Monday, July 1, 2013

Get Up, Get Out - A Minimalist Guide to Early Morning Running

If the thought of waking up in the morning when the hour hand starts with a 3 makes you quiver, it might surprise you that I too felt the same way.  But life has a funny way of putting things in perspective.  With busy work schedules between my wife and I, along with our future runner, my perspective of what is considered "early" has drastically changed.  Early morning running has become my normal, because I made it my normal through repetition and gradual transition.  But it wasn't always that easy, trust me.

There are lots of help articles and recommended guidelines for people to "become a morning runner", but at the end of the day, no number of guidelines will get your butt out the door if you don't have the motivation.  I assume since most of you looking to get your runs accomplished first thing in the morning happen to be pretty motivated in general, we'll skip that step.  If you aren't motivated, then maybe its time to assess why you workout and/or what your goals are.

So going back to the simple act of being a morning runner...there are lots of reasons why one would want to make this a regular part of your weekly routine.  Here are just a few:

- No distractions: You get your run in while the rest of the world is sleeping, so you have the trails to yourself.  No issues with work pulling a fast one just as you are ready to head home and lace up, or having to take care of any house chores.  When you create time by waking up early, it is YOUR time.

- Glycogen depletion: All of my morning runs are done in a fasted state to take advantage of the benefits of glycogen depletion.  Studies show that training in a fasted state on low glycogen can increase fat oxidation and enhance metabolic adaptations in skeletal muscle.  Why not get some additional adaptations, while saving yourself some time?

- No food worries: This goes with the point above, since you don't have to think about what to eat.  And trust me, you don't need to eat anything, unless you are going really long (20+ mi) or racing.  This also means fewer digestive issues.

- Start the day with a kick of endorphins: I've never regretted getting out for a morning run.  As hard as it might be to get out there, the reward once you are done is always worth it.  You feel better about yourself knowing you've already accomplished something and the day has only just begun.

- Clothing choices are easier: Aside from dressing appropriately for the weather, when its dark, nobody cares that you're wearing those neon orange hot pants, or that fugly race shirt you'd never sport in public.  Save the "fashion" running clothes for the daytime.  When its early in the morning, you can rock whatever you want*.

 *Obviously, safety is the top priority, so aside from the awful looking clothes you might be wearing, you'd be smart to wear some type of Reflective Vest, Color
 and/or a Headlamp.  I typically wear both.  Plus my RoadID.

- Time passes faster: It may have to do more from the fact that your focus is on where your foot is next landing since your surroundings are black, but I find time passes way faster when I run in the dark.

So now that we all know several of the reasons why we should run early, how do you do it in a simple, minimal way:

Get Up, Get Out  

That's my mantra and I firmly believe it gives you the best odds of accomplishing your morning run.  Some people like to toil around on the web, eat a snack, make coffee, etc.  All that time spent gives you lots of easy excuses to never leave the house.  If you want coffee, and sometimes I do, I set a timer for it to brew before I wake, or use some extra from the previous day, or make some before bed.  No time should be wasted.  My routine has me out the door within 15 minutes of my alarm going off.  Yes, you read that right.  16 minutes before I take my 1st running step, I was sleeping.  Here's how:

Get up 
When your alarm goes off, get up immediately without snoozing.  I don't have any hard numbers on this, but I'm willing to bet that more than 50% of morning run attempts are fails due to the infamous snooze.  Get up, brush your teeth, put on your clothes that you laid out the night before, and do some quick dynamic stretching to wake up your body.

Get Out
Once you are out the door, odds of you turning back are already much lower.  You've now committed to the run.  If you need to do any more warm up drills, do them outside, leaving you less likely to turn back.  Otherwise, best be on your way toward being awesome while the rest of the world is sleeping.

1 comment:

Brian Ayers said...

This is REALLY helpful! Having a baby in the house now, I'm finding that (early) mornings are about the only times I can regularly rely on to get my runs in.... this helps answer some of the HOW questions I've had in regards to making it work. Thanks!

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