The 5am Project

Since my last blog post about the need and desire to run in the morning, I have had moderate success. It's been a little under 4 weeks and I have been working at getting up at 5am or thereabouts so that I can get all my workouts done before the work day (or really, the heat right now) drags me down. My partner, whose idea the 5am Project was, has had less success. He downloaded an alarm app that is supposed to ease him to wake up but it didn't really work that well. He just generally sleeps through it.

Our attempts are also impacted by our senior dog who nearly always needs to go outside in the middle of the night. He stands by the door and whimpers, the kind of pathetic whimper that breaks your heart. I have never been able to sleep through it. My other dog, rarely needs to pee at night but will of course get up and bounce around outside while our other dog does his business. Continuously broken sleep is not conducive to early morning exercise plans. Nor are Mondays. Early on in this process, I found myself falling asleep at work. This, was of course not the intended outcome of this plan. The blame for my daytime tiredness does not rest solely at the feet of the 5am Project. It is compounded by not having a window, fresh air, or a standing desk in my new office. All things I was used to in my previous job. I had no idea that not having those elements in the workplace would have such an impact on my energy levels. I have seen a noticeable decline in my energy levels throughout the day. Combined with the earlier than usual mornings, midday nap time began knocking loudly on my door. 

However, I have persevered with my plan. Last week, as the temperatures rose, I was deeply thankful I pushed through the snooze button and got my runs done early. I completed one after an open water swim and the other two I forced myself to get up, stay up, and go out. I still have not figured out a way to get up and run immediately, and take about 60 minutes acclimation time before heading out the door. But, I am heading out the door and in the right direction. It feels good to be done for the day before 9am; I feel so accomplished. I knew I would and this is one of the primary reasons coaches and runners alike argue athletes should workout in the morning. 

I don't have any profound wisdom to share from this journey so far, other than to say it has been hard. When I know I am going to get up early, I stress about getting to bed earlier, and then have trouble falling asleep, my desire to hear my alarm clock infiltrates my dreams as anxiety. I infrequently sleep through an alarm, so there is rationally no reason to think I would start to do so now, yet the fear is there and I let it win sometimes. When it wins, my nights are fragmented dream/wake states that leave me feeling groggy and un-rested when the sun comes up. I know, or at least hope, I will find my rhythm and over time will adjust. I encourage you to try this too. I know it can be done by folks who have kids and folks who do not. I have read enough success stories to know that people with wide and varying commitments can pull this off. It is just a case of being thoughtful and efficient with the time you have and making choices that support the lifestyle change. Alarms, dogs, heat and any number of things can derail your plans. They may even appear to be conspiring against you, as though your inner night owl is throwing road block after road block your way in defiance of your new early night, early to rise routine. The key is not to let the set backs derail all plans, present and future. One poor night's sleep should not lead us each to the conclusion that morning running or exercise isn't worth the effort. When faced with a 6am 60 degree run vs a 6pm 90 degree run, I think the choice is pretty clear.