Beep beep beep beep.
I roll over and peel my eyes open to see the time of the alarm clock. 4:40. Who in their right mind would set their alarm for this un-godly hour? Didn’t I just go to sleep a few minutes ago? Why am I doing this again? I could just turn the alarm off, roll over, and go back to sleep for another 2 hours. There’s always tomorrow. My body needs more sleep. I’m so warm and comfortable. I can run after work.
So many excuses flood my mind in the 30 seconds or so following my alarm clock. Yet day after day I roll out of bed and 20 minutes later find myself running away the fog and heading that much closer to my running goals for the year. I am back home and showered before most people have even thought about getting out of bed for the morning. With my miles done for the day, I have that much more time to spend with my family and tackle the never-ending lists of home projects which come my way.
If you know anything about me you know that I wasn’t always a morning runner. Sure, I dabbled for a bit a few years ago and often get up early for my weekend long runs, but never in a million years did I imagine I would gladly get up before 5 am on a week day (let alone before 6 am) to put in some miles. Yet here I find myself about two months into this “experiment” going strong and really not having many complaints. So how do I do it?
Five Tips to Becoming a Morning Runner
This one seems obvious, right? We all need a little boost in the morning to get going. Whether you drink coffee, tea, or like me get yours from your energy gel and Run Gum, a little boost goes a long way. Once you get moving and the sun comes up, your energy levels should naturally increase, but if you need the initial push to get you out the door caffeine should do the trick.
Have A Goal
As you know I am trying to run 2016 miles in 2016. Finding time to run so many miles presented a difficult problem with only one clear solution. If I were going to have any chance of reaching this goal (especially with my setbacks this year) while still finding time to spend with my family, the only logical solution was to get up and run before they were awake. Since I need to be to work at 8 am each day and it takes me about an hour to get ready (and then spend 15-20 minutes with the family before I leave), getting up before 5 became the clear solution. Reaching my 2016 goal is a huge motivator for me which helps me resist the temptation to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep.
Ease Into It
4:40 am sounds crazy, right? It is a little bit, and if you told me even two months ago I would be willingly getting up that early each day I would have laughed at you. The truth is, though, that I did not start out getting up that early. Since I started this out running at the gym, and the gym does not open until 5, I started getting up at 5. As my daily mileage slowly started increasing, so did the time I was getting up, mostly in five-minute increments. Now that I am mainly running the roads and look to start at 5, 4:40 is a good time for me..for now. I imagine I may just max out at 4:30…but I am not there yet.
Night Time Prep
Since the biggest challenge I face with my 2016 goal is finding time, making sure I maximize the morning is key. One way to do this has been to shift some of my normal “morning” routines, such as ironing my clothes and making my lunch, to the evening. By taking around 15 minutes each night I am able to get those “chores” out of the way so I can make the best use of my time in the morning and get in as many miles as possible…all while keeping my sanity and getting out the door for work on time. I also make sure to take any running gear I will need and bring it into the bathroom (don’t forget socks, deodorant and some kind of anti-chafe lubricant), as well as lay out my morning “breakfast” of energy gel, glass (for water), and Run Gum.
Make It Routine
Everything is easier once it becomes routine. Your body simply takes over and goes through the motions even if your mind says stay in bed. It does not hurt that you are getting up to do something you love, but love only goes so far when the sun has not risen yet and you just went to sleep less than six hours before. Research shoes it takes anywhere from 21 days to a few months to establish a habit, so just stick with it. Until then, keep the alarm out of reach to force yourself out of bed, and try to remember how good you feel once you are moving through the miles.