Scared of My Own Shadow

Me and My Shadow

Me and My Shadow

Miles run yesterday: 10

New pair of running shoes bought yesterday (post-run): 1

Time I wake up to run three times a week (Saturdays, we run later): 5:15

Two things I will tell you about running at 5:15 a.m.:

1. It’s cold.

2. It’s dark. After Daylight Savings Time started, super-dark.

Always a staunch supporter of Daylight Savings Time, I am now a hater. Well, a disliker.

Of course, I’ve done training before in the early morning. I trained for my very first half-marathon several years ago with 5:15 a.m. runs, back when my husband left early for work, and my kids were tiny. My husband ran after work, and I got the before-work slot.

That time around, it was a June-December training cycle, and early morning was definitely the way to go to avoid ghastly 98-degree heat.

But this time, did I mention that it’s dark and cold?

And sometimes, I’ll be running along, doo-de-doo-de-doo… minding my own business, and I pass under a pinky-white streetlight in my neighborhood… Psssst! Darkness! ย No more light. Poof!

It’s unnerving.

Here are the people awake when I am:

1. Tired parents of middle and high school students who attend school far away. They sit in their cars with the headlights on and the engines running until the bus squeals to a stop along the main thoroughfare.

2. Tired but devoted dog-walkers.

3. People still in their pajama pants who have thrown on a fleece sweatshirt and just started sleep-walking down the street. They do not wave.

4. The occasional runner wearing a bobbing, laser-pointer light thingie.

5. Me.

Perks to running at 5:15 a.m.:

1. I never have a problem crossing a street. Never. Not once.

2. I don’t have to wear sunscreen.

3. I don’t have to breathe in car fumes, extending my lung life by .6 years.

4. I don’t have to worry that my shirt isn’t tucked in right or if my hair is sticking out.

5. Like so many people in America, I might have been sleeping way, way too much. There is no worry about that now. No sirree.

So anyway, one day in my first week of running in the middle of the night, I was rounding a corner near my favorite grocery store. The stoplights in the intersection behind me were flashing from red to green. I was on fire. Well… I was plodding along.

When BOOM! A large shadow loomed out of the towering bushes in front of me.


Heart palpitations, sucking in of breath, fear.

Yeah. You may have guessed:

It was my own shadow, looming towards… myself.

Boy, did I feel stupid. And it brings to mind so many existential, high-brow questions…

Am I afraid of myself?

Do I have anything to fear but fear itself?

Why am I out running at 5:15 when most God-fearing people are tucked up in bed?

If I run a 9-minute mile from here to home, what time will I eat breakfast?


I have learned so many things about myself from my early morning runs. So many important, life-altering things.

Mostly: I like warm weather. And light.

And also: I still love and need to run.

What about you? When you’ve made a major life transition, what have you learned about ย yourself?


25 thoughts on “Scared of My Own Shadow

  1. Amy Mak says:

    I can so relate to this post. I never want to get up at that hour, yet always exhilerated I did, after. I also recall a time last year when I scared myself with my own shadow. I shrieked loudly and scared my poor running partner to death. Good job – and good luck – your miles indicate a race coming up????

  2. Since I retired I have become something of an expert on travel. I have learned I do not particularly like cruises, the world is generally a safe place regardless of what is reported in the media, and I have to pack my own hot sauce. That last item might sound silly, but you would be surprised to discover how bland the food is in many countries.
    BTW – it is nice to see you still have time to blog as well as jog. – Mike

  3. Joyce says:

    Love! You know I cracked up at the shadow. I’ve done that a time or two – or 100 times myself. But in the daylight. And in my own home. Alone.
    I recall once entering a bank and seeing some guy come in from the cold who reached into his jacket to pull out – I was 100 percent sure – a gun. Nope. A wallet. At a bank. Go figure. (Guns and wallets can be easily confused. Right?)
    Glad I was able to play off my heart palpitations and crazy-mode panic gasp into an exasperated, loud and quite audible… AH-CHOOO. Yessiree. You never know when a pollen-induced sneeze will make an appearance. In December. In the middle of a bank lobby. Those pesky bees!
    Didn’t make a fool out of myself as I quick-checked the door at all…… Nope. Not me. Not ever.

