Photograph by Yuliya Harbachova
My first early morning run ever and a zillion mistakes.
I know I know, how is it possible? Well it is, I have been running for the last seven years nonstop, and I never had to run during the morning, and I mean from 4 to 6 a.m. thus the word early!
Why did I start doing them now? Well because that’s what my training schedule says (smile). No seriously that’s what my training schedule says because I am planning on running a 50k race in May and apparently I need to accustom my body to extreme situations is something that will be handy in a 50k race.
I did everything wrong because people forget, they assume they know things, and for me running since 2010 I allow myself to think that I am an experienced runner.
Well, I am at some point but early morning running sessions I am as green as lettuce.
The only thing I did right was not forgetting to start my Strava application on my mobile, so I did manage somehow to record my whole run from start to finish.
I did not prepare my clothes the night or day before, so when I woke up, I would have it available and handy thus saving time.
I did not prepare my hydration and nutrition belt, so I didn’t have any water with me or energy gels. Even if you run is going to be short in length or short in time I always prefer to have water and nutrition with me you just never know what might happen and what you might need.
I did bring my phone with me, so that’s one plus for me (smile). I didn’t have a pre-workout snack just water, and I know the importance of that, I am reading Brendan Brazier’s book Thrive Fitness again, so I am going o follow and make some of his snacks the guy is amazing.
Also during the run as I said no gels or another kind of nutrition and after the run I was running late to catch the bus, so I even forgot to drink water, and I knew I was slightly dehydrated from the dark yellow color of my urine!
But hey now I know, next early morning run will be better prepared.
I did wear enough layers of clothing, I had a t-shirt underneath and my long sleeve on top, I had warm woolen gloves and a woolen hat, so I felt pretty much warm while I was running, my socks were long and warm. Also, I had long running pants.
Another mistake I did, and I shouldn’t have done was that I did not prepare what I was going to wear and carry with me the night before the run.
As a result, when I woke up, I lost precious time looking and trying to figure out what to wear which nutritional belt to bring with me, water, electrolytes, and so on.
I didn’t check what kind of temperatures they will be outside, the weather also I did not have scout first for a route, so I didn’t know if there was going to be sufficient lighting.
I did not make sure my head light was 100% charged.
In the chaos of all these unorganized and unprepared situation I did manage to go out have my run enjoy it and come back having done my first early run and coming home wiser.
From this workout, I learned a lot, first, if you are doing an early run make sure you sleep early the previous day and have at least 7 hours of sleep..
Your last meal should be at least until 8 p.m. anything after that you will have your digestion interfering with your sleep.
Half an hour before you have programmed to go to sleep make sure you took your bath or shower did your teeth and try to go into a room (living room, preferably your bedroom) where the lighting will not be intense any distractions like radio or TV on or computer. You need to do this, so the body will get the message that you are done for the day, and you are going to bed.
I started to appreciate going early to bed and waking early; I feel more rested and more energized. Of course, I am still single and no kids to hover over me, but I imagine when I will have kids I will do my best to go as early as I can to bed.
So if you are planning on doing on an early run sleep early, that’s one of the things I did right (smile). 9:30 p.m. I was in bed.
Another item I omitted was that I didn’t have a pre-race meal, during the race and post-race meal, zilch, nada.
Pre-race meal especially after you woke up is important because your glycogen stores are about 50% depleted because of the repairs and maintenance your body did during sleep, so a nice pre –race snack will do wonders for your depleted glycogen stores both for your liver and muscles.
Of course, there are people that they run on an empty stomach thinking that will burn more fat than glycogen, I don’t know about that, but it’s on my to learn list.
During the race meal, I didn’t prepare anything because the distance was short, I was planning to do 4 miles I end up doing almost 6 miles but even with 6 miles done I didn’t felt like having an energy boost, I had enough glycogen stored for about 55 minutes of running.
