Early Morning Exercise – Evaluation

Tonight at midnight the calendar will flip from November to December, and that means it’s time for me to do an evaluation of my November One Month Challenge, which was early morning workouts.

This was my third monthly challenge, and I think it is going to be the first one that becomes a permanent habit of my daily routine.  I found that after waking up earlier and exercising in the morning I am much more energized and motivated to tackle the challenges of the day.  Another benefit of this discipline of getting up early to exercise was the development of a more structured and deliberate morning routine, which I am really enjoying as well.

All told, I exercised on 21 days this month, with a total of 30 separate workouts.  This is because I swim on Monday and Wednesday nights, and also play soccer some evenings, so there were 9 days with two workouts, one in the morning and one in the evening.  Of those 21 days, 19 of them involved morning exercise.  Sure I didn’t do it every day, but I averaged close to 5 mornings a week, which is pretty good I think, and I was sick for three days one week as well, which had an impact.

Anyone who knows will tell you I have spreadsheets for practically everything, so here is an excerpt from my exercise log showing my progress:

Date Exercise Time of Day Duration (Minutes) Distance
02-Nov Weights Morning 45
03-Nov Stationary Bike Morning 30 14.8km
03-Nov Swimming Evening 60 2.2km
04-Nov Weights Morning 40
05-Nov Yoga Morning 20
05-Nov Swimming Evening 60 2.2km
07-Nov Weights Morning 40
07-Nov Soccer Evening 60
08-Nov Bike Ride Morning 55 24km
10-Nov Weights Morning 45
10-Nov Swimming Evening 60 1.85km
11-Nov Stationary Bike Morning 30 15.2km
12-Nov Weights Morning 45
12-Nov Swimming Evening 60 2.3km
14-Nov Weights Morning 45
14-Nov Soccer Evening 60
15-Nov Run Morning 30 5.5km
17-Nov Swimming Evening 80 3.25km
18-Nov Weights Morning 45
22-Nov Weights Morning 45
23-Nov Run Morning 35 6.0km
24-Nov Weights Morning 45
24-Nov Swimming Evening 65 2.0km
25-Nov Stationary Bike Morning 30 15km
26-Nov Weights Morning 45
26-Nov Swimming Evening 60 2.3km
28-Nov Weights Morning 45
28-Nov Soccer Evening 60
29-Nov Run (Treadmill) Morning 30 5km
30-Nov Stationary Bike Morning 30 15.5km

A direct benefit of the consistent exercise and weight lifting is definitely the physical changes that are starting to occur.  I’ve always had fairly muscular legs from all the running and biking I do, but my upper body hasn’t been that well defined.  I still have a ways to go, but the muscles in my upper body and arms are starting to get more defined and toned, which I am definitely happy with, and so is Megan!

As I mentioned above, one of the side benefits I have enjoyed from the early morning exercise challenge is it has led me to develop a morning routine.  Early in the month as I was looking for podcasts to listen to while exercising, I stumbled on the 5am Miracle by Jeff Saunders.  The tag line for this podcast is “How to dominate your day before breakfast”.  One of the big things Jeff stresses is the importance of having a clearly defined morning routine and how that sets you up for success for the day ahead.  So I did establish a morning routine, and I must say that by the time I leave for work 100 minutes after waking up, I feel much more alive and organized than when I’d roll out of bed, rush through breakfast and getting ready and head out the door.  With a routine everything is much more deliberate.  My routine now looks like this:

5:50am – Wake up, drink a large glass of water, and reflect/meditate
6:00am – Get workout clothes on, fill up water bottle, put on iPod
6:05am – Begin workout (The gym is in my building)
6:50am – Return to apartment, stretch, turn on radio
7:00am – Eat breakfast
7:10am – Shave/Shower/Get Ready
7:30am – Leave for work

I think the biggest benefit of having more time and a longer routine in the morning is I have time to think about the day ahead, mentally prioritize and focus on the important tasks.  Especially as I am exercising, I find my mind does lots of great work and thinking.

So what have I learned from this experience?

  • With a little discipline, it is possible to rise early, put on the gym clothes and exercise.
  • By exercising in the morning I am much more likely to get it done and not push it off later in the evening when I am tried from the day.
  • Waking up early and having a structured and defined morning routine allows you to start off your day on the right foot and not get that rushed feeling many people do when they sleep in until the last minute.

How will my morning routine and exercise habits change going forward?

I am going to continue with the early morning workouts and try to make it a lifetime habit.  Sure it isn’t going to be every single day of the year, but I am going to do it the vast majority of them.  I find the early morning exercise combined with my developing morning routine leaving me full of energy and ready to face the day with excitement and vigor.  Who doesn’t want that feeling?  I’m just going to have to embrace the fact that I am a morning person and my days of sleeping the morning away are behind me!

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