Today’s article on running in the morning was written by guest author Dan Chabert. If you’d like to get in touch with Dan please check out his contact info at the end of the article.
Many people – myself included – often have the best of intentions to start their day with a workout. The day soon gets away from them, so they think that they’ll work-out after work. When that doesn’t happen they say they’ll work-out after dinner. When that doesn’t happen they say they’ll just do something short and sweet before bed, at home. And when that doesn’t happen they relegate themselves to the couch, binging on Netflix and ice cream, and feeling bad about themselves. Sound familiar?
Without a doubt, we’re all busy people. I don’t know a single person who has so much free time on his or her hands that he or she complains about regularly being bored. With work, parenting, family obligations, school, and whatever other life commitment that pops up, many of us may feel like we don’t have the time or the opportunity to properly take care of ourselves. Whether it’s eating right and exercising regularly it’s not so much a matter of willpower as it is a matter of time management. If only I had a 25th hour, we say…
I’ve read studies that suggest that people’s willpower is at its highest levels in the morning, which means for many people that the likelihood of them making positive, healthy decisions – such as exercising – is more apt to happen earlier, rather than later, in the day. I’m one of those people. Experience has taught me again and again that if I don’t figure out a way to get my run in in the a.m. hours, it’s safe to assume that it’s not going to happen at all.
I’m guest posting on Former Fitness Flunky today because I want to share with you some of my best practices for developing a morning fitness routine. I’ll couch my suggestions specific to running, but the same principles hold true for any fitness routine you can complete. Running in the morning is completely doable, but it takes not only the ambition and drive to stick with it day after day but also a hefty amount of deliberate planning. Before you quickly dismiss me and claim that you’re not a morning exerciser and will never be one, I implore you: try it! You may find that exercising most mornings becomes the difference between you entering into a regular fitness routine and you continuing to falter and planning to start “next Monday.” Hear me out, and give running in the morning a chance.
Before You Go to Sleep at Night
Set multiple (and I mean multiple!) alarms.
My experiences have taught me the value in setting many alarms to ensure that I wake-up to run in the early morning hours, and this was especially true for me when I was in the process of developing my habit for the first time. If you’re going to be waking-up much earlier than you usually do, setting more than one alarm – at least initially – will be wise. It goes without saying, but unless you’re working third shift, set your alarms for the A.M. hours, not P.M. (You’d think that’d be obvious, but alas…).
Prepare all your gear.
It can be a nuisance to take the time before you go to bed to lay-out all your workout attire (such as your shoes, watch, clothes, and the like), but before you start to complain about this tedious extra step, think of it in different terms. If spending 10 minutes at night putting out your clothes ensures that you can sleep for at least 20 extra minutes in the morning – and save you extra time fumbling around your house looking for an errant sock – is it worth it? (Unequivocally, yes!).
You could even literally sleep in your workout attire if you wanted. Even consider setting timers on your coffeemaker, so it goes off when you’ll be getting up in the morning (or shortly beforehand), and prepare your pre- and post-workout food so when you get up and get going, you’ll be ready to get moving straightaway. You’ll find that you’ll be able to streamline your morning process, thanks to lots of trial and error, the more you do it. Don’t get discouraged if you miss something the first time around.
Just go to bed.
Social media is great for a lot of things, but it’s definitely not great for helping us fall asleep at night. If I’m not careful – and maybe this is the same for you – “just checking” my social media channels before bed usually sucks a good 45+ minutes of sleep away from me because I get lured into watching videos that I don’t need to watch or taking silly quizzes that I don’t need to take. When you’re going to be waking-up early in the morning to run, you need to do everything in your power to ensure that you’re getting adequate amounts of sleep each night, and perusing social media does not help.
You might even want to consider setting hard-and-fast boundaries for yourself for technology usage in bed, such as limiting yourself to a set amount of time or cutting yourself off from it entirely. After a while, once you get used to waking up early to run/exercise, you’ll likely find that when you get into bed each night, you actually want to go to sleep, anyway. Plus, when you’re first getting started, consider getting into bed a little earlier than normal each night, even if it’s only a 20- or 30-minute difference. Sleep is critical for all of us, but it’s especially important for early risers. Don’t shortchange yourself!
The Morning Of
Initially, it will probably stink. Expect it.
Unless you are a naturally early riser, those first few early wake-up calls will probably be rough, and you’ll probably question your motivation, if not also your sanity, for waking up early to run. My experiences have taught me that it’s easier to just accept and acknowledge that those first few times will probably be mildly horrible; once you accept it and even anticipate it, it’s really not so bad. This adjustment period takes time to get accustomed to, but once you are, you’ll probably find that getting up early just becomes part of your routine, something that you do without question.
Anytime we do something different from how we usually do things, there’s typically a learning curve involved, and once we figure things out, it’s not so bad after all. Give yourself a chance here, and I implore you: don’t be so quick to write off early morning workouts based on your first few experiences (especially if it means the difference between you working out and not working out at all). When your alarms start to buzz, cue your inner Bob Marley and get up and stand up;it’s that easy. Exercising in the morning is a tremendous way to wake-up, and you’ll probably find that it puts you in a great mood for the rest of the day, too.
Research the weather, if necessary, but nothing else.
Like I mentioned before, social media is a killer time-suck, and if you “just check” your social media channels in the morning, before you exercise, you may lose your opportunity to run altogether. If anything, if applicable, check the weather so you ensure that you’re dressed appropriately for the elements outside, but that’s it. Don’t let the internet sabotage your workout opportunity; unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience on this one. Your email, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, blog – whatever – can all wait until you return.
Make it a group effort for (more) fun and safety.
When you’re an early morning runner, you might find that you feel more motivated to get up and get out there when your friend is doing the same – and is waiting on you to show up. Plus, you may also find that you feel safer if you’re hitting the roads with someone else, whether it’s your best friend or your furry, four-legged friend. If you go out with someone else, you’ll probably find that the time flies by, and it’ll help you get your day off to a great start.
Be as safe as possible.
Last but certainly not least, when you are exercising in the pre-dawn hours outside, it is critical that you ensure your own personal safety because your life could be on the line, as over-dramatic as that may sound. Invest in some safety accouterments to help make yourself be visible to others when it’s dark outside – such as apparel with reflective elements, a reflective vest, a headlamp, knuckle lights, and some sort of personal identification (like a RoadID) – so that other pedestrians and motorists can see you from afar.
Running with a buddy (person or canine) can help with safety, as well, but be sure to also use common sense. Don’t run somewhere in the dark that you haven’t run in the daytime before, and trust your instincts. Consider, also, running with your phone and without listening to music. Lastly, while black is incredibly slimming, don’t wear all black on your morning runs because you’ll be hard to see.
Before you write yourself off as not being a “morning runner” or exerciser, give running in the morning a try for a while. You can literally help yourself plan for success by doing a fair bit of planning in order to make morning exercise a habit. The longer you keep at it and give it a try, the more opportunities you’ll find that you can streamline, distractions that you can eliminate, and processes that you can strengthen. In time, I bet you’ll even come to enjoy your early-morning workouts/runs and look forward to them … and wonder what took you so long to try it in the first place.
See you out there, fellow sunrise chaser.
Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.