Getting up before dawn to do anything is hard, but some of us do it on the regular. Why? Michelle makes a case for the early morning run.
A horrible beeping noise cuts into an otherwise deep and peaceful sleep. Opening heavy tired eyes, you fumble with the alarm. 4.00am shines brightly at you. Why are you getting up in the middle of the night? Why are you getting up hours earlier than a normal day?
The great outdoors, that feeling of greeting the dawn, it’s unbeatable!
Drag yourself out of bed in the cold dark and get some hot breakfast. Driving this early the only people you see are shift workers and last night’s partiers heading home. As you arrive at the car park, it’s empty. The pre-dawn still and quiet is all around as you warm up to head off. Today’s trail, a small mountain, looms like a shadowy giant in the darkness.
Hitting the trail it’s dark — not quite pitch black — more a flat dark grey where all the features blend together. Red pack dirt track changes to loose rock and gravel. The sky begins to lighten, taking on a dark navy colour. The crunch of shoes on bare earth echoes off the hills. Just you and the kangaroos are moving this early in the morning. In the dim light, focus is the key. Balance and eye to foot coordination consume your mind. Your body warms up, your mind begins to clear. Making your way through the countryside, you pass bushes with sleeping flowers, not yet open.
Pushing into the steeper uphill climb, the birds begin to sing. This signals the coming of the dawn. The stillness all about will soon be taken over, replaced with the sounds and smells of the earth waking up. You scramble over boulders and tree roots. Pushing to get to the top before dawn — now racing the sun.
As you crest the summit the panromantic view and epic scenery that lays before you. The sun peeks over the clouds and the whole area lights up, bathing everything in a golden hue. Light bounces off trees, rocks and bushes.
This is the reason. This is why you fell out of bed at 4.00am. Standing here, feelings of solitude and tranquillity wash over you. Witnessing Mother Nature’s wonderful display. Nothing between you and the wild.
You turn towards the descent, it’s even more complicated than the route up. With forward momentum and freedom singing in your soul you leap small streams and trail gaps. Fly downsloping boulders.
A moment’s lapse in concentration could end with a headfirst tumble. Staying light and nimble, trusting your feet to catch you, pushing your body and mind with uneven ground and changing terrain. This is where you go up against nature, keeping balance and focus. The variability of trail running offers a unique challenge.
With the steeper slope now falling behind, the open flatter ground lets you really kick things up a gear. Push harder, go for that personal best. You weave through the scrubland, over duck-boards and jumping hollows. Scaring a few bunnies causes a chain reaction – birds take flight and disgruntled kangaroos hop a few feet.
The sun’s lighting up the sky and the world is fully awake. The air is filling with morning dew and the smell of eucalyptus. This is living. This is where you feel stress leave, replaced by bliss!
There’s a deep connection between you and the earth you’re running on.
Your legs start to burn, the final push is ahead. Lengthening your steps to get the bigger rocks, you try to keep the pace up. You need that effort to get up and over the last rock section. The end is in sight. Can you make it? Keep the focus, your heavy legs need extra movement. Get them higher, don’t miss the step.
You return to the car as others start to turn up, unaware of what they’ve missed. Smiling, you cool down and take in the world, knowing that it was all worth it. Your own private test with the wilderness, with yourself.
It doesn’t matter who won. You know you’ll be back next week to go get lost in the wild and do it all again – it’s never the same twice.