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April 4, 2013 / jessicamcelroy

8 Tips for Painless Early Rising


I stepped outside this morning at 6:30 into a steady, cold drizzle. At first I figured I’d tough it out – A little rain can be refreshing, right? As I was pumping myself up up to be the lone hardcore runner out there on the road, Garmin struggled to find satellites and beeped that its battery was dying. Meanwhile the drizzle and wind were picking up, and my resolve was starting to crumble.

I decided to postpone my run until after work and enjoy a leisurely morning with the extra time I had. I ate a delicious breakfast of farmers market bread slathered with butter and jam and a sliced banana, made a cup of coffee (which I usually never have time for before work) and caught up on news and blogs.

Even though I kind of chickened out today, all three of my mid-week runs last week and two this week were in the morning. So I’m calling that a victorious beginning to my new morning running habit.

With my incredibly vast expertise from (not quite) two weeks of rolling out of bed to run before the sun rises, here are some tips for getting up early to run, walk, bike, meditate, or whatever your thing is:

  • Tell someone your intentions. I had seven miles scheduled for Wednesday morning. I could already envision myself groggily rationalizing excuses to stay in my warm bed at the prospect of a semi-epic run. So, the night before I announced my plan to my roommate. Add in the fact that I had just extolled the merits of waking up early in a previous blog post, and I felt that there was a measure of accountability to follow through.
  • Go to bed earlier. Obviously, right? I always aim for 7-8 hours of sleep, and now that I’m not a student I find it easier to actually do this more often. Know what time you’ll need to get up in the morning for the workout you have planned then set a bedtime in advance thats 7-8 hours earlier.
  • No technology in bed. This is a new rule I am making for myself, because I find that the nights I stay up too late it’s usually because I am zoning out on my laptop, mindlessly surfing and not getting much out of it but too tired to break myself out of the computer’s spell. The light from the screen messes with your body’s signals. Bed is a place for reading books and quieting your mind before going to sleep.
  • Put your alarm clock on the other side of the room. Classic trick for forcing yourself to wake up. I’ll be honest, I’ve had mixed success with this. My alarm clock is my phone (isn’t everyone’s these days?) so I usually end up stumbling to it then carrying it back to bed with me so I can press snooze a few times.
  • Drink a glass of water before bed and first thing when you wake up. A lesser known trick, drinking water right when you get up is not only good for rehydrating yourself after sleeping, it’s actually effective at making you feel more awake. I put a glass of water on my bedside table as a visual reminder to guzzle it in the morning. Another hack I’ve found helpful is drinking water right before bed, too… Nothing will get you up faster in the morning than having to pee. And make sure to turn the bathroom light on while you’re up so your eyes start adjusting.
  • Sleep in your workout clothes. The less work separating you and the door in the morning, the more likely you are to get up. I’ve found that just sleeping in my running shorts and dri-fit shirt streamlines the process. Then I just have to brush my teeth, put in contacts, pull my hair into a ponytail, and grab my iphone and earbuds, which all takes less than 10 minutes. Stumbling around looking for a clean sports bra and my (perpetually lost) running shorts might easily double that time.
  • Get excited! Look forward to the sensations of the run: being outside, feeling the cool air on your skin and your feet rhythmically hitting the pavement, seeing the sun rise. When you’re tempted to snooze indefinitely, think of how much better and more energized you’ll feel after you work out and how those uplifting effects will stay with you for the day. Also, I like to map out new routes to run in my neighborhood or pick a new destination for an out-and-back run, so that I wake up with a sense of anticipation.
  • Look forward to breakfast. The most important meal of the day tastes even richer after you’ve earned it by burning some calories on a run. Making breakfast doesn’t have to be a big to-do. I often just eat toast and cereal or oatmeal and a banana, but it’s nice to take a few minutes to slow down and savor the ritual.
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