Saturday, February 16, 2013

Conquering Your Inner Night Owl: How to Get up Early to Work Out and Love it!

Conquering Your Inner Night Owl

How to Get up Early to Work Out and Love it!

To the people that know me best, I may seem grossly unqualified to share tips on how to get up early. As a teenager, I would often sleep through my blaring radio alarm clock, not to mention smoke alarms. Getting up early was non-existent in my teenage life, it was quite a miracle if I managed to get up in time to make it to the school bus. To say that I’ve never been a morning person is the understatement of the year.

As I got older I had more responsibilities that hinged on me getting places on time, for example, my first real job. I would somehow manage to get up on time, but would never get up one second earlier than was required. I would hit hit snooze on the alarm for an hour and a half before finally rolling out of bed. I often would negotiate with myself for more sleep.

  • If I don’t wash my hair today, I can sleep for an extra 30 minutes.
  • If I skip breakfast, I can sleep for 15 more minutes
  • If I don’t take a shower at all, that gives me an extra 15.

I’m just kidding about that last one (as far as you know).

So how did I, a self-proclaimed sleeping queen, transition from a night owl to a morning person? These are the things that helped me become a morning person who really loves it.

There are plenty of acceptable reasons to sleep in: It is your rest day, you slept considerably less than 7 hours the night before, your baby spent the better part of the night decorating the walls with vomit. “I don’t feel like it,” is not a good reason.

To Get up or Not to Get up, That is NOT the Question:


Stop thinking of getting up early as a choice. If you are anything like me, you probably have to work a day job. I haven’t found anyone yet willing to pay me a decent salary to write all day, so I will likely punch the proverbial time clock until my blog starts to make millions (read: for the rest of my adult life). There are many mornings when the alarm goes off and I think, “I don’t feel like going to work today.” But I do it anyway, because like most people, I have to. I don’t have a choice. My boss wouldn’t take too kindly with me staying home from work every time I didn’t feel like going into the office. In fact, I would probably never go at all if I only based my decision on how I felt.

I go to work because I need the money. The job requires me to arrive at a certain hour. You can apply the same principle to getting up early to work out.

Working out isn’t a choice. It is for your health. It is for your body. It is for your mental sanity. It’s for you. In fact, it might be some of the only “me time” you get all day.

Don’t Lose Sleep Over it:

Shoot for eight hours of sleep. If you are going to bed at midnight and getting up at 5 every day, you are not doing yourself any favors. Losing precious sleep to get up early to work out is counterproductive. The more rested you are, the easier it will be to get up early. One of the first things you need to do is get used to going to bed early, the exact same time every night.

Don’t Negotiate with the Enemy:

You are your own worst enemy. Only you can talk yourself out of getting out of bed. Stop the negotiating. I have learned to turn my brain on autopilot. Don’t think about it, just do it. If you listen to your thoughts at 5am, you almost will always go back to bed. Sometimes I turn on my headphones to upbeat music shortly after waking to distract from my own self-sabotaging thoughts.

Be Prepared:

As I learned in the Girl Scouts many moons ago, Thin Mints are delicious be prepared. The best way to ensure success in the mornings is to be prepared. If you are fighting dust bunnies under your bed in the dark, scrambling for your missing running shoe, all while trying unsuccessfully not to wake your spouse, you’re more likely to get frustrated and go back to bed.

To ensure that no brain power will be required in the wee hours of the morning, lay out your workout clothes the night before. I’ve even heard people say that they sleep in their workout clothes so that in the morning, they just have to slip on their shoes and they are out the door.

Plan your workout the night before. Know exactly what you want to accomplish. Write it down. Don’t rely on your 5am brain to think clearly enough to come up with a plan.

Waking up is Hard to Do:


Isn’t that a song? Waking Up is Hard to Do? Oh no, wait, that is breaking up. Well, getting up is hard too. Getting up out of bed is usually the hardest part. Once I’m up, I usually good enough to keep going. Try setting the alarm clock in another room so that when it goes off, you have no choice but to get up and turn it off. Sometimes hubby has to give me a gentle nudge under the covers, but I have to get up out of bed and turn the alarm off. You’re up.You might as well stay up. Don’t talk yourself out of it.

If You Snooze, You Lose:


I was the snoozing queen until I got married. Turns out hubby didn’t really like waking up every nine minutes for no apparent reason, who knew? That snooze button isn’t helping. You will never be more rested from nine more minutes of sleep. The interrupted sleep actually makes it worse. Just get up.

Don’t Be a Feign for Caffeine:


I know what you must be thinking, “You want me to get up early and give up caffeine? This is crazy talk!” Hear me out.

