I am a complete and total morning person. A 6:00 am run is exciting while a 6:00 pm run is a chore, hassle, and my worst enemy. My brain ceases to function during the late afternoon; my energy levels after work are very low and I’m usually ravenous.
1. Have a plan
The worst thing you can do is expect to wake up early without a plan. Unlike post-work workouts, you don’t have the luxury of several hours of free time until you go to bed. So figure out how long it will take you to walk/run/drive to and from the gym, if you’ll be showering there, if you need to pack breakfast and a lunch, and what workout you’ll be doing.
For example, if I run in the morning, I know it’ll take me about an hour to run five miles and stretch/foam roll afterwards. I also need to be in the shower by 7:00 at the latest, so I need to be running by 6:00. However, walking to and from my neighborhood gym takes me 26 minutes (yes, I’m precise), so I need to leave very early (5:20ish) if I want to get a full workout in.
2. Prepare your clothes and gear
The last thing I have patience for during the early morning is rummaging through my dresser and closet for clothes. I try to lay everything out the night before (shirt, capris, shoes, socks, sweatshirt, iPhone arm band and headphones, Garmin, etc.) so leaving my apartment is easy and efficient.
3. Go to bed early
It’s no surprise that you’ll be exhausted during your 6:00 Bikram class if you go to sleep at midnight. I may get teased mercilessly for routinely hitting the hay before 10:00 pm, but enjoying the early morning is my priority.
3. Pick an activity you like
Waking up super early is difficult enough, but if you despise the activity dragging you out of your warm, comfortable bed, morning workouts become even more daunting. Choose workouts you love, especially when you first try to get used to waking up before dawn.
4. Be efficient
Morning workouts have no room for dillydallying. Surfing the internet between sets or delaying leaving your home are only going to hurt you. An hour is only 4% of your day and could benefit from your full concentration.
5. Make it a habit
Until 2010, I worked out after work (and before 2008, not at all). Once I switched to morning workouts, I didn’t look back. I love the energy boost and sense of accomplishment before I start my workday. Habits supposedly take three works to form, so give yourself a month before morning exercise becomes instinctual.