Is 5:30am really that bad?

jogging-morn

It’s so easy to say “I’m not a morning person” I know because I said it, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly! I had myself believing it. I read a lot of autobiographies – I like to read about interesting people. They are not always about successful billionaires although many of the rags to riches stories do hold my attention, many are about those who face challenges or simply do things I think are cool. Or people who have created something, a movement, project, invention. All are driven by a unique sense of purpose which you may think is uncommon yet all these people I define as successful do the same thing. They are successful because they move themselves, they do what makes them passionate and also 99% of them get up early in the morning.

However they do it in balance – they are not burning the candle at both ends and if they do its only for short periods of time. No they simply have a wellness routine that allows them to take advantage of time that us mere mortals spend in bed. Trust me I love my bed, I love sleep, I love that feeling when you wake and can drift back off to sleep knowing nothing is making you get up, I could stay there till midday. Sometimes I do. But that’s my balance. You will hear of athletes having rest days, they are as important as the training days, your bodies chance to recover and I covert them. This is because my weekday routine usually starts around 5:30am its just about getting light and I can get 2 hours worth of exercise in before my day, normally a bike ride followed by run or a swim (still training for Ironman…).

Now sometimes its not vigorous exercise that I do, I would actually class it as positive reflection, now don’t think I’m getting all hippy here but often I will just put on some music and walk or jog for an hour thinking about the day ahead, some good things that are coming up and I often visualize what I want to achieve. It’s amazing how refreshed you feel afterwards. You arrive home around 6:45am and I guarantee you do not feel one bit tired. Have a shower eat some breakfast then begin the day. You get more done in those hours than 90% of the population.

coffee

You can be in the top 10% of readiness for your day. I know its not always practical when you have families, but I seriously urge you to make this time at least a couple of time a week. It one of the best remedies for anxiety, stress, low energy and its free and easy. Plus you get the planet virtually to yourself as there isn’t many other people up and about, but here is something else I’ve noticed, anyone you meet at that time of the morning that is doing something similar to you will always give you a nod, or a hi or some acknowledgement. Because they know it’s not easy to set an alarm, get up, get out. They know it takes practice and self discipline. There is an immediate mutual respect. After a time getting up isn’t hard. You actually look forward to it! Crazy right!

I wrote the above a couple of months ago but never published it, not sure why as I still believe in the merits of early morning exercise. But since the throws of the Ironman event a week ago I had what I term as a “recovery week”. This meant that I did nothing, (apart from work) absolutely no exercise at all, no early morning walks even, just stayed in bed till it was time to get up. The interesting thing is I woke up at 6.30am on the dot every day. It was hard to go back to sleep for an hour or so… my body was willing me up. Towards the end of the week I caved and ended up playing squash one night and then on the Sunday I got up early (4:30am!) to support my better half who was running a 30km endurance race. I actually ran a 5k then rode on to support her during her last miles. The reason I say I caved was I sooo wanted to do something in the mornings that my body and mind were alert at 6:30am. This might seem ludicrous to most and believe me, it does to me! But it was almost like a drug withdrawal, the mind wants what it wants and I was telling it nope – turn off back to sleep. Do I feel refreshed from a week of nothing? Not really – I feel a little lethargic and my eating habits have succumb to a bit more candy and cakes…. So this week I am back into the routine, Monday night swim, Tuesday morning bike ride, Wednesday night run, Thursday am bike ride, Friday am ramp runs Fri evening long swim, Sat sleep, Sunday am long ride … Need to add in a few more runs.

early-inspiration

I suppose what I am saying is when you first start out doing anything its always hard, then it becomes habit, breaking a habit is hard but when the habit you have formed is good for you its even harder to break! I didn’t realize I had become a morning person. My teenage self hates me right now, it doesn’t get it at all, but then he didn’t fear middle age and all the wonderful delights that come with it. I emailed a group of guys I have been friends with since school. Birmingham (our home city in the UK) is hosting its first international marathon so I sent them a challenge – we have one year to get into shape and run this bad boy… all before any of us turn 40. Now of the group of 4 friends only one gave it a maybe! The resultant list of maladies ranging from shin splits to arthritic hips just made me wince. These guys who I always envision being the same guys who rode bikes, played sports and were generally active have now become a range of inactive bystanders hell bent on believing that they cant do something. When did the majority of society think this way? So you have put on a few pounds, not done much in a few years, get pain in your joins with a little over exertion, well guess what its going to hurt when you get going. It’s not pretty but the end result will be life changing. None of the physicality’s reflected in my friends responses will in anyway hinder them while running, sure they will ache the whole time but that will lessen as they become fitter, lighter and generally healthier. I’ve seen people with reconstructed knees, no knees, no legs and many other life changing issues run a marathon. The only limiting factor in someone who is physically able is themselves.

