Wednesday, May 31, 2006


This post will ramble a bit. But it will get to running in the end.

In Scotland, a popular mountaineering endeavour is to climb all the Munros, peaks over 3000 feet in height. In Colorado, where they have younger, more thrusting mountains, there are the Fourteeners, mountains over 14000 feet. There are 54 of them, and when I was living in Colorado one summer long ago, I met someone who had climbed the lot.

One day he invited me to go and climb Longs Peak with him (14,255 feet). There's no great technical challenge to Longs Peak; it's basically just a very long steep walk with fantastic views. And not quite as much oxygen as you might be used to. Not to mention the over-friendly marmots. You start at around 9,000 feet, but it still takes all day, so getting an early start is essential. There's a book you sign into at the starting point, and we were there well before dawn, but even on a weekday there were fifty people on the mountain ahead of us.

In fact our expedition had been slightly delayed by a transatlantic misunderstanding. I was living in an apartment block in Boulder that summer, and I'd told my friend that the apartment was on the first floor, meaning one floor above ground level, as is the British usage. But in the US, the first floor is the one at ground level, and I was in fact on the second floor. So my friend had spent a while poking around at ground level in the pre-dawn darkness trying to find the right door.

So to avoid causing any misunderstanding to American readers, I should explain that when my wife and I were first married, some years after I climbed Longs Peak, we lived in an apartment which in British English was on the second floor, but in American English was on the third. There was no lift, and the stairs wound upwards, giving you a fine view over neighbouring bits of Cambridge.

Often when we arrived home at this apartment, we noticed a particular phenomenon, which we christened the getting-out-of-the-car-monster. We would get home with a carload of shopping, turn off the engine, and...just sit there for a bit, perhaps talking, perhaps just enjoying the peace and quiet. There was a definite reluctance to actually get out of the car and face the prospect of heaving our bags of shopping all the way up the stairs. We attributed this to the getting-out-of-the-car-monster, which had noticed our arrival, and even now was lurking behind a nearby bush, ready to attack as soon as we foolishly opened the car doors. So we had better just sit there comfortably for a while until he got bored and went away. Eventually, of course, we would muster the energy to get out of the car, grab the shopping, and trudge over to the building entrance and up all those stairs.

A few years after that, we moved to our present house, where we can park just outside the front door, and the getting-out-of-the-car-monster disappeared from our lives.

Runners, however...well, some runners, anyway...well, runners like myself, at least, have a similar challenge to face on early morning runs: the getting-out-of-the-house monster. There he is, lurking just outside, waiting for any unsuspecting runner who ventures out at such a ridiculous hour. Much better to stay indoors. Preferably in bed.

There are various ways of dealing with the getting-out-of-the-house monster. The two I'm currently using are, firstly having a morning routine which involves getting up at the same time whether or not I'm going running, and secondly, sleeping in my running gear. And it's working reasonably well so far. Of course, I have extra motivation to get up early on non-running days, because it's a vital opportunity to deal with certain dull but necessary domestic tasks while the children are still asleep. And on running days, it definitely helps to get in the mood if I wake up already wearing my running gear. Though not the shoes, obviously. My wife would probably object to that.

So if you're planning to go running first thing in the morning, be aware of the getting-out-of-the-house-monster, and develop strategies to deal with him. Because once you actually get out there, and are striding along breathing in lungfuls of the invigorating (and, today, surprisingly chilly) morning air, then the getting-out-of-the-house-monster will vanish away like the phantasm that he is.


Blogger Downhillnut said...

That monster's been lurking around my place lately, mostly in the mornings. Darn it if my evenings have been packed with non-running events too!

I find that if I get in the car in my running clothes and drive down to the river pathway on a weekend? he doesn't follow so much :)

02 June, 2006 15:39  

Post a Comment

<< Home