Tips for Morning Workouts

Tips for Morning Workouts

Recently I received a question about running and working out in the morning.   I haven’t always been a “morning runner,” but since graduating college, I’m a morning runner 99% of the time.  If I don’t run before 9 am, chances are I don’t run.  Of course, it doesn’t include races, although I did wish they all started before 9.

I will be the first to tell you it’s much easier to run in the morning during the summer.  It gets lighter earlier, and it’s warmer.  You don’t feel as though you’re ripping blankets off to go for a run in the dark and cold.  With my constant change of schedule, it’s better for me to get the run done earlier.

I posted a long time ago that I don’t drink coffee before I run.  I used to drink coffee right when I woke up almost every day. However, I had one bad race (the Distance series in 2013? 2014? And that ruined it for me.

Recently I was sent Alert Caffeine Gum to try.  I’ve heard of caffeinated gum before, and it seems like a lot of people swear by it.  Thinking out loud, I’m not a huge gum chewer, but I was excited to give it a shot.  Like anything, you don’t know until you try!

Alert Caffeinated Gum

Here are some other ways I prepare myself to workout in the morning:

Sleep: I am known to turn my technology off around 9-9:30 pm.  I might go to bed a little later, but I stop fiddling with the computer, texting, etc.  It allows me to wind down and actually get to bed.  Tweeting at the pillowcase keeps me wide awake.

Set an Alarm (or 2 or 10): I’ve adjusted to waking up between 5-5:30 am most mornings.  To be honest, at this point it doesn’t phase me.  However, it didn’t use to be like that, and I needed an alarm to pull me out of bed.

Check the Weather: Mentally I like to have an idea if I’ll be running inside or outside.  Or if it’s going to be snowing, pouring rain, or windy.  Not all surprises are good ones.

Make Sure. You Have Appropriate Gear Clean: Many bloggers will tell you to lay your clothing out, and I think that is fantastic advice, however, for me if I have appropriate gear cleaned and findable, I consider it a good day.

Caffeine! As I mentioned, I no longer drink coffee before I run.  I was lucky enough to be sent Alert Caffeine GumAlert Caffeine Gum to try.  I’ve consistently chewed a piece after breakfast, and I do feel a bit more jazzy during my run.  I don’t feel like I’m slogging through the first mile.

I’ve also tried Alert Gum in the middle of the day, and it doesn’t keep me up at night.  It has half the caffeine of a cup of coffee which is a great amount for me.

Alert Gum is available in Mint or Fruit flavors, and each pack has 8 pieces.  It’s available on Amazon or Walmart for $2.99. Personally, I like the fruity flavor the best.

Finally, Stick to It:  Sometimes we want to change but aren’t willing to give it time.  Give your new routine at least 2 weeks.  If after two weeks, it’s not for you, find something that is!

Thank you Alert Caffeine Gumfor sponsoring this post!

Questions for you:
What time do you like to workout?
Do you have any methods to wake up in the morning?

How to Stay Motivated

How to Stay Motivated

Last Friday, I was anything but motivated.  The amount I wanted to run wasn’t just 0%, it was probably -20%.

As a runner and a running blogger, I am supposed to be motivated all of the time right?  Otherwise, I have failed at my self-created duties!

What happened that particular day?

  • I had a meeting in the morning. I’m a morning runner and the later it gets, the less motivated I am to run. Some people like to run later, but I’m not one of those people.
  • I was already stressed out from outside life factors. For some people, running is their stress reliever.  For me, I feel when I run, but I enjoy other things to relieve stress.
  • Finally, the weather was the coldest it has been all year. It’s not an excuse, but cold weather can be so demotivating.  Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is freeze in the bitter wind while running.

Ultimately around 1 pm, I found myself with a choice.  Either I was going to run, or I was not going to run.  I had my running clothing in the car and instead of going straight home to think about running, I went straight to the gym.

I can’t tell you I’ve always decided to go for a run when I haven’t felt like it but on Friday I manged to get a solid treadmill run in.

Many people ask how to stay motivated to keep running.

The short answer is: you just do.  Motivation has to come from you wanting to run not from a blog post telling you how too.

