First things first: I am not a morning person and probably never will be. I am also a total night owl so I do not have an early bed time. When that dreaded alarm goes off, my body is all like ‘No. Just No.’ And by the time my mind remembers that I totally wouldn’t hate running a marathon or rocking a crazy pack of abs, I have already hit snooze four too many times. In fact, I love nothing more than snuggling into my comforter and reveling in the pure, simple joy of sleep. Before we bought our house and moved to the other side of the world, I would normally do an afternoon run after work. I felt like I had more energy and obviously have had all day to wake up. My husband also leaves the house super early for work so morning workouts were out of the picture. But since the move, it has been challenging to go on a run or hit the gym after work. I found myself skipping my workouts because lack of time, commute or just things getting in the way.
But life’s responsibilities have made me take steps to change my ways. I decided to give morning sessions another shot. In order for me to get a run in and my husband to leave by 6:00 am, I get up when my alarm goes off at 5:00 am. Yes, 5:00 am!
When I first started getting up early it was NOT easy. However, I began reminding myself I actually love the early hours of the day. There is something special about the crisp air, the softness of morning light, and the quiet hush before the day really gets rolling. Once I hit the pavement and the juices start flowing, I don’t even realize it is super early. My WOD is done and now I have plenty of time to get ready for the day (or at least while my son sleeps).
On my path toward “Morning Personhood”, I began adopting some simple practices that make getting up and out of bed a little less miserable. And the good news is they’re all straightforward enough for even the grumpiest morning monster—like myself—to follow.
Pack Your Gym Bag The Night Before
Pack everything so you don’t forget the next morning when you’re head is still groggy. If you are taking an early morning spin class or hitting the weights at the gym, being prepared is key. I will usually do a early workout Friday’s before work so having all my toiletries and work attire packed and ready to go is important to get out of the house on time.
Here is what I pack to the gym:
Keep the Alarm Away From Your Bed
Pick up your alarm clock/phone and put it somewhere else in the room so that you physically have to get out of bed to turn it off. When it goes off, get up, turn it off and just keep walking right out of the room. Don’t even look back at your bed! I used to have an alarm clock that would purposely vibrate off my nightstand, then shake and roll all over the floor so I had to chase it to shut it off! For me, the hardest part is that initial physical act of getting my body out of bed. It’s all downhill from there!
Give Yourself a Pep Talk
If I am really having one of those lazy mornings, I give myself a five minute pep talk. “Ok, Brittany… It’s just 20 minutes, You can do this,” or, “You can sleep when you’re dead” usually works too. It depends on my mood! Essentially, you have to convince yourself that you’re pumped for your workout—even if you’re 100 percent lying.
Since working out on an empty stomach isn’t great for your metabolism or your energy levels, pre-make a little morning snack and keep it in the fridge so you can quickly grab and go. Half a slice of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, apple slices with cheese or ingredients for a small smoothie are the perfect pre-workout snack. If eating before a workout is not an option, make sure you fill up on a nutritious dinner the night before.
Don’t Just Play the Mental Battle, Fight the Mental Battle
Your mind plays games with you saying you can skip this one time or go running after work today. Even if its the middle of summer or dead of winter, weather will always play a factor in your workout. And when it happens, you have to be ready to fight back! When I start thinking anything other than, “get your clothes on and get out the door”, I remind myself of how much better my day always is when I run first. How good it makes me feel afterwards and how much I always regret it if I don’t is a battle I hate fighting. I mean really if I went back to bed I would only get another 45 minutes and that’s totally not better than a run in the end. Plus once you’re up, remind yourself that you have already taken the hardest step – don’t go backwards by going back to bed. Give yourself a pat on the back and get out the door!
Make it a Habit
Life is about habits, both big and small. As I brush my teeth, I ask myself: What will I gain from staying awake instead of going back to bed? The answer is always ‘a lot,’ because a couple extra hours of uninterrupted time is enormous, whether it’s spent at a desk or in the gym. Since I usually take my black lab with me on my morning runs, his first instinct when my alarm goes off is to run and grab his leash and lick my face until I get up. The only thing going through his head is ‘Time to Run’. He is definitely another alarm clock for me in the mornings.
You Will Have More Energy
By exercising in the morning, you will find that your energy levels are much higher throughout the day. It is very difficult to motivate yourself to exercise in the evening, especially if you have had a busy, stressful day at work. Your instinct will be to collapse on the sofa and sadly that horizontal position is usually accompanied by food or drink that isn’t ideal for your health. By working out in the morning, you will have more energy throughout the day and you won’t be as affected by stressful events in your working day.
Think of what you’d like your morning to be about and then craft your a.m. ritual around that idea. Indulge in something that makes you happy. Whether this means taking a nice hot shower, eating a big breakfast or drinking coffee on the patio, Do It! You’ll get through your workout a little faster knowing there’s a hot cup of coffee and sprinkle donuts waiting for you. If you start actually experiencing your mornings as a time where you get to enjoy some of the things you love most, you might just look forward to waking up.
When it comes down to getting in those early morning work outs, it’s just about preparing ahead of time and being bigger than the voices telling you not to do it. Do I still fight the urge to hit snooze when my alarm goes off at 5am? Sure, but I also can’t imagine going back to exercising at night. Switching things to the morning means I rarely miss a session, and I fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly than I used to. Plus, there’s nothing like running as the sun comes up over our neighborhood. The streets are quiet, the air is still fresh, and when I’ve put in my miles before 8 a.m., the day feels full of possibility. Hello Happy Hour! 🙂
Do you have any other tips that get you going in the morning for a workout?