Tough Mornings

For most of my adult life, I’ve disliked working out in the morning.  Maybe it stems from the unpleasant memories of basic training.  We were greeted at 4:30 every morning with some obnoxious sound track blaring over the loud speakers in the barracks, intended to make sure no one could possibly sleep through the noise.  We had 5 minutes to get dressed in our horrible white cotton PT uniforms and get into formation for an hour of calisthenics and running.  This was west Texas in the summer, so the temperatures dropped a lot over night.  Factor in the constant 15 mph wind and the overpowering smell of the cattle farms nearby, and you can imagine why early morning workouts don’t hold a warm place in my heart.

Fast forward to now (never mind how many years that is), and I’ve mostly overcome the aversion to morning workouts.  I’ve definitely learned to enjoy running in the morning, especially given the alternative of afternoon runs in the summer with temperatures over 100.  Other than the dangers of potholes and road hazards in the dark, I’ve learned to like riding in the morning, too.  The air is cooler, I get to see the sunrise, and there are often deer and foxes running around in the fields of the state parks I ride though.

I’ve even learned to accept swimming in the morning.  It requires that I get up a little earlier than I care for, and the water is usually a bit colder, but it will really wake you up.  Plus, I’m fully awake by the time I get to the pool.  I can even stomach a small cup of coffee on the way.

That leaves strength training.  I hate strength training in the morning.  No two ways about it.  I can’t have my cup of coffee first, unless I want to run the risk of… well, you get the idea.  So, no caffeine jolt, which is bad enough.  Add to that the fact that my muscles are cold, having just gotten out of bed after 6 or so hours of sleep.  And, if I did any kind of workout the night before, I’m probably still a little stiff or sore from that.  Nope, I just don’t like it.

Unfortunately, there’s no way around it with my current workout volume and arrangements.  I usually swim in the morning and do strength training in the evening.  Unfortunately, this week I’m on the road at a hotel with an outdoor pool.  As unpleasant as strength training in the morning may be, it’s better than getting into the outdoor pool at 5:30 in the morning.  Maybe if it were August, but the evening temperatures are dipping down into the 60s.  Just a little chilly for me.

So, I’ll bite the bullet and hit the gym in the mornings.  I did my first morning strength and stretching routine today, and it went well enough.  I got all of my sets and reps in, despite a lack of coffee.  I’m sure that once I get used to it, as I have with running, cycling, and swimming, I’ll learn to enjoy morning strength sessions.  At least I can keep telling myself that.

And, doing morning strength training allows me to swim in the evenings, when it feels really nice to get into the pool.  I’m usually a little more loosened up after a day’s activities than when I swim first thing in the morning, which is also a plus.  I finished a 2100 yard workout this evening, including a 400 yard straight set.  Not my longest, but the longest in a few weeks.  I still hope to break last month’s record of 1600 yards without a rest before the end of May, but I haven’t really been getting a lot of good swim workouts in.  I’ll probably save that for after I get home and have access to a full length 25 yard pool.  The fewer laps I have to count, the better.

So, even strength training in the morning has it’s up side.  Not a big one, but an up side still.  Now if I can just figure out a way to work in a cup of coffee…

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