Early morning training – my secret to finding time for marathon training

Early morning training

I wasn’t a morning person until one completely packed day that changed my thinking. I knew I would feel very stressed during the day, but there was virtually no time to take a rest or squeeze in a workout. The only option for me was to have an early morning training before all the extravaganza begins.

I remember waking up just after 4, having a quick half-asleep breakfast and taking my kayak at the crack of dawn for a 1.5-hour workout. It was very exciting, but I was still nervous if I have enough time for everything that day.

The moment I started my workout everything started to change. Suddenly, all the haste started to subside and slowly I became very calm. There were not many things rushing through my head at that moment. I was able to appreciate the beauty of the nature at that point. It was pure joy.

The best things was that I was able to carry that feeling with me throughout the day. I maintained peace, good sense of humor and generally I was in a very good mood.

I came a long way since that day. Though still exciting, waking up early is no longer a problem for me. And early morning training has become a frequent practice of mine.

Early morning training

It turns out many athletes and famous people schedule their workouts early in the morning. For some it’s a time management practice, others feel they have more energy that early in the day. There also seems to be a growing number of people (myself included) who see it as a time for meditation and brainstorming.

It’s when brain is least cluttered and most creative ideas and outside-the-box solutions pop up. And I can totally relate to that. 

If my brain is a train and thoughts are people, then by the end of the day I am having a packed Indian train steaming through my head. 

Passengers would even sit at the top of it just to get a place.

Upon waking up, however, it’s more like the morning of January 1. Totally empty and nobody in sight.

A great bonus is that early in the morning everyone is asleep and nobody can bother you. It’s like spending time with yourself and accomplishing everything that you don’t have time for during the day. There is always a high chance that something will come up in the afternoon and good practices are usually the first ones to go. Early morning training eliminates that.

The reason why I was able to maintain energy during that stressful day is because I had nothing more planned for the evening. I did not feel bad about missing what I planned, because I didn’t miss it.

The list of good stuff can go on and on…

My early morning training tips

We’ve established, I was not a morning person. I would stay up late and wake up just 40 minutes before I had to leave. 

Over time, though, I re-considered my habits, changed them and now can’t wait to jump out of bed before dawn. I would even go as far as saying it’s the most valuable practice I do to stay productive.

Here are some of the habits that helped me get going:

  • The single most important thing to have a sustainable schedule is to go to sleep early. Subtract 7-8 hours of sleep from when you plan to wake up and make it a priority to go to sleep no later than that
  • Prepare all you need the night before and have a routine for the first 30 minutes upon waking up. This includes what you will wear for the workout. It takes time for the brain to power on, so having a plan lets you keep yourself on track when brain is still in standby mode
  • Don’t plan an intense workout right upon waking up. Factor in at least 1.5 hours to eat a proper breakfast and digest the food. Otherwise, stick to low heart rate training
  • Drink plenty of water and have a proper nutritious breakfast at the ready once you complete workout. After 7-8 hours of fasting and a workout your body will demand food. Remember that you probably won’t need a serious dinner and reward yourself. This is the time to go bananas

My marathon training progress

Another week of solid training is done and what a week it was. It’s good to be back to extensive training and spend more time outside. 

I had 13 hours of training this week which I haven’t done in a while. Apart from running, I did 2 strength training sessions, 3 morning swims, went kayaking and sprinkled it with some cycling commute on top. 

It’s challenging to include so much training into a normal work regime to say the least. I do most of the workouts in the morning and during the weekends to keep my evenings as free as possible. However, with so many hours of training I just have to 2 workouts a day sometimes.

My training is still heavily in the aerobic zone with very only small fraction of speed intervals. For me it’s more important to have a solid aerobic base and muscles that can sustain prolonged hours of exercise. Long races like marathon have to be done at lower intensity, so most of the training has be focused on improving running efficiency and maintaining a steady pace.

I do include an occasional 10K steady run, or a 1K interval session at 70-80% once a week to maintain the speed I worked on before my race a week ago. It’s about time now to start training the ability to run fast and far.

Lately I started to feel that my legs are getting tighter from running every day, which is why I’m adding more swimming and kayaking to take some stress away from lower body. I had a couple of intense weeks recently, so I’ll need to reduce the intensity during the next week to allow the muscles to recover faster

Until then, happy training!

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