Let's get one thing straight: I'm not a morning person. Due to unfortunate personal circumstances (looking at you, two-hour commute), I've had to forcibly become one. The only way for me to get in a workout is to do it super early, and exercise is a priority for me, even if I have to get up at — shudder — 5:25 a.m. to do it.
Yes, that's when I have to set my alarm if I want to run in the morning. Once I'm out the door, it's surprisingly OK: I like running, and going early means there aren't as many cars rushing past or other people clogging up the sidewalks. Finishing a morning run leaves me relaxed for the rest of the day, too. It's the part before the run that's really challenging. My schedule is so tight that if I lose five minutes, I won't make the train to work. I have to be on the ball from the moment I get out of bed, and for me, at 5:30 in the morning, that's not easy.
To make these runs happen, I've come up with a routine that's designed to wake me up and get me out the door even when my body feels magnetized to the bed. When all goes according to plan, I'm out the door by 6 a.m., back home by 6:45, and leisurely making my way to the train station by 7:20. If you can relate to the morning workout struggle, go ahead and give these strategies a try.
My Pre-Run Routine
- Set out everything the night before. I know . . . everyone's favorite workout tip! This really is non-negotiable for me. I need a lot of equipment and there's no way I'm lugging it out at 5:30 a.m. I lay my clothes on a dresser and, in the living room, set out all my warm-up and running gear so it's right where I need it to be: exercise mat, foam roller, shoes, earphones, phone holder, and headlamp.
- Immediately make my bed after the alarm goes off. It's simple: making my bed right after I wake up means I won't be able to crawl back under the covers and sleep for another three hours.
- Brush my teeth. The minty toothpaste and bright bathroom lights really wake me up. If I need a little extra help, I'll read my news app or a book (yes, a book) to get my brain going.
- Change as soon as I get back to my room. My pajamas are so cozy. My apartment is so cold. If I let myself think about it for even a second, I'll procrastinate getting changed and lose precious time. Instead, I start changing before I can question it. Once the running clothes are on, we're in the clear; I'm not taking that sports bra off again until it's drenched in post-run sweat.
- Do an ab workout to warm up. A quick ab circuit gets my body warm and activates my core, which is essential before any kind of workout. This challenging plank workout for runners is my current fave; it's only three minutes long, so it fits perfectly in my tight schedule.
- Stretch while watching pump-up videos. Stretching is so boring to me, and in the morning that means I literally start falling back asleep on my mat. So while I'm rolling out my muscles (I use a foam roller and the Stick), I go on YouTube and watch one or two music videos. (Full disclosure, they are usually K-pop.) This takes me from barely-awake to pumped-up and ready to crush my run.
Note: I don't eat before my early-morning runs, but if you need a snack to get you going, I recommend a piece of toast or a banana with peanut butter. You can find more pre-workout snack ideas right here.