Play Time!

Play Time!

Posted by Brent Runzel - Race Director of Windmill Challenge and Big Timber XC Challenge on May 22nd 2021

It is 4:45am and my wife is sleeping soundly as I slip out of bed and into my running gear. The eastern sky is just beginning to brighten as I back the car out of the driveway to head to a nearby park or forest preserve for a short run before having to be at work by 8:00. Some people will say I must be crazy to be up and going for a run so early, but, for me, I consider this to be my “play time.”  Why is it “play time”? Because of the abundance of intrinsic rewards and personal satisfaction that come from these short, sunrise runs.

The temperature is cool and the air is fresh, unlike what it would be if I waited until after work to run. There is an abundance of wildlife to be seen earlier in the morning, as I consistently encounter whitetail deer, red foxes, mossy turtles, small coyotes, and an array of birds (including redhead sandhill cranes, blue herons and majestic redtail hawks). There is even an odd yet strengthening spirit within me knowing that I am the first person to be in the park or preserve on this day, a feeling of everything within it is mine to discover.

I also find that I have been running at a faster pace during these early-hour jaunts, almost as if I am trying to cover as much ground as I can within the limited time I have. I’ve kind of come to thinking of these morning runs during the week as my “speed” workouts (as if this old guy can have any kind of speed workout), and my weekend runs are my longer “distance days” at a slower pace.

Finally, I can’t tell you how many spectacular sunrises I have seen over the last several weeks – I’ve provided a photo of one of these sunrises to Glen which I hope he has included within this newsletter. Glorious shades of orange, yellow, crimson and pink spread out against a crystal blue sky. Beams of sunlight pierce down through clouds and between the trees in an awe-inspiring cascade. There has even been a low-hanging ground fog on some recent mornings that make it seem like I’m running in a dream.

All of these natural phenomena combine to make my “play time” special, regardless of the early-morning hour, length of run or running time. And I can carry the spirit of this “play time” with me throughout the day, a ready defense for whatever challenges or obstacles that may come up later in the day. After all, it is MOMENTS that take us through DAYS.

So tomorrow, get up with the sun and go enjoy some “play time.” Yeah, it will cost you an hour of sleep, but I’m sure you’ll find the value of the run to be worth it.