You know that feeling you get when you first wake up? You're exhausted, You have no energy, you’re achy, you kind of feel like a truck hit you? I know it well. I was having so much trouble getting up in the morning, even after 7-8 hours of well-rested sleep. Someone suggested that I give up caffeine, because sometimes that tired feeling is actually caffeine withdrawal. Once you have your coffee you feel better, but if you didn’t drink the coffee in the first place, you wouldn’t need it to feel better, because you would already feel great.

It was amazing, once I switched to decaf I stopped having those morning withdrawals, I woke up feeling well-rested and great almost every morning. Don’t knock it until you try it. Give it a couple of weeks and see if it makes a difference for you.

If not, drink and your coffee and go. 

Love it or Leave it:


I am willing to bet that most kids don’t have any trouble waking up super early on Christmas morning. They are genuinely excited about starting their day. I’m not suggesting that the gym is like Christmas morning to an 8 year old, I’m just saying that it is all perspective. If you are generally happy to get up and do something you enjoy, you are more likely to do it.

Do you dread the treadmill? Well, by no means should you drag yourself out of bed everyday to run for an hour on the treadmill, especially not in the beginning while you are still adjusting. Find something that you genuinely enjoy to do while you are making the transition into an early bird.

Misery Loves Company:


The awesome ladies of CrossFit SuperSport in North Richland Hills (not me)

Getting up in the morning doesn’t have to be miserable, but if you are going to be miserable, it is better to do it with good company. I have found that having an early morning running partner got me up and going every time. It is not right, but we often feel more accountable to others than we do ourselves. My running partner and I had a no-texting rule. This meant if one of us decided to sleep in, we were not allowed to text the other one to tell them we weren’t coming, as to not influence their own choice. Turns out that the very thought of leaving my friend out there wondering if I would show up or not was enough for me to never miss a workout. I always went, even when I really didn’t want to go.

If you don’t have a friend crazy enough motivated enough, to want to get up before the sun to work out, try joining a morning spin class, boot camp, or CrossFit box. Other members and trainers will keep you accountable, plus nothing is more motivating than knowing that if you sleep in and miss a class you are flushing perfectly good money down the toilet.

Having an accountability partner works too. In my short time writing this blog, I have learned the internet fitness community is a vast place of liked-minded supportive men and women. Find an online friend and promise to text or email each other early in the morning confirming you are up and ready to work out, then email again when you are done. Sometimes just having someone to brag to report to is enough to get you going.

Fake it ‘til You Make it:

You hate the mornings? Keep telling yourself that and you it will always be hard for you. The trick is to lie to yourself. Tell yourself how much you love to work out in the morning. Get an index card and try writing down some positive thoughts, even if you don’t believe them at first.

  • I love to get up early to work out.
  • Morning workouts set the tone for my whole day.
  • I totally rock!
  • While most people are sleeping, I am making myself a better person, inside and out.
  • I love the time to myself in the mornings.
  • I can’t wait to get my workout started today.
  • I will feel so amazing when I am done.

Put your index card by your alarm clock. When the alarm goes off, read your positive thoughts, even say them out loud. Since I can’t rely on my memory at 5am to remember these positive thoughts, it helps to have them written down. I also read them before I go to bed. Your mind believes what you tell it, so if you tell yourself you are tired, and miserable, and you hate morning workouts, you will believe it. If you tell yourself repeatedly that you love morning workouts, you also eventually will believe it. So much of this is a mental battle. It may sound a little hokey, but it really worked for me.

Consistency is Key:

At first it might be hard while you are adjusting, but the key here is consistency. Make an effort to go to bed at the same time every night. Get up the same time each morning, even if you are not working out. Maybe Thursday is your rest day, stay on schedule by getting up early anyway and getting a head start on your day. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish while everyone else is sleeping. You could spend the time to get caught up on personal bills, paperwork, a cleaning project, school assignment, or a blog post. Maybe you just want to spend some alone time reading, relaxing, or meditating before the kids get up. The idea is that you get used to the routine of getting up early, even when it is not to work out. The more routine it is, the easier it becomes.

Even if it is not a scheduled rest day, tell yourself that even if you don’t workout, you still have to get up. Then the choice of getting up or not is already made. Even if you don’t work out, you can still get up and be productive. Chances are once you are up, you will get to the gym after all.

Remember the 99% Rule:

I can tell you from experience that no matter how crappy I feel when I get out of bed, 99% of the time I feel better once I get to the gym. 100% of the time, when it is over, I am glad I did it. That feeling you get after completing a morning workout is way better than the feeling you get from sleeping in an extra hour.