But of course, there are a few tips I have that keep me motivated to just run:
  • Forget pace and time. Just take the simple and basic sport and go for a run.  Remember why you fell in love with the sport. It wasn’t run a specific time or pace, it was just moving one foot in front of the other.  It shouldn’t feel like a chore.
  • Think about what you would actually be doing in your running time frame. For me, I know I would just be sitting on the computer and honestly doing minimal work.
  • For some people looking at motivational quotes, pictures, and social media gets them out running. That’s awesome and if that is what gets you motivated go for it!
  • For me, I get motivated through seeing my local friends and runners getting through it. If they can get through a run in the same elements, then so can I!

Remember, at the end of the day, it’s just running.  If you take a day or two off, that’s fine.  Your overall fitness is built on consistently running, not just one day.

Questions for you:
How do you stay motivated when you don’t feel like it?
What is something you’ve accomplished recently?

Woodbury 5k (19:40)

Last Sunday I woke up feeling pretty good.  I wasn’t nearly as sore as I anticipated after the Scott Coffee 8k the day before.  I was also motivated to run another race.  I’m not sure why I was so motivated to run another race but I felt good.  A quick trip to our store website revealed there were plenty of races on Sunday morning.  I had not planned to run a race on Sunday but I felt good and decided to take a chance…the worst that could happen was I had a bad race, didn’t mention or blog about it and it “never happened”.

I found one about 15 minutes away. After driving there and noting how hilly Woodbury was I realized I had no idea what the course would be like.  Like the majority of Southern NJ terrain, I assumed it would be flat (which was false).

I warmed up 3 miles, which is more than usual.  I felt like I needed to flush more lactic acid out of my legs.  During the warm-up I felt bad.  I thought I would probably regret the decision to race. My dad once told me, the worse you feel during warm-up, the better you’ll do.  I find this true about 75% of the time.

There are some races I feel awful during warm-up and then race awful.

The race started on an uphill. I immediately positioned myself as second woman, which was where I stayed the entire race.  I was chasing someone who stayed about 15 seconds in front of me.  Ultimately she broke away and finished about 30 seconds in front.

After going up the hill in the start, I felt pretty good.  The woman and I stayed with a pack of men for a while.  The first mile had a series of turns and it was like a mystery of what would come next.  I ran the first mile in 6:09 (one second slower than my current fastest mile of 2015).

During the second mile I found myself alone.  I could see a few people in front and focused on chasing them.  Honestly I think having a group to chase kept me running faster.  I know it did at the 8k too.  Despite the hills, I still ran a 6:23 second mile.  I was excited that I didn’t fade as quickly as last week’s 5k. Last week, I ran a 6:08 first mile and then bounced into the 6:30s followed by a 6:58.

woodbury 3

By the third mile I knew I still had a chance to break 20 minutes again (which has been something I’ve been going back and forth with).  I knew we also had to go down the uphill we originally went up.  I hoped I could just hold on and break 20 again.  I have stopped “counting my chickens” because every time I think I’ll break 20, I crash.  I ran the last mile in 6:35.

I was able to power down the hill make my way to the finish line.  We finished the last .1 on the high school track.

I was out kicked by a man in the last stride.  I don’t think my legs could move faster if they tried.

There he goes!

There he goes (I didn’t realize anyone was there and he scared me! HA)

I finished second female in 19:40.  

woodbury 1

I am happy with my effort and time for the race. I wasn’t expecting to run a race last Sunday but I felt good. This was my fastest time on the hardest course. It was really motivating to see progress towards my goal of a PR. I didn’t feel out of breath but I did feel like my legs didn’t have any faster turnover left!

woodbury award

Questions for you:

Have you ever jumped into a race the day of?

What was the last thing that motivated you?

Self Doubt

My thoughts for Shamrock have drastically changed since the beginning of the year.  Until reflecting upon my performance at the Lake Effect half, I was gunning for a PR at Shamrock.

I was ready.

Yet realizing that there are only 3 weeks in between the races I don’t know if my body could recover quick enough.  It took me just over a week to recover for training.  After about a week I was able to hold similar paces with the same effort.  In order to improve, you must either train a little bit harder or have a better day.  I’m honestly not sure if I could have a better day than Lake Effect right now.  The course for Lake Effect was perfect, flat and fast, nice weather conditions and I was pretty pumped.  There was a slight wind but nothing to make me say OMG this wind is horrendous.

