The other day at work (I’m a nurse), my patient’s cell phone rang while I was starting her IV. Not a big deal, right? Except for the fact that her ring tone was the same jingle that I use for my morning alarm. The second I heard her phone ring, I jumped and I got that ugh-I-have-to-wake-up-now-but-I-don’t-want-to feeling. All that to say, mornings are not my friend.
I used to be a morning person and I would wake up before the sun and bound out of bed with a ton of energy. But now that I work 12p-12a, I don’t greet the early morning hours with so much gusto anymore. In fact, it takes so much energy for me to get up and make it to the coffee pot these days that the thought of doing an actual workout in the morning makes me cringe.
The thing is, right now, I’m training for 2 triathlons, a ½ marathon and a marathon and all of those races start before 8am.
In the past, I’ve done all of my race training in the evening and then just gotten up early and hoped for the best on race morning. But that method makes for a pretty rough race.
So, to avoid being half asleep and sluggish for my upcoming races, I’ve started working out in the mornings. I’m happy to report that while it may not feel so awesome to get up early, it does feel so awesome to have my workout done by 9am.
Aside from setting my clothes out the night before, here are a few things that have made my morning workouts a lot easier:
Have A Plan
My brain wakes up much later than my body. I definitely need to have some coffee and a few moments to wake up before I can form a logical thought. So, if I don’t have a plan and know exactly what I’m going to do for my workout, then the odds of me swimming, biking or running are not in my favor. So, before you wake up, set your schedule, have a plan, and know what you’re going to do for your workout.
Have A Snack
Food is a huge motivator for me. Many times in the middle of a long run or bike ride, I’ll think about what I’m going to eat when I get home. It’s like holding a carrot in front of a horse. This tactic also works to get me out of bed. Having a snack before I start training gives me an energy boost and it also prevents me from getting hangry (hungry + angry = hangry) during my workout. My favorite snacks are whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana or Greek yogurt with peaches and blackberries.
Drink More Water
Feeling tired, sluggish or hungry? You may be dehydrated. Dehydration is sneaky and is often the reason you may feel like you have no energy. You should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day… and if you’re getting in a sweat session, you’ll need more. (Check out iDrated, it’s a super cool, free app that helps you track your water intake.)
Try adding cucumbers, or a sprig of mint, or some frozen berries to your water to make it more interesting. Snack on water rich fruits like watermelon, oranges and grapes. Still bored of water? Try coconut water! It has a natural sweetness along with a ton of electrolytes and it’s SO good for you… especially compared to a sugary sports drink.
As soon as I get up, I turn on my workout playlist. My playlist is full of upbeat songs that inspire and motivate me. And a crazy thing happens when I hear these songs. I get a pep in my step and I dance around the kitchen making my coffee and getting ready for my workout. Before I know it, I’m awake and ready to go for a run… and depending on how much I’ve been dancing and frolicking around, I’m already warmed up. ☺ (If you have sleeping family members who won’t appreciate your 7am dance party, or a husband who doesn’t like Rihanna and Kelly Clarkson as much as you do, then opt for headphones).
Fake It Till You Make It
There are days when my first few laps in the pool or minutes pounding the pavement feel like I’m moving through quicksand. That’s when the mental game starts. My mind starts to tell me how much it sucks to workout in the morning and how I should just quit and go back to bed. My tip for this is to fake it till you make it.
First, smile. Don’t underestimate the power of a smile… you brain pays attention to what your body is doing and a smile tells your brain that you’re happy and so your brain releases endorphins.
Next, start to crowd out those negative thoughts with positive ones like it feels great to get my workout in before 9am, or I love to run and it’s cooler and more peaceful to run in the morning, or this is awesome! You may be surprised that these simple things have the power to make your workout a little bit easier and more enjoyable.
You’ve been waking up early and getting in your morning workouts for a few weeks and now it’s time to reward yourself! Whether it’s a new headband, a few new songs from iTunes, a cute workout top, or even a new Vitamix blender to whip up your favorite post-run smoothie, positive reinforcement can really help you make your morning workout streak into a habit. You earned it! Way to go!
So now when I hear someone’s cell phone ring and it just happens to be the same ring tone as my alarm, I don’t panic or cringe anymore. Instead, I smile because mornings are now my friend and I hope these tips will help you learn to love, or at least tolerate, working out in the morning too!