If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.
My running is really important to me right now, I’m training to run a PB in London, and a BQ in the next few cycles (although I’m not working in cycles anymore but this is the easiest way to describe it). My uni work, this blog and spending time with friends/family is also a priority, so I’m having to get up earlier and earlier to fit my workouts in. Plus, I’ve found that I’m most able to push myself and my speed first thing, and am more likely to bail or quit on an evening run.
Wake up energised.
I’ve raved on this blog before about how life changing our wake-up light was, gradually waking you up with increasing light in your bedroom, making it feel as if you’ve woken up naturally rather than with a blaring alarm clock (although we do set one of those too as back up). Research has shown that using higher light intensity reduces the time it takes for us to fully wake up, and improves the quality of our wake up. Not only that but we also rise in a better mood, feeling more energised, decreasing sleepiness and increasing our alertness – perfect for pre – workout.
I was recently sent the Philips Wake Up Light which is a bit of an upgrade for us as it features an inbuilt radio which combines the light wake up function with natural sounds that I find really relaxing, you can then switch it over to your favourite radio station while you’re getting ready. Unfortunately with Tom’s roster we can’t use this every night, however I’ve decided I’m going to get up with him in the 4ams when he’s on earlies to make the most of it, and to ensure we’re going to bed at the same time – otherwise we can be like ships in the night!
Prep your clothes the night before.
We’ve all heard this tip but I actually got another great tip from Amy (Women’s Health online editor) at the Lululemon ‘Wellness Mindset’ talk last week. She suggested rolling up your full gym/running outfit together – everything from socks and pants to your sports bra and leggings and putting them into the drawer like that. You could even do this straight from your clean washing pile on a Sunday night to have a week of outfits ready to grab and go.
Go to bed earlier and sleep well.
Duh. You still need a decent 7-9 hours sleep, so going to bed with plenty of time is crucial. Create a relaxing environment with a decent mattress and pillows (we use the ErgoFlex memory foam mattress) for a supportive, comfortable sleep. Tom and I make sure wind down properly by listening to the radio (usually Five Live) before we go to bed, and use the sunset simulation on the Wake Up light to drift off to sleep. I also listen to podcasts when Toms not there to help reduce my night time anxiety.
I wrote a piece for Women’s Running on the importance of a bedtime routine.
Give yourself plenty of time
I pride myself on being able to get up and out the door in about 15 mins flat – when I used to go to Project Awesome for 6.30am, I’d try to cram in as much sleep as possible as I could shower and eat at work. Now that I have to shower and get ready at home post-run I want to give myself a little more time and reduce the franticness of the morning. Plus my coach has added drills pre-run into my routine alongside higher weekday mileage and post-run core workouts so I’m waking up even earlier to fit it all in on the days that I’m in uni. I pre make my breakfast, have my outfit and bag ready, so just need to shower, change, grab my things and jump in the car (while it’s so dark in the mornings I’ve swapped my 20 min walk to the station for a <5min drive, maximising those extra 15 mins in bed!).
Make sure to recce a new morning run route to ensure that it’s well lit, and not going to be terrifying on your own at 6am. I’m quite limited where I live so end up having to run the same 2 mile stretch for my super early morning runs (or hit the treadmill). I tell Tom how far I’m planning to run, wear high visibility gear and a head torch, and always have my phone with me. I also only listen to music or a podcast in one ear so that I can listen out for traffic, other runners etc easily. Try to find a running buddy or group to run with if possible – still working on this one in Henley but it would make waking up to meet someone so much easier, not to mention safer.
Hydrate and fuel
This was a tricky one to figure out, as I don’t want to have to get up in the night to pee, however it’s important to be hydrated pre-run. I now just try to stay hydrated at all times, drinking enough water with dinner and a large glass when I wake up. I know some runners who drink a coffee before their run but this doesn’t work for my super early miles. If I’m running less than 6 miles I don’t really eat anything (other than my Alive vitamins) before I go – however for longer weekday runs and especially speed workouts, I try to eat a banana and have a Nuun about 30 mins before heading out. This takes a lot of trial and error – what works for me won’t necessarily work for you! Practice on days where you don’t have a really tough workout to make sure you nail your hydration and nutrition for the harder days.
Feel smug for the rest of your day.
I genuinely feel so much happier, less anxious and more prepared for the day ahead when I’ve run first thing. Easy miles provide the time to think and de-stress, speed workouts push me and make me feel like a badass, longish runs mid week make me feel invincible.
So on this Blue Monday, get out for some miles and schedule in some early workouts this week – I promise you’ll feel better for it.