As I mentioned at the end of my morning post, I somehow managed to wake up before my 5 a.m. alarm and already be out the door and warming up for a run by the time my alarm would be ringing.
It’s important to realize I am not a morning person. I prefer sleeping to almost anything. My husband would be happy to attest to that fact. So, I was shocked that my 5 a.m. run felt good and my body wasn’t dragging. Watching the sun continue to rise (remember, no daylight savings time in Japan) and realizing I won’t have to muck through the humidity to run later in the day kept me moving.
You can do it, too. Not everyone is interested in waking up early to workout, I know this. But, I think it’s worth trying once or twice to see how your body reacts and when you feel best exercising (the same goes for evening workouts).
The night before:
1. Lay out everything you will need for your workout. Make it even easier on yourself by wearing your workout clothes to bed. The less you need to think about the next morning, the better. If you need any electronics (iPod, GPS, etc.) make sure they are charged and ready to go. Fill your water bottle and stick it in the refrigerator.
I made a pile containing my running shorts, a tank top, sports bra, socks, and my charged Garmin beside my bed. I just slipped everything on when I woke up.
2. Get to bed! You can’t possibly expect yourself to be ready to tackle an early morning workout without sleep. Don’t stay up late if you can avoid it and make sure to set your alarm. If you’re best friends with the snooze button, set the alarm for 10 minutes earlier than you need to be awake.
The morning of:
1. Grab a quick pre-workout snack. Fruit is great and so are smoothies (if you have the time to make themI don’t). The important thing is don’t exercise on an empty stomach. If there’s no fuel available to your body it will metabolize your own muscle for fuel. Now that sounds fun, doesn’t it?
I ate a banana before heading out the door this morning. It was just enough fuel to power my run without sloshing around in my stomach or making me feel sluggish.
SIDE NOTE: I used to wake up and workout on an empty stomach regularly in college, I thought it would burn more fat. I never understood why my runs were so tough and I often felt weak. Duh! Your body needs fuel to do work.
2. Just get moving. Whether you are driving to the gym or hitting the pavement for a rungetting started is 90% of the battle.
SKIP-PROOF YOUR WORKOUT
1. Check the weather the night before. If the weather forecast is calling for a 95% chance of rain and you know you hate working out in the rain, work around it. Take your workout indoors (here’s a good time to utilize your gym membership) or change your workout schedule to reflect the weather.
2. Tell someone. I don’t care if you tell your significant other, your cat, your dog, Twitter friends, Facebook friends, or agree to meet up with a running partner. Hold yourself accountable by letting others know what you plan to do! (See Safety First #3, though, please.)
3. Imagine how you will feel after you complete the workout. Will you be disappointed in yourself if you turn back over in bed and reset your alarm? Do you need a rest day? Will heading out the door now empower you for the rest of the day?
4. Reward yourself. Have a great breakfast planned or ready for after your workout. Indulge in your favorite caffeinated drink. Have a glass of wine with dinner tonight. Whatever reward you choose, pat yourself on the back for being brave enough to roll out of bed and get your day started healthily.
Some iced coffee and overnight oats tasted great after pushing myself for that last run interval.
5. Choose something you enjoy. I like biking okay. Sometimes, it’s even fun. But I know I will not wake up earlier than necessary to go for a bike ride. However, I love running and I’m willing to sacrifice a little sleep for a run.
1. My number one rule: ALWAYS carry a cell phone when you exercise outside alone or with someone you do not know very well. You could get sick or injured and need help or find yourself in immediate danger. Let someone you trust (roommate, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, parent) know your plans and about what time you should be expected to return.
2. Don’t be predictable. This is especially important with outdoor running/biking. Vary your days/routes so others do not learn your routine and know when to expect you and where.
3. Don’t advertise your exact plans. It’s okay to hold yourself accountable to friends by posting on social networking sites. Something along the lines of “Waking up for an early run.” is pretty safe. Don’t be too specific“Running at 5 a.m. at XYZ park” is too specific and so is “Lifting at 7 a.m. at XYZ gym.” These kinds of posts or tweets could put yourself in danger. Err on the side of safetynotice I mentioned a time, but not a place in my Facebook status.
4. Choose well-lit, populated areas when possible. I prefer running at the park, but chose the riverside this morning because it’s less secluded and I knew there would be other people out walking their dogs or jogging if I needed help.
5. Hydrate. In many parts of the world, early morning or not, the temperature is still pretty warm. Keep your body well hydrated by regularly drinking water or sports drinks (depending on the intensity of your workout).
I really enjoyed my run this morning. Even though I lost a little sleep, I felt like I had enough energy for the rest of the day because of the endorphins pumping through my body (oh, and I took a short nap). I plan to continue early morning runs, but will stick with mid-day strength training and yoga (inside).
Plus, I felt like a total badass at 6 a.m. when I had already ran and showered before most people were even awake!