Should I Think Running at 4:45AM is a Big Deal?

15 minute warm up
3 x 800-600-600 (5K pace) with 90 second recoveries and 4 minutes between sets
Interval Results Table:
Set  800m       600m       600m
1      0:06:20     0:06:06    0:06:23
2      0:06:17     0:06:18    0:06:20
3      0:06:27     0:06:29    0:06:17
Avg  0:06:21    0:06:17    0:06:20

Marathon training requires sacrifice, but is a forfeiture of solace gladly yielded, a sacrifice or a blessing?

It’s 4am and my cell phone alarm is telling me it’s time to get up……and I do, gladly, willingly with some urgency. I want to get up and get going because today I am headed to the track to punish myself with intervals. The nearest local private school has an excellent track and it’s only a 15 minute drive (at 4:30am). There is a public school less than two miles from my house but somehow the massive public school budget has not allowed for an update to the track in 20 years so the hard black top pavement is all they have to offer these ancient bones. The 30 minute round trip seems a wise choice for the softness of the new, rubber track at the privately funded school.

My goal was to be out of the house by 4:30, running by 4:50 and back in the car on the way home by 5:45. I have an hour commute to work, so I have to be in the car, sucking down coffee by 7am. If I get home at 6am I can stretch for a few minutes, eat breakfast and have time to shower, dress and pack my lunch. So I move with purpose running through my mental checklist wishing I had a written list to follow because it takes less mental energy to follow a list than remember, especially at 4am. Water, sports drink, towels, GPS watch, heart rate monitor strap, wallet, keys, phone…..ok, ready to go.

The track is quiet and lonely at 4:45am. There’s no one else there that early, ever. No one else will show up for at least an hour and I’ll be done. I hear things though. Noises make me a little nervous. I wonder if someone is watching me, unseen, but present and wondering what the hell is this guy doing out here so early. I’ve been at the track before, finishing up a workout when the private school football team, which is very good, has come out for an early workout. I wonder if the coach has ever used an old guy like me as motivation for his team, pointing out how that guy is old and has no good reason to be out here. You guys are playing for a State Championship for Christ’s sake so push yourself like he does! Yeah, probably not good motivation for teenagers.

I wonder why I start my interval laps to fast, my Garmin beeping at me to “SLOW DOWN”. What if I ran slow until the machine beeped “SPEED UP” and then I just ran like I was being chased by a bear until I got my average pace back in to my target zone. It’s fear of failure. What if I dig a hole too deep for me to climb out of? So I push hard early, start to fail and then rally to make my goal; still wondering if running like I have to catch up might result in a better effort; running toward success instead of away from failure.

I plowed through the 3 x 800-600-600 sets and I’m happy with the effort and the results if not the method for how I achieved them. One of my friends does arrive as I am finishing my cool down. We greet one another and I get more details about the injury he is dealing with that I had heard about from one of my other runner friends two mornings prior, sort of marveling at the connectedness of this small early morning running community. His injury sounds bad, really bad, surgery bad but he is soldiering on and at the track at 5:45am because in his words, “I am able to pick my foot up again.” I wonder to myself, holy crap, are we nuts?