On Morning Workouts

In college, I did occasionally do early morning workouts. In college, I defined ‘early morning’ as anytime before breakfast at the dining center ended: 10AM.

In grad school, I was part of an informal swim team that swam early two times a week. ‘Early’ then was defined as anything that happened before 8AM.

It turns out, the real world starts turning every day at 8AM, whether you are ready or not. So if one wanted to get a jump start on the day, it has to happen before 8.

Well, before 7:30, on account of the commute and traffic.

Well, before 7 because one has to be presentable and cannot simply roll into the office with bed head and sleep in the eyes.

So really, before 6:45 since a girl’s gotta eat breakfast.

A few weeks ago, I tried going to the gym before going to work and it went a little something like this:

5:20: Alarm #1 goes off. It is some awful beeping that even annoys the cat. Snooze.

5:23: Alarm #2 goes off– from the bathroom. Sounds like a rooster and gets progressively louder.

[There is a lot of shuffling about, trying to make sure I remember a ‘regular bra’ for work, and reaching under the refrigerator for my headphones.]

5:45: Out the door.

5:52: Realize my lunch (and breakfast) are not in the seat next to me. Or in the backseat. They are, in fact, still on the kitchen table.

5:52: Make a sad face about that.

6:02: Get to the gym. Get on a dreadmill and attempt to battle through a 27 minute run. Symptoms include: foggyheadedness (it’s a word), general displeasure, snarkiness, fatigue, sadness (about the lunch still), irkfulness (also a word), an overall feeling that this is the worst place on the planet to be.

6:21: Quit. Increase foul mood because in addition to the above-listed symptoms, now I am a quitter too.

6:22: Do some half-hearted sit ups and be angry the whole time.

6:26: Sit on the yoga mat in a dark cloud of malaise.

6:28: Go back to the women’s locker room, which is much akin to a henhouse. There is nothing worse for a bad mood than strangers that are loud and disorganized (i.e. I like me, but I can’t stand a room full of mes). I actually don’t want to listen to you scream at a woman 10 feet away about how “Benny did just the cutest thing at school.” It doesn’t sound cute at all. And yes, super-naked woman wondering around aimlessly, I do mind if you get real close to me and then reach across me to get some lotion. If you are super-naked, my personal bubble is super-bigger than that.

By the time I make it through all of that, I head to work in a miserable mood. I am tired, hungry, feeling a bit violated by super-naked woman, and I had a bad workout. Lame.

I had pretty much decided I was not a morning workout kinda gal. Even though I so wanted to be. I wanted to be that peppy, wide awake coworker who bounced into the office promptly at 8 and was all “I had the best 6 miles run this morning! And then I had this amazing homemade oatmeal with flaxseed and organic bananas! And while I was listening to NPR on the way in, I also stopped along the side of the road and save a family of panda bears!”

I am not her. I am all “I was running late, but found this sorta brown, pretty mushy banana in the car from a few days ago and the only exercise I got this morning was stepping in and out of the shower. I have no idea whether or not my socks match but I just dare you to say anything about it before I have finished this mega-gulp of hot coffee.”

But guys, real life happens. And a lot of real life happens after work, and takes up most/all of the evening. And I always told myself I would find a way to blend workouts into my real life– to fold it in amongst hanging out with friends, maintaining a strong relationship with my love, trying new things, etc.

Sometimes the only time to get to the gym is in the morning.

So today, I retried. And I was successful! I think there were many things that came together to create a perfect storm of success: Aaron met me there, so I had to be accountable. My lunch was safely and secured in the car. I left my headphones on for as long as possible in the locker room and just pretended that lady wasn’t ultra-naked and discussing her ladyparts in uncomfortably graphic detail.

Maybe most importantly, I pre-planned a workout that included running but also had structure, balance, and a fast pace. Because you know what’s fun about running on a dreadmill for 40 minutes? The three minutes you day dream about running outside. That’s it.

I am happy I tried again, because right now, at the midday, I am totally reaping the benefits of the morning workout: I am alert and in a good mood, I am finding it easy to focus, I am not panicked about when I can squeeze in a workout today or later this week.

So, what it took me a long time to say is this: If you fail at something once, don’t give up. But don’t repeat the same thing, or you will fail a second time. Change is good, balance is best, and a crummy workout is still better than no work out at all.

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