“How do you wake up so early to run?”
Everyone wants a quick fix or little trick to becoming someone who rises with the sun. (Put your alarm on the other side of the room! Enlist a buddy to hold you accountable! Set a goal to train for or work toward!) And those are great and can help. But my take? Stop over-complicating it! If you want or need to be someone who works out in the morning, Nike that shit and just f-ing do it.
Do I want to wake up at stupid-early times to wake up and work out most mornings? Not really. Would I rather sleep forever? Dude, duh. But here are a few things that really have helped me commit to early AM workouts.
1. Make sure you’re waking up for something you love or want to do.
The days when I actually do bound out of bed are the days I have something exciting to do. I genuinely like waking up and going to the track on Tuesdays, and I look forward to the Wednesday November Project workouts because I know I’ll get to see my friends. I’m not as eager to rise when I’m getting up for 6 easy solo miles or something less thrilling. If you’re going to commit to forgoing shut-eye in favor of a workout, make it for something that’s effective, worth your while, and fun. Don’t wake up at 4:30 AM to half-ass your way through a sad spin class. Instead, pick an activity you love and will want to wake up for.
2. Refuse to snooze.
Simple as that. Create a rule that you will not under any circumstances hit the snooze button. The snooze button is my downfall. If I hit it once, I’ll hit it 15 times. So my rule is to grab my phone when the alarm goes off, turn the alarm off, and start doing something, like scrolling Instagram or checking my email. And while I’m doing that, I remind myself that I’m more likely to regret snoozing than I am to regret getting up.
3. Accept that you’re probably not going to feel amazing when your alarm first goes off.
I’m sure there are people who pop out of bed at 5 AM ready to crush the day. I am generally not one of those people. But I have come to accept that I will most likely feel like tired garbage when I first hear my alarm. I won’t want to get up. I won’t love that it’s dark out, I won’t love having to get dressed, and I probably won’t even love the first mile of my run. But eventually and gradually, I’ll start to feel better. Maybe it’ll be during the second mile, the fifth lap around the track, or when I’m back home and showered, but I know that feeling will come, and I remind myself of that while I’m waking up.
4. Give yourself a few minutes to ease into it.
When setting my alarm each night, I work backward. Take Wednesdays — my earliest days — for example. My workout starts on the Upper East Side at 5:28 AM. That means I need to be in an Uber around 5:05, which means I need to order my Uber around 4:55. (Ubers aren’t as densely populated here in West New York as they are in Manhattan! Sometimes the closest Uber is 10 minutes away; other times there are none available. The horror!) From there, I know I need at least 30 minutes to truly get ready — that includes going to the bathroom 3+ times, getting dressed, brushing my teeth, and then going to the bathroom one more time. That brings us to 4:25. Then I give myself a 5-minute buffer. That’s the period during which I can stay in bed scrolling social media and checking my emails before I have to actually physically get up. And that’s why I wake up at 4:20 on Wednesdays.
5. If working out at night works better for you, work out at night.
People give a lot of credit to morning runners. And waking up early is hard! But so is running at night! If you truly want to be someone who works out in the morning, commit to it. But if a post-work sweat fits into your schedule better and means you’re more likely to go for that run or get to that yoga class, then keep working out at night. Don’t let morning exercisers get all the glory — any time you can get out and bust a move is quality time.
6. Don’t wake up early every morning.
It helps me to know I get at least one morning per week when I don’t have to wake up at 5. I have no problem waking up early on Tuesday and Wednesday if it means I get an extra hour of sleep on Thursday. Pick a few days a week to do the early-rising thing, and give yourself a break on the other days if that helps.
7. Stop bitching about it.
Complaining about waking up early is not going to make it any easier, I promise. Yes, you may hit a 2 PM “holy shit I cannot stay awake” slump. Yes, you may need to go to bed a little earlier. But no, it’s not the end of the world and it’s not impossible. Give yourself a little tough love and just do it.
Suck it up, buttercup. Wake up!
All that being said, don’t be stupid. Sleep and rest are important, too. Family is important, too. Your health is definitely important. Figure out your priorities and plan accordingly. But don’t keep hitting snooze because you’re tired. Everyone’s tired. Everyone’s busy. Everyone’s over-worked. (I don’t condone this — I think it’s crap that this is how we all live in 2016! But I recognize that it’s often the reality.) If you want to reach your goals, you’ll make sacrifices sometimes. You got this.
ANYTHING TO ADD? If you’re a pro morning runner, feel free to share some tips for your friends here!