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As I sit here, yet again, with the clock ticking towards midnight, I think about the workout I won’t be doing at 0’dark thirty in the morning. I’d like to pretend that I’ll get up early and run, but we all know that won’t happen. What will likely happen is that I will get up at the last possible moment to get my older kid ready for school. Then, I’ll take the younger one to school, usually in mismatched clothes and with my hair uncombed (yeah, I’m that mom) and then return to the house. Where I will drink coffee and eat breakfast and start some laundry. THEN (and only then) I will consider heading out for a run.
I’m a night owl. I’ve been one since I was a child. I remember still being awake in my bed most nights when my parents would check on me on their way to bed. I can’t tell you how many nights of my life I’ve been up past midnight, but I’m pretty sure the number is higher than 50%. (And I won’t tell you how many all nighter’s I’ve done. Yes, I was made to run Ragnar, why do you ask?)
This makes it really hard to get up early. Other than races and long runs for my only fall marathon (MCM in 2008), I have never gotten up early to work out.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve tried. But I’m not a “hit the ground running” kind of person in the morning. (Pun intended.) I need an hour at least to get from bed to activity of any sort. When you think about the fact that my husband leaves for work at 6:30am and back that time up for wake up time, work out time, etc… Yeah, we’re talking about a 4:30am wakeup call.
(I don’t need a lot of sleep, but even I need more than 4 hours.)
Which leaves me having to workout later in the day. All the studies say that you are much more likely to work out if you do it first thing. I’m a librarian. I could get you the statistics, but that would take effort. Anyways, it’s true. Otherwise, life gets in the way.
So, why do I still work out later in the day and how do I make sure it happens?
Why? Honestly, it makes me unhappy to try to shift my body clock and work out early. And since exercise is my happy, it’s not worth it to me.
So how do I make sure it happens?
- I evaluate each week on Sunday night and figure out which days will work best for which workouts. I have a general idea in my head of what I’d like to accomplish and I fit it into the week.
- Each morning, while I’m drinking my coffee and waking up, I look at my schedule and reconfirm my plan.
- I don’t shower until after I get my workout in. (I’m absolutely sure the moms at my kids’ school love this. Not.)
- I dress in workout clothes from the moment I get up. (I work from home, so I have that flexibility. When I worked in an office, I took my clothes and worked out during lunch some days).
- Prioritize! Prioritize! Prioritize! I’m a better wife, mother, and employee when I’m working out on a regular basis and everyone around me knows that.
- Accept that shorter is better than nothing. If I’m really missing my workout, I’ll try to squeeze in a quick HIIT or Tabata workout.
Sometimes, I have to cut myself some slack. Sometimes, things just don’t go as planned. And that’s ok.
I just remind myself that a few missed days are not the first steps down the road towards couch potato.
(A version of this post first appeared as a guest post on Carla Birnberg’s page.)