I’m a morning runner by temperament, but this summer has been a mostly failed experiment at getting myself to wake up at 4:30am everyday. I say “failed” because I only successfully manage to wake up on the first ring of my alarm about 2 out of the 4 days I attempt it. The other two days are witness to me hitting the “snooze” button at least 2 or 3 times, netting me an additional 20 to 30 min. of fitful sleep, although I know I will pay for it later. I’ve read enough articles to know that my body is not benefiting from the extra zzzzzs and I am in fact setting myself up for further failure the next morning when I try to wake up at 4:30am again. I am also being unhelpful by not sticking to my sleep/wake schedule on the weekends or Thursday, when I allow myself to sleep in till 5:30am or later.
But let’s focus on the things I’m doing right instead!
- Creating inner motivation with external cues: I live by myself, so there’s no one to hold me accountable or look over my shoulder. If I wanted to, I could totally roll over in bed every morning when my alarm goes off and continue sleeping thinking “I’ll just run tomorrow, or later, etc,” even though I would know that I would be lying to myself! So instead, I posted mantras and motivational signs on the wall by my bed, so that when I open my eyes in the morning, I know what I need to do.
- Capitalize on your willpower: It’s been found that your willpower is like a muscle, and when you use it all day to resist other temptations or force yourself to focus on an unpleasant task, it starts to weaken. By the end of the day you are more likely to give in to the little voice in your head that says, “you can run tomorrow,” while you decide to veg on the couch at home instead of lacing up your running shoes.
- Plan ahead: I always have a general idea of where I want to run in the morning. Knowing what route I plan to do ahead of time makes it easier for me to turn on auto-pilot in the morning. I have a regular pre-run morning routine. By doing the same thing every morning before I run, I take the choices out of my morning thus leaving me less opportunity to make a bad decision and feel guilty about it later.
Another reason I LOVE getting my run done in the morning are the benefits that I feel afterward!
- I jump start my whole day! For the rest of the day, and especially in the morning I get more done. If I have have to go grocery shopping or do my laundry, it gets done! If I have to go straight to work, I just don’t stop moving after I get home. My engine is revved up and I have more energy and am more awake after my run than before!
- I beat the summer heat! I don’t have to worry about thirst on the run (unless it’s a longrun) or depleting my electrolytes because it’s not 90+ F yet!
- No time crunch or conflicting appointments. Yup, once my run is done, it’s DONE! I can do whatever I need to for the rest of my day without having to think about when I’ll get the chance to squeeze in my workout.
- Make better choices for the rest of the day! After a morning run I am much more able to make healthier food choices to recover correctly and fuel my muscles. I have more motivation to create a positive life with positive actions. At the end of the day, I wind down easier as a result of having exercised in the morning and chilled at night.
- I just feel better about myself and can smile! I’ve already accomplished something today!
So how many miles are you gonna pound out tomorrow morning? I hope I’ve convinced you it’s definitely worth it!