Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The 4 AM Club – Tips for early morning running

I used to have a limit, or rule if you will, about the absolute earliest I would ever run.  The earliest I would ever allow an alarm was 4:47AM.  I broke the rule, and it wasn’t even that hard.  Thank the time change.  3:55 AM, my eye balls popped open BEFORE my 4:00 AM alarm.  Like I said, if not for the time change, this would not have happened.  But my bed times had been skirting around the 8:30 range the last two nights.  So this was just sort of my body going by it’s normal clock.

To make a long story short, I had a time crunch, I needed to be in the car with my co-worker by 6:15 to head out for a work conference.  I wanted to run 6 miles.  SO, I started at 4:10 AM.  And it didn’t suck.

Tips for morning running and getting your tail out of bed:
-          - PLAN!!!! You must plan ahead.  Set a goal, an alarm, and all of your gear out the night before so it’s right there, and takes little time for you to gather.
-          - Go to bed early.  This goes with the planning aspect.  If you know you are running early, or earlier than you normally would, make sure to plan ahead and get to bed in time.  Cut caffeine off early in the day and start winding down so you can fall asleep.  This is really easy for me, I always seem to be tanked and ready for bed.  I’m also a good sleeper (if this exists)  I very rarely have issues falling or staying asleep, and I don’t have kids to wake me up!
-          - Go to bed visualizing your run.  This might sound crazy, but it works for me!  I visualize the workout, the route, or my plan for the morning.  Am I doing a tempo? Steady state? How many miles?  This helps and it also is a good motivator.
-          - Have your fuel ready.  I don’t eat anything, but I do drink something.  I have my Spark in my shaker bottle, and my 3 Catalyst on the counter waiting for me.  I take them immediately, that way by the time I get dressed, they have kicked in and give me the boost I need.
-          - Remind yourself WHY you are doing this.  For me, it’s usually “you get to come home after work and watch General Hospital” or “this beats going to the crowded Y.”  Or in yesterday’s case, it was really the only time I could do it.  I knew I’d be camped on my butt all day long in the car and in training, and wouldn’t have the energy to do a dang thing when we got home (this was the case) so I was extra motivated, and extra glad I did it!

Don’t expect to become a morning runner overnight.  It takes some getting used to.  I started last summer, and only did it when it was horribly hot out.  By September, I was back to running after work in the evenings or not at all.  (I kind of fell off the wagon after race season)  It’s not always easy, and can wear you down if you don’t take the rest when you need it.  I make sure to sleep in on my cross training days and do it after work or on my lunch break.  Having those “sleep in” days help me get through the week, and help me wake up more motivated the next early day.  It’s routine for me now, and second nature, but it took time to get there.  It’s like training for a race, you have to train your body to be able to respond and get going early.

THIS ISN’T FOR EVERYONE!  I so get that.  I can’t imagine the thought of evening running, like after 7pm.  Some people always run in the evenings.  Some people just aren’t morning people.  Some people think I’m bat sh*t crazy.  Everyone is different.  If I didn’t have to work 8-5, I would not run at 5AM.  My personal favorite time is that 7AM range.

Random tidbits from yesterday:
-         - FOUR.  The time I ran, and the number of cups of coffee I had.  One latte from Scooters and three cups of good ol’ black coffee during training.  I love coffee, but I typically don’t drink any during the week.  One day a week tops.  So this was a lot, and the top of my head was tingling.

-         - Mahoney State Park is just gorgeous.  If you can make it there during the fall, DO IT!  Wow.  I wished we could have been outside walking the trails or biking instead of inside.

-         - I hate to drive.
-         - Don’t trust the “fuel range” mile indicator on your car.  I was a block away from the gas station, and was 95% sure I was going to have to get out and push it there… oops.

-         - I really hate being in the car.