So whether its getting up in the morning, or starting to exercise you, your brain and your own desire are all that stand in the way. So get up! Get out! Learn to love early starts…..

Endurance events and childbirth is the same, here is why!

Seriously what makes a man or woman wake up one day and go “Yes” an ironman is for me! It doesn’t have to be an Ironman event it could be a marathon, half marathon, Sparta anything really… Also why is the biggest age group that takes part in this 30-40 years of age?

Well I think I have the answer, it basically to prove to yourself that you’ve still got it! Regardless of whether you’re doing it to loose weight or simply to tick a bucket list item the answer is the same – You are proving it to yourself.

Completion of said task is also akin to childbirth – now please forgive the analogy dear reader, I am aware I am male but I promise you will see where this is going!

Yes doing an endurance event is like childbirth.

You see you have the great idea to get started lets call that the “sex” part – its exciting, its fun, you may even try new gear! Then it gets real and the training begins in earnest let’s call that getting pregnant! You have 9 months of struggles, sickness, aches and pains in places you never knew could ache. You get up early and have to pee allot! There are numerous doctors visits, maybe event a bunch of physio appointments, you read every article you can associated with your race/birth, you tell everyone what your doing (even though its obvious). You start craving gels, bananas and protein shakes, you cut out anything that could be bad for you….

Then Race day – The Birth – Several hours of pain, sweat, tears, hugs, breathing, clothing changes, vaseline, water, towels, there are ambulances and medical staff on hand and finally the finish – Its arrived oh the elation, the emotion, again more tears, calls to loved ones, comments on the time and condition of participants. The moans of never again! – Then 2 days later lets do another one!

So you see doing an endurance race and giving birth really is the same!

I write the above as I was asking myself why I keep doing these events and simply put the elation of completing the task at hand is way better than the months of training and pain on the day. The sense of achievement helps motivate and the health benefits simply make you feel good.finisherpix_1273_033452

Things you can learn at a finish Line

You just have to believe!

No I don’t mean in the biblical sense, I mean you just have to believe in yourself and believe that you can!

Yeah, yeah, yeah why are you telling me this I’ve heard this all before… well you perhaps have but I bet you haven’t done this…

I would like you to seek out a marathon run near you, don’t worry you don’t have to do it, yet. I want you to go to the finish line around the 5 hours plus mark. After 5 hours or more of continuous exercise you are fighting some pretty awesome demons. Just as many as the sub 5 hour people but now they have turned even more evil!

After we finished the Miami half marathon this weekend in Miami we went back to the hotel had a hot shower and then said we would go and watch the marathon finishers. Something we had never done before even though we have taken part in several now! Hands down it was the best part of the whole weekend for both of us! We screamed and shouted for every random stranger that ran over that finish. We felt every bit of emotion with them, so many people shed tears of triumph as they crossed that line and we were right there with them.

Why? because you know their pain so their accomplishment just reminds you what yours felt like, and you know what it makes you want to do it again. Every person that finishes the dreaded 26.2 has a story to tell, they all did it for a reason, many will do one again.

But that’s not what this post is about, if you have not done one you wont be able to relate to those feelings however you can see it in others. No, what I want you to notice is the sheer diversity of people and body types that cross that finish line….. disabled athletes, Amputees, Large people , small people , young, old, athletic, not athletic, every race color and creed, the finish line lets everyone pass and that’s the take away here.

If you can honestly walk away from that finish line and think “I could never do that”, you have missed something. You don’t have to run a marathon, but if you think you can then I promise you, you can. You just have to believe in yourself!