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Get up early to get the workout in

When’s the best time to get your workout in? The short answer is to do it as early as you can. The simple reason for this is that it limits the ability of life to crop up and get in the way. If we plan on working out later in the day, there’s simply more opportunities for something to happen at work, one of the kids get sick, or to simply not feel up for it. If we do it earlier in the day, it makes it more likely that we’ll get it done.

December 2018. It was Dark. It was cold. It was wet. But the Ruston group still got their workout in this day.

That being said, there are times when it makes sense to push it back a bit. Obviously as we head into the winter months, we have less daylight to play with in the morning before we have to be at work or school, and more of that time is during busy traffic hours. So it makes sense that there are times that it wouldn’t be safe to go running, depending on where you live and what time you have to get going with everything else in the morning.

Most of us are past the bad thunderstorms part of the year, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be getting winter storms. If you know there is a chance for dicey weather conditions to crop up at the time of the morning you’d normally get your early-in-the-day workout in, chances are you’re probably better off doing it later in the day if you require being outside. There’s always the option of the treadmill, but sometimes it’s a better fit to do the workout outside.

The availability of training partners can be a big one for some folks. Some runners like to run with at least one other person for safety reasons, but even those of us who are lone wolf runners normally get a little more out of a harder workout or a long run if we have company. And if you’re training partners are only available at a certain time, then it’s probably a good idea to get the workout in then instead of some other time earlier in the day. This is one of the “safer” reasons to delay the workout until later in the day, because it comes with the added benefit of peer pressure to keep us accountable. The same thing can be said about personal training. You’re more likely to show up, even if it’s after work or after dinner, if there is someone waiting on you.

The biggest reason to push the workout back until later in the day though is simply the fact that you have higher priorities. And that’s okay. Sometimes it’s important to acknowledge that you have higher priorities than your workout today. I strongly recommend you don’t fall into the trap of an excuse being a “higher priority” than it actually is, but not all of us have the option of getting up super early, or getting the workout in before the day starts. If those other things are higher priorities, they should happen before you work out. For the same reason that we normally try to get our workouts in early, if those other things are high priorities, getting them taken care of before life can get in the way helps prevent getting a wrench thrown in the works of the stuff that matters.

Brian Huskey and I meeting up for a beer after Boston this year. The key word there is AFTER. We had to take care of the big things first (i.e. getting from Hopkinton to Boston).

It’s just like the demonstration of the balls inside the container. If you put all the little balls in first you can’t get them all in. But if you put the big ones in first, they all fit. And the sand. And the beer. By concentrating on the high priority items, we can get more done over the course of a day, week, or month. And that's the goal right? If getting more fit is actually a priority for us, we will make more fitness gains by prioritizing getting our workouts in. They won't all be pretty. They won't all be fun. But they will get done. And that's what it takes to get better.

Don't waste your precious training time putting out fires (by preventing them the day before) or piddling around on crap that can be done later. Because whether or not we want to admit it to ourselves, we're choosing to do the stuff that "prevents" us from getting the high priority things done. We're responsible for those calls. Yes, sometimes life happens. But more often than not life happens when we failed to do our homework and prevent the "fire" in the first place. The real take home message from this week: Do the high priority stuff early in the day. Get up early, do the important stuff, then take care of the little things.

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