Post-race meal though is important, and I did a shake that had rice protein (about 10grams) chlorella (about 10grams) which is a seaweed packed with protein, maca powder (potato that grows mostly in Peru in the Andes). Maca it’s an adaptive substance, helps you deal with stress physical and psychological and helps you adapt better to challenging situations. Agave nectar (I swear it tastes like honey) always organic and two small sized bananas for some glucose.
It was night, and I didn’t check the lighting situation of the route I was going to follow, so I was running without knowing pretty much anything about the surroundings.
I took my head light with me which was a life saver where at some point and for about a mile there was no light what so ever.
Another thing I forgot to take with me was a phosphorescent vest so incoming cars would see me from a distance.
The cool thing about my head light is that it has a red light so that’s something I can use so drivers might see me in time and not run me over.
I was a good boy, and I was running on the right side of the road so I could see the cars that were coming and the cars that were coming behind me were on the other side of the road, so that tactic saved my life in many cases.
Now in case you are wondering, here in Cyprus because the island was once part of the British Empire we drive like they do in England. The wheel of the car is on the right side of the car, and we drive in the left lane as opposite with the pretty much the rest of the world!
If you are using a bicycle on the other hand because a bike is considered a transportation medium, you should use the lane the cars use like if you were driving a car.
As waking up in concern when I was younger I was not an early rising person at all maybe because I was eating junk food, I was a chain smoker for 16 years and overweight!
Now I wake up a few minutes before my alarm clock starts to ring or if it rings I don’t get upset and angry I am relaxed and eager to start the day.
If you are not a morning person, then my advice is to situate your alarm clock in the next room for two main reasons (this is what I do by the way). The first reason, so you won’t throw the clock on the wall because you are upset or because you are still sleeping, and second reason by putting the clock in the next room for it to stop you must get out of the bed walk a few meters. Hopefully, this little exercise will be enough to wake you up.
Try and have one of the traditional alarm clocks with not much technology in it those are the best, aim for battery ones, do not use with electrical power, the power might cut off, and then you be waking up later than programmed.
Do not use your mobile phone as an alarm clock all t hat radiation is not good for you, also wireless devices while you sleep is better to switch them off.
Always have some window slightly open, so fresh air will come into the room you sleep, it doesn’t matter if it’s freezing outside, try to have a source of fresh air during your sleep. If you are waking up with stuffed nose every morning, then I bet you are because of the lack of fresh air while you were sleeping,
A magnificent article on how to wake up in the morning more efficiently by Charlie entitled:
For me to be able to wake up early now in the morning and do the exercise I started doing is something of a miracle, eight years ago when I was a chain smoker, I would never think of that, this shows how you can change yourself if you change your way of thinking.
Lessons I learned about what smoking did to me and what I was which was a drug junkie (nicotine addict)
All these are lessons that lead me to my current lifestyle, and this is the secret I want to share with you, if you want to change, you must first change your way of thinking, and everything else will follow to the direction you think you will accomplish your goals.
Set your goals, commit and manage your time efficiently and you will see changes in you in all aspects of your life.
So to recap:
When you have an early training make sure you do the following:
- Check the weather, so you know what to wear
- Prepare your gear (shoes, clothes, hydration, snacks, head light, watch, mobile phone, ) from the night before, so you won’t lose time figuring out in the morning what to wear.
- Go to bed early the previous day, so you wake up early rested and energized the next day, aim for 7 hours at least.
- Have a pre-race snack depending on the distance you are going to cover.
- If you are running long distance pack with you a snack (energy gels, fruit) so you eat it during the run.
- Have a post-run snack, preferably with lots of protein in it, so you repair and make your muscles stronger.
- Check the route you are going to run for adequate lighting, wear a phosphorescent vest, or stripes so that cars will see you.
- Use common sense and use the lane where you can see the cars coming.
Well, that was my wisdom derived from my mistakes of my first ever early morning run, I am sure next time I be better prepared. The secret is to learn from your mistakes and not to repeat them.
After this experience and I am sure much more that will follow I will have to add a few more tips to my book 42 tips that will make you a better runner shortly.