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Early Riser and How to Work Out in the Morning

My alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. this morning. Yeah…seemed like a good idea last night when I got in bed at 9:30 but I was definitely second guessing myself when it came down to it. But somehow it has become easier for me to get up when my alarm is set for the 5 a.m. hour than when I can “sleep in” until 7. Weird. I tried to laze around for a few minutes and contemplated going back to sleep but I was up.

Why so early? I had an easy run and ashtanga planned for today. My easy run was only a couple of miles and I really didn’t want to deal with the hassle of fitting it in and taking a second shower after work. So I thought, “oh I’ll just knock it out before ashtanga.” Eh, don’t know if that was the best idea. It was dark and lonely running at 5 a.m. and honestly, I didn’t feel very safe. I sped through it as fast as I could and then hopped in the shower to rinse off and get ready for yoga.

I’m sticking with the ashtanga and every practice is getting better and better but it is tough on my body. But not in the hot vinyasa “oh my god I’m going to pass out on my mat” kind of way but more “oh my god how is it possible for my body to move in this way and get into these poses?” Seriously, it is amazing to see the things that your body can do when you prepare it for the pose and have a little help. I must admit, my lower back is feeling really, really sore after this morning’s practice. Ashtanga involves an insane amount of backbending and I think I need to talk to my teachers about making sure I’m not compressing my low back in a lot of the poses.

And while we’re on the topic of early mornings…let’s talk about how to work out in the morning. First things first, it is not easy. I honestly wouldn’t say that I’m an early morning riser and I used to loathe morning workouts. I started working out in the mornings out of necessity. If I had after-work plans I would try to get my workout done in the morning. I would say that I was successful at this 50 percent of the time. Usually an early morning work out attempt would result in resetting the alarm and sleeping until 7, going to work and then being pissed that I missed my work out.

This has really changed in the last couple years. First, training for my first marathon was very motivating. I was scared to death not to get all of my training runs in so I was forced to do some of them in the morning. Second, when we moved to Charlotte I discovered yoga and fell in love with practicing in the mornings because it made me feel awesome for the rest of the day. And third, in January I committed to teaching a 6 a.m. BodyPump class every Monday so I really had no choice but to start the week off right with early morning exercise.

In bulleted, user-friendly format, here are my tips and tricks on how to work out in the morning:

  • Make it a habit. It might not be easy the first, tenth or hundredth time but if you keep at it, you’ll get there. And eventually you’ll find yourself waking up early even on days you don’t have work out plans.
  • Get your sleep in! It’s much, much easier to get up early to work out if you’ve gotten enough sleep the night before. Start pushing back your bed time until you find that you’re getting 7-8 hours in. (I need to follow my own advice on this one!)
  • Make it something you enjoy. You are way more likely to get up for your alarm when you enjoy the activity you have planned. Whatever it is you love – do it in the morning!
  • Commit to meeting a friend. Case in point, my ashtanga class last Thursday. There is absolutely no way that I’d have  made it to class if I hadn’t committed to meeting Sarah. And in the end I was so happy that I went. Work out friends hold you accountable – even when you don’t want to be.
  • Have everything ready the night before. Coffee maker set, breakfast assembled, workout clothes laid out, bag packed if you have to get ready at the gym. Trust me, these things make morning workouts so much simpler.

And that’s about all I have for you. Let me know if you have any other questions about how I make it work.

Ready for some photos? I know you are!

Lunch Monday.

I had not been to the store and the fridge was bare. The best I could come up with was a slice tomato over a Doctor Kracker flatbread with cream cheese. I also had an apple as a midmorning snack and the new Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabar for afternoon snack.

Brandon and I met at Y2 for a power mixed yoga class after work Monday. I was itching to get a practice in after taking the weekend off of yoga. I dont’ remember the last time I went three days without practicing! I loved, loved the class. The instructor, Jane, put together an awesome sequence and it was exactly what I needed.

We were debating homemade pizza or going out for pizza last night and going out won because we had a buy one get one free coupon for Brixx and it was their $1.95 draft night.  We started out by spitting a Brixx salad.

