Sunrise Cycle

Sunrise Cycle
Challenge Sophie
Challenge Sophie

After writing this post about falling off the wagon, I then became ill for a week. By Monday of the following week I had recovered but was still tired. Finding myself struggling with low energy levels, there was no need to second guess why this might be. I know my body well enough to know that exercise gives me energy. When I'm not exercising, I'm not giving my body and mind what they need to feel great and there's only one cure!

On Tuesday I was ready to get back on the wagon. Not one to do things by halves, I decided a 50kms bike ride at 5am was the best way to launch me back into the game.

I set my alarm for 5am and was actually really excited to get up (one reason why taking a break is a good thing). I had already debated about my layering system, laid out all my kit, pumped my tyres and filled my water bottles the night before. I was out the door by 5:20am, happy to be on my bike and excited see what the morning had in store.

Boy was I in for a treat! 

Challenge Sophie, Sophie Radcliffe
Challenge Sophie, Sophie Radcliffe

Training in the winter can be tough. It can feel so alien to get out of bed when you're all warm and cosy and head outside into the dark. Some days, getting up early to train can mean we are privy to incredible scenery, sunrises or conversations with training buddies that we would have missed out on had we stayed in bed. This was one of those days.

First light appearing as I crossed the River Thames
First light appearing as I crossed the River Thames

Living in London, means making the most of a pre-work bike ride can be tough as you have to cycle a fair distance to find open roads. My usual option is to head from East London to Richmond Park in South West London. I cycle along the River Thames and cross over at Putney. When I got to Putney, I could feel the temperature drop. This was going to be a chilly morning.

Cycle from East to Richmond Park
Cycle from East to Richmond Park

I arrived at Richmond Park at 6:20am and the gates were closed. It was still pitch black dark. I thought "you eager beaver!" However, I was happy to be out and went in search for an open entrance. I found out they were culling the deer so the side gates that are normally open were closed for a few weeks.

Gates of Richmond Park
Gates of Richmond Park
Admiring the view, desperately wanting to be let in
Admiring the view, desperately wanting to be let in
Desperately wanting to be let in
Desperately wanting to be let in

At 7am when I was just about to head back home, someone pulled up and let me in. I was the first person into the park and even though I had been admiring it from behind the gates, actually stepping into what felt like a magical wonderland took my breath away.

Richmond Park
Richmond Park
Challenge Sophie in Richmond Park
Challenge Sophie in Richmond Park

It was stunning!

The mist, the colours, the deer, the crispness of the morning. I felt like the world was opening up around me, waking up and showing me what it had to offer. Perhaps the photos describe the beauty better than any words I could write.

Sunrise cycle
Sunrise cycle
Exploring
Exploring

I must admit, I didn't make it the whole way round the park because I was admiring the views. But that's ok too, right?!

I've always loved Richmond Park, it feels like a Londoner's wilderness paradise. It's a chance to escape the traffic and rush of the city. However, if you go cycling there on a weekend, there are hundreds of cyclists. That's why I like to get up early and make the most of it being so quiet.

Mornings like this feed my soul.

A photographer making the most of the light
A photographer making the most of the light
Hello London
Hello London

My hands and feet went numb, but I didn't mind. The clock was ticking, I knew I had to get back to East London. I needed to be at work by 9, yet I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay there and watch this very small part of the world change as the sun continued to rise. I wanted to keep drinking it in and cycling though the cold morning air.  "It's ok though" I thought to myself, "I can come back, everyday if I want to."

I was home by 8:10am allocating myself 20 minutes for breakfast, shower, change.

Challenge Sophie
Challenge Sophie

I was in work by 9am with a big smile on my face. I felt a million times better than previous days. All day, I enjoyed that dull ache in my legs from the workout, I had missed that feeling. I had a great day and set up a meeting that could change the game of the company I'm working with. I felt awake and ready to make stuff happen.

Challenge Sophie at work
Challenge Sophie at work

The hours of sleep I gave up for the bike ride were not a sacrifice, it was an honour to be alive and be part of that morning.

I know not all morning sessions will be like this, but it's ones like this that make all the others worthwhile. I'd love to hear about your morning workouts, what you love and hate about them! :)