By Christopher Cudworth
I feel fortunate to have always been an early riser. Between my penchant for studying birds, which is best done in the early hours of day, and my love of running and riding, getting up before 6:00 a.m (Fitz and the Tantrums has a different problem) has never been a problem.
But I’ve met my match in terms of early rising. The woman I date gets up at 4:30 a few times each week to swim. She’s a good swimmer, so that helps. Learning to swim as I am currently doing does not provide so much incentive. Slowly I’m learning to love the pool as much as the bike and the road. It balances you. Strengthens your shoulders and back. Swimming is a good thing. The shock of potentially cold water in an early morning swim? Not so sweet.
I’m so impressed with how my gal friend does not let things like this seem to bother her. Come Saturday morning we meet up for runs and sure, the wind may be blowing cold like hell has frozen over and Satan’s got nothing else to do, yet we take off running in the early dawn and even find ways to laugh about how sucky the weather can be.
It helps that’s she’s organized. Getting out the door to run or ride early in the morning takes prep. Because if you don’t put your clothes out the night before, the possibility that you will not find a key gear component is very real. Precious minutes pass by. Then you are forced to compromise on the distance you planned to run in order to get showered and out the door to work on time.
The gear problem in the early morning is even worse with cycling. For one thing, half the clothing I wear is black or some combination of black and other colors. It all mixes together in the drawer if you don’t sort it out ahead of time. Finding black arm warmers in the dark at dawn is ridiculous hard. To make matters worse, they cling to everything else in the drawer. Don’t go there. Find ways to organize your gear and be disciplined about it. It’s a constant struggle for me, but I’m making it work.
It truly is important to make organization your priority before climbing into bed. That means you need to have a firm training plan in mind before resting your brain with sleep.
If you do that motivation will be in place well before your smartphone makes that annoying noise, whatever it is you choose, at 5:45 a.m. when the light looks tired outside and you feel so tired inside.
So here’s the phrase you need to keep in mind: Training is hard. You don’t need to make it harder by putting off for tomorrow what you can do to prepare today. Organization commitment is the key to your success.
That’s one of the tarsnakes of running, riding and swimming. We do these activities for fun, but in order to get better at them we need to be disciplined, organized and committed to the task.
When 6:00 a.m. comes around
Because when 6:00 comes around and you need to get out the door, your motivation will be affirmed when the clothes and gear seem to fly on your body with little effort. Once you’re out the door and moving, you can adapt or adopt your training to what the day presents. Need an extra layer under the jacket? That’s something you should put out as well the night before, just in case.
There are always surprises, but checking the weather the night before you go to bed is so easy now. Smart apps can tell you everything right through your smartphone. No need to wait around for 10:23 for a weatherperson who spends more time on the snow in Cleveland than the conditions in your hometown.
You want to get out there and run. Or ride. Or head to the pool and swim.
So take the pressure off yourself at 6:00 a.m. Get organized and be a better athlete. It’s that simple.