I am one of those friends at the gym by 4 a.m most days.

Fitting your run in even with a hectic schedule

Do you ever wake up at 6 a.m. and scroll through your social media only to see some of your fellow running friends have already completed their runs for the day? Do you wonder how they do it? How they make it work?

I am one of those friends at the gym by 4 a.m most days. Here are some of my on how to make it work even with a very busy schedule.

1. Making sleep a priority

Although it would be glorious to get 8 hours of sleep every night, this is not always possible. I usually aim for 6-7 hours so I am in bed and asleep by 9 p.m. if I have a run planned in the morning. My alarm clock is set for 3:15 a.m. (that’s right!) so I can be at the gym no later than 4 a.m.

I suggest winding down with a tea, reading a book or anything that you find relaxing at least one hour before you plan to go to sleep. On days I don’t have a planned run or workout (Tuesdays and Fridays for me), I sleep in until 5 a.m.  That extra sleep is precious to me! I should say, I don’t have children so I know a stretch of 6-7 hours of undisturbed sleep is not always feasible. However, having the intention of winding down before your set bed time is so important!

2. Be prepared

Next to sleep, I would say this is the key to success. Every night before going to bed I lay out my workout clothes and charge my Garmin so it is ready to go in the morning.

One thing I keep in mind is the type of run I will be doing. I prefer a tighter compression pant for speed work and can get away with a looser fit when doing a recovery run. I keep my running shoes in my gym bag along with my earphones, deodorant, and anti-chaffing stick.

Once my alarm goes off, I grab my workout gear and Garmin, put everything on, and head downstairs to have either a quick cup of coffee or pre-workout sports drink. I typically choose to run on an empty stomach since it is so early but sometimes I eat half a bagel or a banana for fuel.

Since it is winter, I usually allow myself a good 10 minutes for warming up the car and scraping off any ice or snow. I can’t wait for spring and summer when this step won’t be required.

3. Making the best of your run
Once I step on that treadmill, it’s time to work. I pick a song that pumps me up and start walking at a fast pace to warm up my legs. I suggest taking a bit of time to prepare a good running playlist so you don’t need to fumble with your phone during your run. While I am running, I try to remember to check my posture and form.

I typically listen to music or watch Netflix on my phone or the TV on the treadmill. The worst thing you can do is constantly watch the clock. I have an hour to complete my run from start to finish and always follow it with stretching and foam rolling – more on this in another post.

4. Getting creative
If running isn’t necessarily possible or you are short on time, something as simple as running the stairs in your office building on your lunch break or a quick exercise video on YouTube at home can get the job done as well.

We tend to get too uptight about sticking to a plan when in reality many unexpected things can pop up, sometimes making it hard to complete the intended workout or run.

On days I work from home I like to do a quick HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training) with some bodyweight exercises or some handheld dumbbells. Here are some examples:

HIIT indoors

Repeat x 2-4 times

10 jumping jacks
10 burpees
10 pushups
10 air squats
30 second plank (abs)
10 leg lifts (abs)
10 Russian twists with or without dumbell (abs)
Running up and down a flight of stairs

HIIT outdoors

Repeat 3-4 times

20 skips with a jump rope
10 bench or step ups on a curb
10 air squats
10 walking lunges
10 tricep dips on bench
Running up and down a flight of stairs

I hope these tips were helpful, the most important thing to remember is that you are doing this for you. We cannot give 100 per cent to others if we are not taking care of ourselves!


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