Training Tuesdays: Tips for Adjusting to Morning Workouts

It seems I’ve been writing at length about my transition to early mornings. I used to steadfastly cling to the belief that I could not work out in the morning. I was the one who said things like “I cannot possibly get up before 6 am and function” or “my body cannot handle workouts before breakfast”. I like to speak in (false) absolutes.

Clearly, the litany of stories I told myself about what I could/couldn’t accomplish in the morning were just that: stories.  As it turns out, you can teach an old dog new tricks. I have quickly adapted to predominantly early morning workouts and you can too.  If you’ve been contemplating a change to early morning workouts, or if it’s become necessary for you, never fear! Here are some quick tips to adjust to early morning workouts:

1. Go to bed earlier: This one takes the cake for obvious suggestions, but if you’re going to get up substantially earlier, going to bed earlier is a must. It’s not sustainable in the long run if you don’t.  Anyone who works out regularly knows that one of the biggest keys to a good workout is being well-rested. Sure it’s more fun to stay up binge-watching Netflix but you’ll live in a sea of regret the following morning. Of course, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be so exhausted by 9:30 you won’t even be able to keep your eyes open and sleep will seem like nothing but a delicious comfort.

2. Pack all your stuff for the next day the night before: I mean pack everything.  Pack your change of clothes, your breakfast and lunch and snacks and whatever else you plan to eat, lay out your workout clothes, set your coffee machine (see below) and have it all ready to grab on your way out the door.  Don’t play the “oh, I forgot to do [whatever-you-haven’t-done] but I’ll just do it in the morning” game. I promise you, you won’t want to do it in the morning. You’ll end up running late and your workout will suffer.  Or, worse, you’ll forget to pack a real bra and have to wear a sweaty sports bra all day. Disorganization is the death of a solid morning workout.

3. Pick your morning workouts wisely: This is maybe specific to the older and/or injured. If you have a body that takes time to warm up, be thoughtful about the types of workouts you do first thing in the morning.  For instance, I don’t run at 5:45 in the morning. I need my body to limber up a bit before launching in to a run, so I stick to spin and strength in the mornings and reserve my runs for weekends or days when I can take a mid-morning break at work.

4. Caffeinate, caffeinate, caffeinate: This flies against conventional wisdom about crazy things like hydration. I know that it’s not technically healthy to rely on caffeine, but I tell you that my best morning workouts are fuelled by 2 shots of espresso. Trust me. Feel free to supplement with water, but don’t skip the good stuff.

5. Accept that you’ll feel tired: I am a realist. I never expected to wake up feeling excited to work out. I know my eyes will feel heavy. I know my body will feel tired. I know that I’ll be cursing the fact that I’m up so early. Accepting all of this normalizes the experience and allows me to move on. Don’t be an idealist. Don’t expect it to feel like rainbows and unicorns. Join me in staunch pragmatism.

If you can follow these simple steps you’ll be rewarded with fitting in workouts you thought you couldn’t, getting them out of the way earlier so you can cruise through the rest of the day and, perhaps most important, encountering substantially less crowded gyms!!!! Get to it early birds!



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