Just getting there is half the battle. Tell yourself you can quit after 15 minutes if you are not feeling it, most of the time once you get going, you will be fine. What about those off days, where you really do want to quit after 15 minutes? Sit in the sauna or go home and read a good book. Don't be too hard on yourself, as these days are likely few and far between, and a 15 minute workout is still better than a 0 minute workout.

Are you ready to do this? What time is your alarm set for tomorrow? Do you have any tips to share?

Keep Running,


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  1. This blog got me motivated to get up!! My fitness hasn't been the same since :)

  2. Lea, this is great! My alarm clock will be set for about 5:30 tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to some weights and an attempt at intervals to redeem today's crappy run.

    Thanks so much, and have an awesome Sunday!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Let's do this! for making me realize I don't have to justify why I want to get up, I just have to DO IT! Ealry morning run it is then! Xx

  5. I'm the self proclaimed queen of the morning workout. 5:00 a.m. is my favorite time!

    Great tips!

  6. I feel like I could've written this post! Actually, I did write a post last year around this time that was kind of similar. I do not like getting up early, but I realized that the more I did it, the more my body adjusted to waking up early. Now, even on the weekends, I'm usually awake by 8. College me who wasn't waking up until 12 or 1 pm would be horrified at current me:)

  7. These are great tips! I hear ya on snooze. I know I have to jump up as soon as my alarm goes off or I am just going to make things worse. My husband on the other

  8. Amazing advice! I love love love this post. I need help on going to bed earlier though :(

  9. Love this! I NEED to start getting up early to run. I'm going to start scheduling out my days to include morning runs

  10. This is a good post for just about anyone. I consider myself a morning person but in the Winter time I always try to talk myself into staying under the warm covers as long as possible.

  11. I gave up caffeine over a year ago and have been SO much happier with natural energy sources that don't mess me up!

    1. It really was the ONE thing that made a HUGE difference in my success.

  12. Such great tips! I'm now in the habit of getting up at the same time every day of the week. It makes such a difference now that I'm keeping a consistent bedtime and wake up time. Sure, getting up before 6 every day is early but now I'm used to it!

  13. I'm totally the snooze queen. I HATE getting up in the mornings, but I've always wanted to be a morning person. These are such great things to keep in mind when you're not feeling the urgency to get up and go!

  14. Fake it til you make it usually works for me! My daughter has forced me to be somewhat of a morning person (no alarm clock needed here!) but I've been learning to get up earlier and get my workout in first. I love the energy it gives me for the rest of the day!

  15. I needed to read this today. I've decided to start regularly running again by training for a 10K. Getting the workouts in in the mornings is going to be my best bet for consistency. Thanks for sharing all these great tips!

  16. This is awesome. I keep telling myself I will someday train my brain to become more of a morning person so I can get my workout out of the way. More motivation to try!! (Harder)

  17. I'm definitely an early morning workout type of person. I do crossfit and that means I need to get up AT LEAST an hour before my workout time so that I can drink a little bit of coffee and my body is ready for what I'm about to do to it! I am also one of those people that when my alarm goes off I'm up. I have never pressed the snooze button. I also leave my clothes out the day before so I get up and put it on that way there is no backing out!

  18. Love this!!! SUCH a motivating and true post! Ill set my alarm for 5, and 9 times outta 10, I talk myself out of waking up :-( I'm going to try your tips! Hope it'll get me bright eyed and ready to sweat before sunrise!

  19. OK, I have wanted to start getting up early again. I used to but then have slowly slipped towards being a night owl. I know that it's largely habit and that I just need to start going to be bed earlier. For me, nighttime is one of the few times that I have some peace and quiet in the house and actually can get some work done. Going to keep trying and fake it till I make it!!

  20. It was hard for me to set that alarm for 4:30 but now I do that 2x week to run 5 miles and Saturday is usually 5:00-6:00am to run. Once I'm up I'm good. It's easy to talk me out of it, but I know I have friends waiting on me so I go!

  21. I do it on weekends, but on weekdays I would have to get up at like 4am before work so it doesn't happen. However, I have found that for early weekend runs having a buddy is the best for me.

  22. What an absolutely fantastic blog post! Really great tips on waking up early. I try to get up at 5am M-F, but sometimes I sleep in until 6 and skip the workout. *shrug*

  23. "As I learned in the Girl Scouts many moons ago, Thin Mints are delicious. "

    Loved it :)

  24. I've been really struggling with actually running in the morning lately. I've been OK at getting up but it's that next bit of motivation to get out there! I like the idea of a card by the alarm ready to remind me all the reasons why in the morning.
    Oh, and "Waking up is hard to do" is a line in a Sum 41 song!


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