In advance of the first Predawn Runner Challenge, I thought it’d be helpful to provide some advice on how to cope with the wee hours of the morning. One of the key elements to successful predawn running is minimizing the amount of prep time involved so that you can keep your entire running experience compact. The less time you need to prepare, the longer you can sleep. Here are 7 tips to help you get out the door faster in the morning.
Lay out your clothes the night before. This should be obvious, but if your clothes are organized (all the way down to having your socks unbundled), you can get dressed more quickly. If you have to stumble in a half-awake state in a dark closet, you will lose precious time and start your morning off on the wrong note.
Program your watch in advance. I use a Garmin Forerunner 405 for my runs; if I am planning intervals or anything that involves programming, I set it the night before so I only have to wait for it to acquire a signal and then push “go”. I have seen others advise to leave the watch by a window overnight so that it already has a signal. I don’t use the heart rate monitor – if anyone has suggestions on how to set this up more efficiently, please add your thoughts in the comments.
Prepare any fluids or gels the night before. If you need to fill flasks or pack gels, get it done in advance, same logic as your clothing. You should only need to take your fluids out of the refrigerator and stick them in your belt (I use, and highly recommend, the Nathan Speed 2R Auto-Cant Waist Pack).
Hydrate and nourish well the night before. I try to need only a sip of water before heading out, and definitely no food, even for the longer run. I find popcorn (specifically, the 100 calorie bags) a perfect nighttime snack to prepare for the morning run. If it’s going to be long (more than 10 miles), then I have two.
Keep your bedroom alarm clock 10 minutes fast. This is a bit of a mental trick, but I find that I feel this saves me time in the morning. It takes me 10 minutes or less to get ready, so I can get out the door before I even wake up. Even if you know your clock is fast, you feel like you have found time by the time you reach the door to head out on your run.
Spring up at the sound of the alarm. Allow no doubt or thoughts of hitting the snooze button to enter your mind. Commit yourself the night before to getting this run done. Remind yourself how great the rest of the day feels when you have finished your predawn run (or, use any of the other 20 reasons to be a predawn runner that may help to motivate you). Here are some other tips for beating back the snooze button temptation.
Set the alarm only as early as you need to, and no earlier. I mean being precise down to the minute. If I’m doing an 8-mile marathon pace run (7:00), then I allow 56 minutes for the run – if I want to be done by 5:30, then I set the alarm for 4:34 (keeping in mind that it is 10 minutes fast, so I can get out the door by 4:34 “real time”). I make sure that I don’t have to “absolutely” be back on time, in case there is a problem (such as needing to slow down or, more typically, overshooting the distance).
Being efficient in your preparations is as important to predawn running success as being efficient in your running style. It is much easier to get up in the morning if you know you are getting up as late as you can to meet your running goals. Does anyone else have any tricks that help them get out more quickly?