    And I still think you are absolutely C-R-A-Z-Y to get up at 5:15, to run – in the COLD – and, because it’s worth repeating how crazy it is, to get up – at 5:15 – in the morning to RUN!
    Have a wonderful week, my friend.

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    I get up at 5:45 am to exercise so I share your misery over the early hour. But unlike you, I work out in the safety (and warmth) of my own home. Stay safe out there! I hope you’re wearing lots of reflective gear. And watch out for your own shadow. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hope the job is going well.

  5. I applaud your drive to actually move fast …okay faster than me at 5:15 AM. About the time you finish your third mile, I’m standing at the train station. I just cannot bring myself to get up any earlier on a work day.

    And to make you feel a little better about the temp you run in, yesterday morning, it was -5 degrees F in my back yard. See, you’re feeling warmer already. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. jmmcdowell says:

    My main workouts are also at home in the morning, when it can still be dark. But I’m nervous walking outside in the dark, even when I’m with my husband because I don’t trust drivers to be paying attention! They’ll turn on top of pedestrians even when there’s plenty of daylight. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    I guess my biggest transition was moving from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic. I learned I could adjust to a major metropolitan area far more easily than I ever thought possible.

    • annewoodman says:

      JM, one of the big-time runners I know (who would run like 8 miles in the morning, then come home and run 8 miles in the evening after work) got hit by the back of a work truck last year, and it shattered her shin, ankle, etc. She was in a world of pain and had massive PT afterwards. It was very sobering. I don’t trust drivers to pay attention, either. Be careful out there, even with your husband!

  7. robincoyle says:

    You mean I am supposed to exercise?

  8. Being woken up in the middle of the night to “check out a noise” taught me a lot about myself. For one, it made me realize that my supply of bravery is in direct inverse proportion to my supply of sleepiness.

    I was alarmed by EVERYTHING.

  9. 4amWriter says:

    For sure, I always need to write when I’m feeling the most disturbed or uprooted in Life. Writing calms and centers me–plus I don’t have to worry about lurking shadows when I’m writing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. I have in the past had periods of time where I have woken up at those unearthly hours to exercise, but haven’t done for a while, I like my bed too much! I get up at 6.30am during the week which is plenty early enough. I admire your dedication…

  11. I’m up at 5 am everyday for school. This major transition in life has taught me that a) buttercream rules, b) sprinkles are way awesome, and c) doing scary stuff is the bomb.

    Also, I don’t run.

    Unless being chased.

  12. Christi says:

    Your shadow monster story reminds me of walking through the forest at night when I was a camp counselor years ago. I always, always thought I could hear something moving (when it was generally me). I managed to hide these fears when campers were around, but all the staff knew I had an unnatural fear of the dark — and they teased me endlessly. I miss the gloriousness of Girl Scout camp…

  13. Sharon says:

    Love this post! Especially the part about the devoted dog walkers and the sleepwalkers in pajama pants with a fleece–put those two together and you have me ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing this and stay safe (and warm) out there!

  14. Nice post! I’m scared of my ever changing opinions/choices. They never stay the same. One minute I want this, and then the next minute I want something else. Right now I want to wake up at 5 in the morning and go for a run. Hopefully not being scared by my shadow.

  15. Ravena Guron says:

    I’m not good at getting up early, though once I’m awake, I’m awake! Things do seem a lot more fun in the morning though… it’s sort of peaceful and you feel like you’re the only one around. (Is it just me who likes that sort of thing?) Great post!

  16. Loved this, Anne. I am always intrigued by people that can run so early in the morning! I hope you are getting on well with your new job – I get the feeling it’s keeping you busy. I’ve been travelling for a month now, just recently back and catching up with my favourite bloggers. Had an amazing time, and now it seems I’ve returned to Spring in the UK, which is a bonus. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Martha Merrill Wills says:

    I scare far too easily. And I have, more than once, scared myself on a dark run. The last time I remember an early morning Raleigh run I happened upon a family of deer. That was sort of amazing, but the rest of the time I was freaked out.

  18. One of my favorite bloggers is gone for good it seems.


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