By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey
Call me an early bird, a morning person, the am energizer bunny; whatever your label, I like to start my day with some training. And in triathlon training when there are usually two activities planned per day, having one done while most of those in your time zone are still sleeping is a bonus. Like anyone though, the best laid plans can often go awry and I have missed my morning training. On those days, the bulk of my training then gets scheduled after a workday and I end up regretting that I didn’t start my day with at least some of it.
So, here are my tips for embracing the morning:
Any article you read about morning training will tell you to put the clothing for your activity out the night before. This is so true! I only tend to run or swim in the morning so it is important to get organized before tucking in to bed. I pack my swim bag with gear and work clothes and leave it by the door. If treadmill running is in the plan, then shorts and a sports bra it is. If running outdoors, I check the weather app and plan accordingly. When I wake up and see my gear sitting there all ready to go, I am more inclined to get up and put it on. No decisions needed. You can even use this as a practice transition…from PJs to run attire in less than 30 seconds!
If the training plan calls for a run and the weather is nasty (here in Vancouver that means rainy and cold) or it is too dark to run on your own, have a Plan B. I have a treadmill in the garage so can jump on there and run to my heart’s content. If you don’t happen to have one, check out the community centres in your area as many open at 0500. Some gyms are 24 hours so any time of the morning works for them. If you have an option then there are no weather-based excuses.
To eat or not to eat? Is it time for fasted training? Or do you eat breakfast before training? Know the answer to this before you go to bed. Fasted training has its benefits as it teaches your body to utilize fat for energy but it is not something you want to do every morning. Other mornings require a bit of toast and pb. I find cereal with milk or a glass of milk (or the yummy chocolate variety) is too belly-sloshy to run after so if I am eating, I stick to one piece of toast. If it is a fasted state training session, I ensure I have a Hammer gel handy just in case I start to feel a little light headed. There is nothing worse than being 5 or 6 km from home and becoming hypoglycemic – my ears start to buzz, I start to see auras around objects and I generally feel awful. A quick intake of gel resolves this within minutes.
Whatever the training activity, have a plan. Know the objectives of the session. If it is a run, know your route, pace, time and distance. If it is a swim, review the outline the night before and have it on something you can take poolside. When you waffle in the morning about whether you really want to get up or not, it is easier to just get your feet out of bed and on the ground when you know what the goals are for that day.
Finally, be realistic. You went to bed planning to get up and do the activity you prepared for; however, things can happen overnight. You might not have slept well, you might have had your sleep interrupted by something, you might have gone to bed later than you hoped, or you might wake up just not feeling rested and energized. Be forgiving and gracious with yourself, not every day is the perfect day for morning training. Sometimes it needs to be rescheduled to later in the day or even another day. Be flexible with your training; at the end of the week most of it will get done but perhaps not in the order you had originally intended.
When I get asked about how I find the time to train and still work and meet family commitments, my response is: “There are two 5:30s in the day and I embrace them both.” I am hopeful these tips get you thinking about starting your day with some exercise. Endorphins, our feel-good hormones, are stimulated with exercise. Get them circulating and start your day on a positive note!