The Predawn Runner Code

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Misty Morning Run

Photo Credit: MistyMorningJog by Flickr User Neil McIntosh, used under a Creative Commons license

Many of the readers of this blog share common traits – we are committed to be better runners while at the same time fulfilling our other (often hefty) obligations as well as possible. If that description doesn’t fit you, you are more than welcome to stay – after all, I strive to provide tips useful to anyone who runs, for whatever reason.  But I seek to inspire, and am in turn inspired most by, those who wonder, “how can I fit this all in?”.

It is in this vein that I offer up this Predawn Runner Code, capturing a set of values that can help to center our perspective on our passion.  To have a meaningful code, it is first necessary to have a mission that centers our objective.  The mission statement is:

Our goal is to be the best runners we can, while being no less of whatever else we must be.

I make no effort to define what “best” means – that is up to the individual. And this doesn’t commit us to being “better” than we already are at meeting our other commitments. While running will build our character and make us better people, implementing improvements in other areas of our life is beyond the scope of is blog.

With this mission in mind, here are the principles that guide the behavior of the predawn runner.

1.  Running is our passion, but family and career takes precedent in all cases.  We will exercise creativity to pursue our hobby, but not at the expense of our more important commitments.  This includes consideration for family in regards to our racing schedule, and offering support to our partners and family in pursuing their own interests.

2.  Running is an elegantly simple sport, and we will strive not to make it too complex.  There isn’t a perfect shoe, a perfect workout, a perfect race – but there are plenty of good ones, and we will take satisfaction in “good enough” without obsessing over perfection.

3.  We believe in specificity of training, and will strive to maximize mileage.  To the extent our bodies can handle it, we will run as many miles as our other commitments will permit.  Cross-training, strength training, and mobility work will be done to the extent it keeps us healthy and makes us better runners. Workouts will be structured to meet specific short- and long-term objectives, and not just to “look good.”  We train to race well, not to post big numbers.

4.  There is no such thing as not enough time.  We will wake up as early as needed to meet our training goals, so long as we maintain our patience and focus through the remainder of the day and so long as it doesn’t impact our running performance.

5.  Safety is paramount on the roads.  We will wear appropriate lighting and reflective gear, carry or wear appropriate ID and communication tools, and take conscious efforts to avoid traffic hazards.

6.  We will candidly learn from our errors, with good humor.  Setbacks are to be expected, appreciated, and serve as a source of learning, and will make us better in the long run.

7.  We maintain a long-term perspective on our running, and recognize that the investments we make today will pay off, even if it takes years.  The running “career” can last our whole lives, and while we will eventually peak, we will take satisfaction in performing our best relative to our situation in life, and in knowing that this performance can be better than many would believe.

8.  We will learn from the lessons of others and share our own experiences broadly.  Our success relative to our “competitors” will come from our own gains, not from their failures.  Every runner has valuable experiences to share, and we’ll share our own such experiences with humility and honesty.  There is no “one best way” to run, be it in selecting goals or choosing and executing training plans.

9.  We will avoid pursuing trends or jumping on bandwagons, instead letting experience and smart science drive our approaches to training. The Internet is filled with junk advice about running, as all too often our “offline” networks are.  It is only the information from credible sources, that fits our objectives and style, that we will consider in creating and modifying our goals and plans.

10.  We will cherish the “bad” workouts and races.  Every bit of experience matters, and only having the occasional bad outing can remind us not to take the good ones for granted.

At it’s root, the Predawn Runner Code isn’t about getting up and out early each and every day. It’s about using whatever means are possible to find how to make running work for us.  It’s about appreciating the simplicity of the sport, knowing when to push ourselves and when to recover, and anticipating a successful future by making continual investments for our long term fitness and knowledge base.

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  • Karen F

    Fantastic post! I really needed that quote and that code. As a homeschooling mom of 6 and nana of 2, there are many, many directions in which I am pulled. I am trying to become a Pre Dawn runner, or at least an earlier in the morning, runner. Thanks, Greg, for this perfectly timed post!

  • Greg Strosaker

    Thanks Karen – trying to fit your training in with 6 children certainly gains my admiration – good luck!

  • Doug @ RockCreekRunner

    Great code. I especially love #2, “Running is an elegantly simple sport, and we will strive not to make it too complex.”

    I often find myself caught up in all these gadgets and training techniques that I feel like I need to be a better runner. Running is simple, we should keep it that way.

  • Greg Strosaker

    Thanks Doug, I get sucked in to complicated workouts, debates over shoe selections, and the like all too easily as well – even when writing here on the blog. I wrote that point to be a reminder to myself to keep things simple and pure here on the blog to the maximum extent possible.

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