Hiking: The Routine Way to Start the Day

I’d like to say I start every day with a 2- or 3-mile hike. Truth is, that doesn’t happen until I’ve been up 45 minutes. That first three-quarters of an hour is a general muddle that involves getting to the point where I’m able to take a 2- to 3-mile hike: staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, making coffee, reading. Once I’ve slapped myself into consciousness, I head down the block for a hike on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail here in Hillsborough.


Because if I kick my day off any other way it doesn’t go as smoothly. Here’s what the routine of that walk, also 45 minutes, does for me:

  • Gets my juices flowing. Both physically and mentally there are chemically related things going on that rev our bodies. I can’t readily explain them — but our friends at WebMD.com can; read about here. 
  • Gets the day in order. In a previous life, I wrote a daily newspaper column, and I wrote it at 4:30 in the morning, while my mind was blank and before my brain had a chance to get in the way. Same here. Before the clutter sets in, I have a chance to plot the day.
  • Establishes a can-do sense for the rest of the day. Though my ramble is rote, I still take satisfaction in the fact I’ve launched the day with a 45-minute aerobic activity. Even — especially! — on a cold morning, even on a drizzly morning. I’ve walked three miles — what else can I get done?
  • Sets a healthy tone for the day. If I start the day with a brisk hike, I’m more likely to come home and have a breakfast of yogurt and banana, rather than a PopTart two-pack. That trend carries throughout the day. Part of the reason, in my case, is that I’m an anxious eater and if I’ve worked off some of that anxiety on a walk, that’s one less sleeve of Nutter Butters I’m likely to devour.
  • Jumpstarts my energy level. It’s a curious thing that expending energy actually boosts energy. Again, not sure why energy begets energy, but it’s true. Granted, I may end up going to sleep a few minutes earlier by day’s end, but it will be a sound sleep.
  • Sets a positive tone for the day. Based on all of the above, how could it not?

And frankly, heading out first — OK, second — thing is no hardship, especially come summer. Two main reasons:

  • It’s the coolest part of the day. On a day that could top 90 you might start out in the upper 60s.
  • Early morning light. The beauty of which can’t be explained. You simply have to see it for yourself.

That said, the sun rises right now shortly before 6 a.m. Imagine getting a hike in, every morning, before 8.

Try it and you’ll see how easy it is to make a first-thing hike a first-rate routine.

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Hike with us!

Sound appealing but not sure you’ve got the discipline to make it happen on your own, at least not at the start? Then join us on our …

GetHiking! Friday Morning Hike Series. Every Friday morning, starting June 10 through July 29, we hike 3-4 miles starting at 8 a.m. at a different location in the Triangle. Learn more and sign up to join us here.


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