Ok, but I’m not a morning person.
Let me be clear: I do not enjoy waking up early. In college, the absolute worst move I could make was registering for an 8 a.m. class. The threat of an angry strength & conditioning coach was the only thing that got me out of bed before 10 o’clock. Angry S&C coaches don’t teach history and humanities, so I was never making it to class.
Set your alarm far, far away: The trouble, for me, is getting vertical. Once I’m on my feet, I can creep into consciousness. But, like most folks, my phone used to sit within arm’s reach of my slumber. The alarm would go off I’d hit snooze, rinse, repeat. So, I leave my phone in the kitchen with the alarm set. In order to silence the wake-up call, I have to rise from the dead and walk to the room where coffee lives.
Pretty clever, right? Don’t stop there.
Enable autopilot: My highest recommendation is that you make life as easy as possible on the sleepy, reluctant version of yourself. That means morning preparation the night before.
I lay all of my clothes out, along with my shoes, right next to my charging headphones. My coffee is loaded and ready to go, alongside an empty 32-ounce cup awaiting water. On run days, I fuel with two eggs and Greek yogurt—both of which are moved to front-center in the fridge.
The entire process, from waking up to being dressed and eating breakfast, takes no more than five minutes.
Fine, but what’s in it for me?
Let’s assume that you’re going to run regardless. Let’s also assume that you’re not totally moved to action by factors like heat-avoidance and/or free evenings. There’s more to it.
Exercise mind and body: Cliché as it may seem, the early hours of the morning foster mental sharpening and reflection that simply isn’t available later in the day. In essence, you beat your distractions out of bed, allowing yourself a serene, peaceful setting, perfect for meditation, prayer, the CNN Morning Newsletter—or all of the above.
The process doesn’t end when your run begins, either. Early runs under the cover of darkness are perfect for losing yourself in a podcast. For anything longer than three miles, I almost never listen to music—opting, instead, for Radiolab, Elevation, or Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History.
Meet the sun: Waking up sucks. Your run can be hard work. But the feeling of fulfillment that washes over you, post-shower, fresh cup ‘o joe in tow, as you watch daybreak along the horizon is unrivaled. For that moment in time, however brief, your world is in order.
When you saw “morning run,” you thought of it as a chore. But, genuinely, I meant it as a gift—the gift of a sounder body and mind; the gift of peace and serenity in place of rushed chaos.
Find your next race.