 

After thinking more realistically, I began to realize that my body might not be ready for a PR yet.   I think I need more time under my training belt.

Although thinking back, my fastest 3 half marathons (the Nike Women’s half 1:24.49, The Shamrock half 1:25.15 and the Lake Effect half 1:25.32) were all surprises to me.  I was never expecting to PR in any.  I have found my best races have always come when I have less expectations.  This leads me to the main point of the post.

I am a big self doubting runner.  I find myself wondering what I truly am capable of.  I wonder if my training has prepared me.  My mind is always questioning whether I am ready for a race or not. 

Is it because I’m not always confident in my abilities as a runner?  Maybe.

I have always lacked confidence as a runner.  There are very few races that I am 100% confident I am going to PR in.  Leading up to a bigger race, I never know what my body is truly capable of.  I wonder have I done enough training?  Have I done correct training?  I seem to always question myself and wonder how the race will go.  I think as runners or who humans we can all relate to questioning yourself at some point (whether workout related or not).

I try and remind myself of things that I’ve done and can’t do now.

I remind myself of the training runs I’ve done when I haven’t wanted too.

I remind myself of the previous races I have excelled at in this training cycle.

I remind myself that second guessing my abilities will not get me anywhere.

I remind myself that running more miles or harder miles are not going to positively affect the race. 

I guess my biggest motivation is this.  I remind myself that after a good or bad race, I am still the same person.  My life will go on and my family and friends will still love and care for me all the same.  I remind myself that running does not hold all the marbles in my life.

As I head back to Virginia today I have time to reflect on training and get ready for an exciting race.  Maybe it will be a PR, maybe not…If not I will regroup and continue training.  My life (or yours) is not built on a single moment.  You have many more moments and we have many more races.

Questions for you:

What do you do to build confidence? 

What is your next goal race?

While Shamrock is a big deal for me I also have two more half marathons in the Spring.

UnMotivating Weeks

It seems like every summer I hit a huge wall.  I wonder, why am I getting up this early.  All my friends go to bed at 11 wake up at 7 (at the very earliest) for work, yet here I am day in and day out up no later than 5:30 every morning solely to run.  I hit this wall of misery every single summer that I’ve run, questioning why I’m even doing it.  Waking up early stinks.  Running by yourself at ungodly hours in the dark…stinks.

In 2011, I got a stress fracture because I gave in and ran in the afternoons on the treadmill.  I became to concerned with pace and miles versus anything else…I was a little baby runner then and I have since learned my lesson.

In 2012 I hit this wall pretty hard as well.  I was stressed with waking up to run before work so I wouldn’t run on the treadmill post work.  I was stressed with a newly created long distance relationship.  I was stressed with doing some open water swims to prepare for my 2 miler and also 5k.  I was, of course, biting too much too chew.  Needless to say I made it through the summer logging huge miles and made it somehow through the summer injury free.  Though I did hit the wall pretty hard.

This summer is no different.  I’m still biting off more then I can chew.  I’m working two jobs to pay for everything.  While no my parents are not making me pay rent at home, I am responsible for paying almost everything else.  Including food I like, running related fees and clothes…and basically everything else.  So I want to be able to afford that as well as having some extra spending money.  So what am I even saying?  I’ve hit that point in the summer (mid july as it always is) that I’m over running.  I just need a mental break.

Last week I gave myself a couple days off, nixed any speed and it seemed to really do the trick.  Though I’m not one to ever pressure myself from pace, if I consistently ran slower then normal it does take a mental toll.

My motivation is pretty much at a-5.  So why do I keep running?  Well, we aren’t always going to motivated running.  Sunshines and butterflies will not accompany all of your runs and it’s actually getting out there and powering through mentally tough times that make you a stronger runner.  Sure, it’s not optimal to run in the humidity, nor is it optimal to run in the NY winters…nor Texas summers.  You aren’t going to have perfect runs every day or even half the time so if I can remember that like last year somehow I’ll hopefully make it through and injury free.

Question for you: Do you see times when your motivation goes down?  

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