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Thursday, September 19, 2013

The early bird catches the worm

Johannes wl, Flickr

I've never been one to enjoy sleeping in (past 7 am is late for me!), but I've always admired those who get up before the birds (let's say before 6 am).

For a few years, I did have to, as I coached a varsity swim team. Getting up around 5 was NOT natural for me. To "survive", I would find a way to nap later in the day (I was still a student or working part-time). One day, I decided to make the best of the time I had between the end of the swimming practice and the arrival of children's groups (I had about half an hour of time to kill). I piled 3 big floating mattresses in the pool and lied down on them, with the intention of just relaxing the minutes away. Well. I fell asleep. Deep asleep. My boss found me catching some ZZZZZs as I floated about in the deserted pool. How embarrassing! Luckily the kids had not arrived yet.

Other than that I had never been able to get up before 6. But that all changed when I started training for long distance races. Simply put, there is just not enough time in a day to do it all! So my friend K and I decided to put runs where we could fit them, i.e. before everybody else gets up. Running that early means that it's crazy dark (and half of the year, crazy cold), but since we started, we've never looked back. There is something thrilling in having a full workout done and over with by the time most people rise. I love to spend the rest of my day knowing that my exercise is done. I love how I don't need coffee when I start the day with a run: it's fully energizing! I love to see the moon and stars at their best. I love the quiet. And after running in the dark, cold, Canadian countryside early morning, anything else the day throws at you seems like a breeze!

I like this new habit so much I have decided to extend it to all mornings (K and I run 3 or 4 times a week): I've decided to go to the gym on the "other" mornings. At first I was apprehensive: oh, but I'm gonna have to actually get in the car and drive to get there, and hurry to get back in time for shower-breakfast-put the kids on the bus-walk the dog-off to work routine! I decided to at least try it. And... I loved it! I love how quiet the gym is at such an early hour. I love how the rare hardcore fitness freaks who do attend the gym at that time interact in such a warm, almost family-like way. I love how the woman at the front desk plays old-fashioned music just because no one at the gym at 5:30 am is under 35 years old. Here's a sample from this week:

It's 5:30 am and you're lifting weights to this.

And doing push-ups to that.

And rowing away on the rowing machine to that, too.

Oh, and stretching to that, of course.

Are you an early riser?
How do you fit your training routine in your busy schedule?
How's your sleep?


  1. I'm an early riser out of necessity (4:30 - 5:00).
    And, I sleep horribly!
    Love the tunes from the early morning gym time!!

    1. Oh no! I hope you figure out why your sleep is that way!

  2. NO SLEEPING IN FOR ME. Sleeping in for me is getting up at 6:50am. If I ever were to get up after 7am, I feel like I wasted the entire day! Strange but true. I am such a morning person. Come 5pm I am tired and really just want to kick it on the couch and unwind until bed time, which is generally around 10/11. I get so much accomplished every day though and I truly believe it's because I get up so early... And go to the gym FIRST THING! :D

    1. GiGi, I feel the same about getting up "late": it's like the day has been wasted. You seem to be great at maximizing your time!

  3. Once you get used to going to bed early, getting up is easy!

    1. I'm not an early riser, except on those mornings that I am. Sometimes I'll spontaneously wake up at 5 a.m. and decide to get out of bed and start my day. The swimming pool opens at 7 a.m., so I spend a couple of hours with my coffee, breakfast, taking the dog on a walk.

      I used to sleep terribly -- sleep apnea and insomnia. Since retiring, both have improved tremendously and I sleep pretty well now. But on the few nights I cannot fall asleep, I don't have to worry about because I know I can sleep in. I'm lucky, and I know it.

    2. Coffee, breakfast, dog, swimming pool... that sounds like a perfect morning! :-)
      Glad you sleep so well!

  4. I once saw an older woman in our fitness center pool asleep! But she was just floating in the water!! I asked her about it later and she said she had never been defeated in a how long can you float contest, lol!

    Love Cat Stevens! He has been unjustly criticized!

    I run in the early AM also. There have been many times it was before the sunrise.

    1. (Un)fortunately I cannot float that well! Runner's legs just sink to the bottom!

      I'm more "talented" at sleeping: I've fallen asleep on the dentist chair!

      Love Cat Stevens too. Especially the song you shared with me a while ago, and that I didn't know.

  5. I am an early riser but didn't start being one until I lost all my weight. That's when I started getting up to workout!

  6. I really want to become an early riser, I just manage it on days I have long runs scheduled and on thursdays when I have an early morning RPM class...I wish I could do this everyday.I am trying and I doubt I will give up till I become one:)