How I became a morning person, 4am workouts, and tips to rise before the sun

The world outside my window is pitch black as my sports watch buzzes on my wrist a silent but effective and gentle alarm. It’s 4am and although groggy, I stumble out of my warm bed that still holds my husband and large comforting pregnancy pillow. I grab my phone and quietly make my way to the guest bathroom where I laid out my workout clothes the night before. I change, gulp some water down, find a playlist and either head out the door for a run or lay my yoga mat out for a practice. My day will start with a sweat. 

5 days a week, I wake up before the sun to run or practice yoga. It seems crazy, but honestly, it’s the only time I can fit in a solo workout. A moving meditation of sorts. After my solo workout, I wake my husband and we do a HIIT workout together. It’s a pretty solid routine at this point.

I’ve had friends ask me why I do it and how I find the motivation. The answer is simple; I’m a nicer and better person when I workout. Carving out some time for myself is the only way I’m not a total grouch. Running and yoga, although on the surface very different, they serve a similar purpose in my life. I consider them to be a time for reflection, meditation, and a time to explore the quiet of my mind and kinks of my body. I honor the time I can spend doing either activity.

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Over the past couple of weeks, I had to give up my morning runs because of a bruised hip. Thanks to pregnancy, my hip is totally out of alignment and makes doing anything lateral (jumping jacks, side shuffle, etc) extremely painful. I ignored it for awhile because I make bad choices and the hip pain started extending to my knee.

Most of my friends know that I am a runner with knee pain. I get it anytime I amp my distance or when I’m training for a race. To battle it, I run a little slower and try to run smarter. I foam roll, and take long breaks from running. So when my knee started to act up, I listened to my body and stopped running because I didn’t want to cause an injury that could mean months off (been there twice this year already!). I filled the time with a yoga practice which worked out great because sometimes it’s challenging to get a practice in when Baby Kola naps (I usually just want to eat during her nap time).

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And now I alternate between the two- running some mornings and practicing some mornings. I would like to start doing both. Either waking up a little earlier to get both activities in or pushing my HIIT workout with my husband back a little. I tried it today and it wasn’t too bad.

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The pros to waking up early to workout? The world is quiet. No need for sunblock and I’ve actually seen shooting stars during my morning run. Shooting stars and deer. It’s absolute perfection. I’m lucky that my little rural subdivision is about a 3 mile loop and it’s easy to make it shorter or longer. Running before the sun rises feels powerful, calming, and in all honesty, really badass. By the time most people wake up, I’ve burned a few hundred calories, got a nice sweat in, and cleared my mind for the day. And it feels pretty good to say I’m doing it while pregnant!

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Do you want to wake up early to workout or just have some quiet time to do whatever, like make a big breakfast, knock out some chores, do homework, meditate, etc? Do it! Try it for 2 weeks!

Here are FIVE tips for getting out of bed when it’s still dark outside. 

Go to bed early. Self explanatory but it’s always worth saying. Give yourself at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night. I go to bed by 9-9:30 every night and when I don’t make it to bed by then- I set my alarm back and wake up at 5am for HIIT and enjoy the extra hour of sleep.

Use a gentle alarm. Some people will say the opposite, but if you share a bed, it’s not fair to have an alarm blaring in your partner’s ear especially if you are known to press snooze. I like using my sports watch to wake me up in the morning. It vibrates and unlike a loud abrupt noise, it doesn’t anger me when it goes off. I wake up in a better mood because I wasn’t startled out of sleep.

Prep the night before. I pick out my clothes the night before my workout and leave them in the main/guest bathroom. I fill my water bottle with ice and water and set it on the counter next to my headphones and arm case for my phone. I wake up with everything I need ready to go so making an excuse is nearly impossible.

Put away the phone and visualize. I still struggle with this but stop checking your phone an hour before bed. This gives your brain a chance to calm down and prepare for an early slumber. Right before bed, visualize how your morning is going to go. Visualize your workout or activity and cement it in your head that it’s going to happen. “I’m going to wake up at 4am and run 3 miles” or “I’m going to wake up at 4am and practice back bends” are sentences I often repeat to myself as my eyes close for the night.

Reward yourself. I am sort of like a child when it comes to rewarding myself for basic adult things. Waking up early to workout often gets the reward of a warm breakfast. Your reward may be an extra 5 minutes in the shower, or enough time to pack a healthy lunch, or more cuddling time with your partner. Find something you look forward to and make it your reward. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Simple is usually best since it’s a daily routine you’re working towards. The promise of breakfast works wonders for me.

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These are the tips I follow to wake up early. Some days are better than others and I often leave my house looking a little scary but hey- that’s a benefit of working out when it’s still dark. 😉

Sonni K.

 

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