I wouldn’t say I’m not a morning person (I don’t have rules that require no one speak to me before 9 am like, ahem, my husband), but I’m not one to jump right out of bed at the break of dawn either. In an ideal world my inner night-owl would be allowed to reign free and this whole work concept wouldn’t require me to wake up before 8 am. Unfortunately this isn’t the case and because I love my pillow a little too much, my intentions to run before work are usually dismissed like the snooze button on my alarm. But times, they are changing. . .
Between sweltering hot summer days and pressing deadlines at work, running in the evening felt more like a chore than the bliss brought on by post-workout endorphins. More often than not, I found myself skipping a run in exchange for downtime on the couch. After a couple of days, I felt even less energetic and down on myself for not being committed to running. Determined not to fall into a rut, I decided to try running before work for a period of three weeks. I know the benefits of running before the day starts (beginning the day with exercise is always a good thing), I’ve just never been able to make it a habit. So, I’m giving myself three weeks to create a new habit.
With one week in the books, my alarm clock hasn’t become anymore of a friend than before, but I already see a difference in my outlook on the day after starting with a run. Suddenly my mornings are more productive, I feel more creative (as is always the case after a good run!), and more tolerant of unexpected wrenches that inevitably end up thrown into my daily schedule. I don’t feel the pressure to rush through meetings or solve problem in a hurried manner because I already got my run in. Staying a little late for an extra meeting or cooking a dinner that requires more effort than a baked potato and salad doesn’t feel stressful because I already ran. I don’t feel like I’m cheating myself anymore.
I’m no fool though, I know one week is just the beginning. And my new morning routine gets harder as the days of the week tick by. To combat the inner voice that keeps trying to tell me to sleep in, I’m employing several strategies to put pep in my step, bright and early. Here’s what’s working for me now:
-Recruit a buddy. Reluctantly, my husband agreed to accompany me for my early morning runs. As long as his side of the agreement doesn’t require talking before, during, or after (remember his 9 am rule?), he will join me. I usually prefer solo running, but have found rising earlier than usual is easier with a partner in crime.
-Experiment with fuel. With the self-proclaimed worst stomach on the face of the earth, running in the morning requires university-level lab testing (kidding, not really – any sports nutritionists out there want a free test patient?) to find the right mix of fuel for my AM workouts. I still haven’t mastered this part, but I’m monitoring what works and what doesn’t to find the perfect solution.
-Proper planning. Laying out my clothes, charging my GPS and lining up my iPod take the guesswork out of the preparation for a run. Even though I’m not a grumpy morning person, I’m not exactly in the mood to make decisions straight out of bed. If I have everything ready, I’m less likely to dilly-dally and get right to business.
-Go to bed! Remember that whole night owl thing? It’s still in my nature but I know if I want to wake up early, I have to get enough sleep or running just won’t happen. In order to get enough shut-eye, my husband and I employed a no technology after 8:30 pm rule. Turning off the gadgets allows us to wind down and unplug from the day making it easier to drift off by the time we hit the hay.