Early-Morning Running Routine: Seven-Week Check-In

Back on November 2nd, I started getting up an hour earlier with the goal of getting in 3 runs per week more consistently. As of today, I’m halfway through my seventh week of this new routine and this seems like a good point to reflect back on how things are going.

Recap: 6 AM? What? Why?

The basic idea here is that I’ll be more consistent with my running if I build it into my normal weekly routine. Prior to November 2, I didn’t have a routine. I just knew I wanted to run twice during the week each week, and once on the weekend. I was pretty good about getting in the weekend run because my weekend schedule tends to be fairly flexible, but I was pretty inconsistent at getting in the other two runs.

The problem was that I just tried to slip in those two “during the week” runs wherever they happened to fit, and quite often they just didn’t fit.

So on November 2 I took advantage of the time change to start getting up an hour earlier so that I could get my runs in first thing in the morning.

Has It Worked?

Yes. The picture up top is my exercise log. If you look carefully you’ll see 3 runs every single week. Every single workday since November 2 I’ve been up at 6 AM and either gone running or spent an hour on my Schwinn IC3 exercise bike. I’ve also gotten in a long run every weekend. I’m batting 1.000 on my running routine ever since I made this change.

How’s It Going?

It sucks. Getting up at 6 AM to run in the dark and freezing cold sucks. We just passed the winter solstice and during my last run the sun hadn’t even thought about peeking over the horizon when I finished running.

It’s also rewarding. I’m really pretty proud of the fact that I’ve been up at 6 AM and have either gone running or spent an hour spinning every workday since November 2nd. It feels pretty badass to be up and cranking out the miles when most of the folks around me are still in bed.

I also know that if I can stick to this routine now, during the darkest, coldest part of the year, that it will only get easier. In the summer, these 6 AM runs will be beautiful.

What Keeps Me Getting Up?

That’s a great question. Motivation is a really hard thing to muster. It sort of bubbles up unexpectedly and dissipates when you need it the most. If you rely on “feeling motivated” to get up and going, you won’t get much done.

So what keeps me getting up at 6 AM? There are a few different things that keep me going.

  1. I keep registering for upcoming races. Right now I’m registered for three races in 2021: one in January, one in April, and one in June. The races in January and April will be for longer distances than I’ve ever raced before, so I have to keep on top of my running if I’m going to be ready for these races.
  2. Routines have to be maintained or they fall apart. If I start skipping days my 6 AM routine will fall apart. My routine is this: I get up at 6 AM every single workday and I don’t allow myself any off days. I’ve had late nights where I didn’t get to bed until close to 1 AM and days where I didn’t feel great. Doesn’t matter. My ass is out of bed at 6 AM. Running 3x per week is important to me, I need this routine if I’m going to do that, so I get up.
  3. While it’s hard, as I’ve already mentioned this routine is intrinsically rewarding and I recognize that it will only get easier both as I get more used to it and as the sunrise gets earlier.
  4. While running in the dark and in the cold isn’t ideal, I still like it. I just flat out like running. So while it sucks to get going, once I’m moving I actually enjoy it.

While none of those factors would be enough on their own to get me out of bed at 6 AM every weekday, taken together they do the trick.

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