my run?

I didn’t know but these are the things that go through your mind on a dark road on a dark morning after hearing a wolf howl”¦.and then stop his crooning.

From the moment the howling stopped I frantically looked around for something like a broken tree branch to make my trusty companion.

I found something to give me a bit of confidence if things got a bit exciting.

What I remember most however is that for the rest of my run I found my head swiveling around like that of an owl trying to be sure I was not going to be caught be surprise.

Most of the time I kept looking over my right shoulder.

Nothing happened but since then every time I go out to run I know that there could be company waiting for me.

But my present schedule pretty much dictates that morning runs are best for me so I’m stuck with them for now, and the surprises that await me every morn.

We’ll talk about the mid-day and late-day routines next time and hopefully all this information will help you determine what best works for you.

* * * * * * *

Mike’s Training Diary: Presently I am running about 5 miles every morning”¦or at least every morning I run”¦I do take days off. My total miles for June is 95 miles which is the most I have run in one month in almost two years.

My pace is about minute to a minute and a half slower than I would like it to be and I know what the problem is”¦my weight.

The less weight I push the more energy I have and the more energy I have the faster I can go.

So starting this week I am going to limit my caloric intake and really start focusing on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K.


Down the road we’ll explore running and weight.

I’m trying very hard to practice what I preach and not over train so I expect I will slowly transition into a 10K (6.2 miles) distance over the next month. My plan is to be in the 8 mile range by early September. It doesn’t make any sense; trust me, to push it any faster than that because peaking too soon is something we all want to avoid.

Happy Fourth everyone.

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