The past few months I’ve been repeating a phrase each time I wake up around 5 AM and cringe at the alarm signaling that I should get up for a workout: “It’s a lot more fun to run in the morning when you want to, not as much fun when you have to.”
Working at Runner’s World, we’re lucky that pretty much every workday we can close our laptops for an hour at noon and head out for a run with somebody.
This makes getting in one’s weekly mileage a lot easier during training, and often my coworkers are good with any form of tempo run, tough hill, or easy run that’s on the schedule.
But like any job, meetings run long, deadlines loom, or work piles up. More and more I’m able to foresee when this will happen on a given day, dislodging that normal midday run. That means waking up super early – for my internal clock at least – and doing weekday morning runs.
Being a regular night owl, getting to bed early is fine in theory. Even though I try, I’ll toss and turn until it creeps closer to midnight. So the early alarm is obviously not welcome on those mornings when I have to wake up and run before work.
To help myself out with this, I’ve tried to implement some strategies that make the sunrise summer sweat session a little easier to take.
Go Fast: While my body doesn’t always like it, I’ve found that heading to a track once a week is much more stimulating for me than a slow slog for five miles. One trick I find immensely helpful in the morning is a good warm-up. I’ve discovered that if I do anything less than two easy miles to start, trying to pick up the pace for any set of intervals becomes a challenge. The other great thing about a morning interval set is that the miles fly by way faster than my routine run because everything is broken up, and each new interval becomes a new goal to strive for.
Find Some New Routes: I love this looped trail that’s a half-mile away from my door, but running it every morning just gets progressively boring. If I figure out the night before that I want to run in some new area – or explore a route that I haven’t done in a long time, maybe even a route in reverse – for some reason it makes that wakeup call a little easier. It’s almost like when you know you have to meet up with a friend, although in this case it’s a route you don’t want to disappoint by not showing up.
Make Yourself Chuckle: Most runs I do are with people, meaning no headphones. But when all I have to do is an early four or five miles easy on my own, I strap on my Trekz Titanium wireless headphones and plug into my growing list of favorite podcasts. With these morning runs becoming ever more present over the past few months, I’ve found that saving a good comedy podcast wakes me up more than a show that asks me to focus and think a little more. Some of my favorite shows for a laugh are How Did This Get Made (a discussion of terrible movies), Sklarbro Country (comedians riffing on weird sports and pop culture items), and Pardon My Take (a bit cruder sports/comedy podcast that I can’t get enough of.)
Of course, you should find what makes you want get out the door if you don’t mind plugging in on a run, whether it’s music, audiobooks, or your favourite podcast. (Pardon my cheap plug for The Runner’s World Show.)
Treat Yo Self: This is a very simple idea. For getting up so damn early and getting any workout done, I regularly make sure I have something to look forward to afterward. Maybe I’ll swing by Chick-fil-a for a breakfast wrap, even if it’s a little bit out of the way it feels totally worth it. On my more routine Friday morning runs with my wife, we know we’ll stop at a local coffee shop afterward for a drink and add on a scrumptious muffin.
These motivators have been working a lot better for me, but the key is to find the ways you know you’ll look forward to swinging your body out of bed at the crack of dawn.