This blog is a reminder to myself. A pep talk in an attempt to reduce the thousands of excuses that fly through my head when the alarm goes off on a dark cold winter morning and I struggle to make the transition from cosy warm bed to running in the dark.
I’m missing the light. Training in the dark is beginning to get to me and my motivation to run in the mornings is seriously low. Bed is often winning.
But I know that the battle is purely in my mind – a mental tug of war I play every morning…
But I know that the battle is purely in my mind – a mental tug of war I play every morning, when my good intentions are almost talked round by the other voice in my head saying “go back to sleep…just another hour.” And I know from experience that if I can ignore this voice, get out the front door and just run then my day is better; I’m more focussed, determined, happy and calm. And filled with a sense of achievement at having done something before breakfast.
So in trying to work out a way forward to enhance my enthusiasm for dark and early miles, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve overcome this mental block in the past and what I can do going forward. Below are some thoughts. If you’re struggling with the morning warm bed battle as well, then hopefully some of them might be useful.
Thoughts on how to overcome the morning battle with a warm bed:
- Plan in advance. Lie all your clothes out the night before (remember cosy layers that you can take off if you get too hot) and have a route in your head. That way when the alarm goes off you don’t need to think about anything but just get up and go. It’s also worth getting a decent head torch if you’re running away from streetlights, and high visibility clothing so you can be seen. Obviously be safe, carry your phone and let someone know where you’re going.
- Make yourself accountable. Find a running buddy who is up for the early start. You’ll be more inclined to get out and run if you agree to meet someone. If you don’t have anyone to go with, you can still make yourself accountable by agreeing with a pal that you’ll both run in the morning. Keep each other motivated!
- Have a goal and visualise it. Maybe it’s a race you’re training for or just that you want to be able to run a set distance or time. Whatever it is, visualise it vividly in your mind. Imagine yourself smashing that goal and the feelings of pride and happiness that comes with the achievement. Thinking about this in the morning will help give you that extra bit of motivation to get out of bed and work towards your vision. I also find that keeping track of weekly mileage (e.g. via Strava) and setting myself a weekly goal is a great way motivator to get up in the morning and get those miles done!
- Remember how good it feels after. That feeling when you’re back home after a run – blood and endorphins pumping round your body – having achieved something before breakfast. And how good breakfast tastes! Just remember that when you’re debating whether to get up or not. Plus, if you get your run done in the morning then you’re off the hook for the rest of the day.
- Trick yourself. Even if you’re tired when you wake up, say to yourself that you’ll just run around the block. This might be enough to trick your mind into get you out of bed – thinking “only 5 mins of running – I can do that!” Chances are when you’re actually out you’ll run further.
- Run your commute. If you can run the whole way to work then great. But if not, there may be options to park the car a bit further away and run the last bit. Or get off a few tube/bus/train stops earlier and run the rest. Running your commute is a great way to fit running into your morning routine without taking up too much extra time.
- Set your body up right. Get enough sleep and drink enough water the day before. If you’re low on energy in the mornings, it can sometimes help to have a very light snack before you run. I often take a few bites of dried fruit which gives my body the boost it needs.
- Remember that summer fitness = winter training. I really have to keep reminding myself of this. All the miles and hours that you put in during the long dark winter months will pay off when summer appears. You’ll be strong, fit and healthy – perfect for being able to maximise the longer summer days.
And most importantly:
Be kind to yourself. It’s great to set running goals and get out and smash them. But don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. Celebrate the fact that you got up and out and don’t push it if you’re body isn’t up to it.