I selected the Artichoke Pizza for my entree.

Artichokes, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella, pesto base and whole wheat crust. YUM. I ate about half of this.

As I mentioned above, I ran and went to ashtanga this morning and then had this fabulous breakfast at my desk.

Overnight oats! In the overnight mix – oats, vanilla Greek yogurt, almond milk, cinnamon, chia seeds, blueberries, dried cranberries. On top – peanut butter, Crofter’s and granola.

Lunch was a repeat of last night’s dinner – two leftover slices. Later this afternoon I had an apple and maybe a small piece of office birthday cake. It all happened so fast…one minute I was in the kitchen and the next minute I was shoveling down cake! 😉

Since my workouts were done this morning I had the evening to relax. I went grocery shopping and cooked. It was lovely. Dinner tonight was a favorite.

Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers, roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach.

So I don’t even know how I’m sitting upright right now. I’m so tired. Must sleep! I have a tough tempo run and a hot vinyasa class planned for tomorrow so I need to get my rest.

And I leave you with…

Are you a morning workout person? If so, what are your secrets? If not, would you like to be? What do you struggle with?

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Ashlee August 10, 2010, 10:28 pm

    No, im not a morning person at all but really want to be! Look forward to hearing secrets and ideas.

  • kayli (Running On Sunshine) August 11, 2010, 9:15 am

    I’m a morning person… now. It takes some time and discipline to make early morning workouts a part of your routine, but it is well worth the tough adjustment period! As you said, you get your workout over with and don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day AND a.m. workouts give you tons of energy and make you feel great all day! I think you covered all the best tips- get plenty of sleep, use the buddy system, and PLAN AHEAD. It’s a lot easier for me to drag myself out of bed when I know my running clothes are laid out, my breakfast is pre-made, and my coffee is brewing. The hardest part is getting your feet outta bed and on the floor! Start with something light like gentle yoga or walking until you get used to the early wake-up call!

    Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers are bookmarked 🙂

  • Amanda M. August 11, 2010, 9:24 am

    I’ve made myself into a partial morning person, which is much easier now that I’m not working. As you know, the heat here in NC is wretched, so by making myself get up early, I’m able to get a long walk in with Cooper and a run before it gets too hot out. Plus, there is no gym in my area (within a 20 min drive), so the outdoors are my only chance of cardio everyday. Once I do go back to work, I’m sure it will be more of a struggle to release my pillow and get my feet on the floor in the mornings!

  • Stephanie August 11, 2010, 9:49 am

    I always told myself that there was no way I could wake up at 5am to run. Even though I always worked out or ran in the mronings on the weekends, the week days seemed impossible.

    That is, until a couple weeks ago. I give it a shot and now I am hooked!! I love being able to get my running in before the heat and I love having my evenings free to either fit in a 2nd work out or do things around the house.

  • Ashley August 11, 2010, 10:34 am

    I needed this! B/c it’s so hot out after work, I’ve been telling myself to get up and go in the morning before work but it never happens. Thanks for this encouraging post! 🙂

  • runnerstrials August 11, 2010, 8:05 pm

    Awesome job on the run and the yoga! I’m a morning person in general and really prefer working out in the mornings. But sometimes it’s soooo hard to get out of bed. I always set my coffee maker’s timer to brew a few minutes before my alarm goes off. Sometimes the smell of fresh coffee is all that’s needed to push me out of bed.

  • Natalie (The Sweets Life) August 12, 2010, 4:08 pm

    Great tips! I love to workout in the morning…just sets my day off on the right foot! I’m pretty crazy and get up at 4:45 every day to fit in my workout before arriving at work at 7. It’s tiring sometimes but I’m good about getting to sleep on time and sleep in if I need to. Marathon training has been a beast. To me, it makes more sense to get up a little earlier on the days I ALREADY get up early then have to sacrifice a weekend morning, so I’ve been getting up at 4 on Thursdays to do my long run. Insane I know but it’s SO nice to get it over with…and even at 4 am it’s beastly hot in STL (this morning it was “feels like 90”..yuck!)

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