After a difficult start to the year where my running or non-running was all over the place, my training over the past 5 weeks has gotten the most consistent it’s been since 2012 (the year I first started running – I stuck religiously to my training plan, haha). Aside from resting my foot last week, I haven’t skipped a single planned run! I’m seeing improvements in my endurance and speedwork much faster than I have in the past after a break from running, and I think it’s all due to one small change in my routine – waking up a little earlier before my run.
My usual routine used to go as follows: wake up around 6 AM, get dressed, pull on my sneakers and head out the door. I often didn’t feel really mentally prepared or excited for the run, and a few times I ran about half a mile before calling it quits and heading back home. The mental aspect is 90% of your running game, and I just didn’t feel ready when I started my run. More recently, I didn’t even make it that far – many mornings I ended up hitting snooze and attempted my run in the afternoon after work. I’m all about flexibility and training when you can, but the afternoon running was hit-or-miss for me and I really wanted to get back into the habit of running in the morning.
So about a month ago, I decided to make one small change to my routine – I set my alarm 15 min earlier to give myself time to eat a small snack and drink coffee/ hydrate before my run. I also used the time to water my plants, get other small chores done and read a few running blogs/ Runner’s World for motivation before heading out the door.
To my surprise, I found myself really looking forward to this morning routine and I haven’t missed a single morning run since I started it. Over a couple of weeks, I’ve slowly moved up my alarm to 5:15, giving myself a solid 30 min to get ready before my run and additional time afterwards for stretching/ planks. My body’s gotten so used to it that I often wake up a few minutes prior to my alarm.
My morning down time really prepares me in many ways for my run; drinking coffee 30 min prior to running ensures it kicks in and I get a chance to use the bathroom, I have plenty of time to digest a small snack to fuel me, and it gives me time to think about my goals for the run and mentally rehearse the tricks I might need to keep going during a tough workout. An additional bonus – I sleep better and earlier at night because I’m tiring myself out early and not working out close to bedtime.
So if you’re struggling with your morning runs or finding that the afternoons/evenings aren’t an ideal time to work out, try revamping your morning routine/ wake-up to make space for a little down time before your workout. You might not need a solid half hour as I do; even 5-10 min could make a difference in finding motivation and mentally preparing yourself for the run.
What time of day do you work out? Do you go right away (after waking up or coming home) or need time to mentally prepare?