I don’t know about you, but I envy people who bounce out of bed and instantly feel ready for the day. I have never been able to do that but I've been trying to more recently with some success. Here's how...
I recently learned that my genes have a lot to do with this. In fact, one gene in particular the PER3 gene is said to dictate whether or not we’re naturally a morning lark or a night owl. If you have a long gene, you’re likely to be an early riser and if your PER3 gene is short you’re more likely to be a night owl or wolf as described by sleep expert Dr Steve Breus. According to Breus, there are actually 4 different classifications/chronotypes, Lions, Bears, Wolves and Dolphins.
- Lions are classic morning types.
- Bears have an energy cycle that rises and falls with the sun.
- Wolves are evening types. They naturally stay up later and prefer to sleep later.
- Dolphins are light sleepers and tend to wake up at the slightest noise.
I’m a Bear, so it makes sense that I have never felt great running early in the morning. In fact, I wish that more races had an evening start time because I feel best when I run between 5-8pm in the evening - or at least this is what I thought AND wanted to believe because it means not having to get out of bed early.
So, when ASICS recently collaborated with a Sporting Mind to help raise money for mental illness in athletes by encouraging us runners to share photos of ourselves running as the sun rises, I was less than optimistic. It’s not that I don’t get up early, I do, my young children make sure of that. It’s just that I’ve spent years telling myself that I am not designed to run in the morning and ‘it’s not for me’.
… the truth is, us ‘Bears’ CAN get up early and exercise without feeling like crap despite the fact that our body clock might not be entirely set up for it. The key is to work with your physiology as best you can give it time to adapt and be ready to move. By this I mean ‘Bears’ may have a slower rise in cortisol and as such feel tired and sluggish for about an hour or so after waking. To combat this, us Bears just need to give ourselves more time to prepare our body and mind to move and thanks to the Sunrise Mind Campaign this is exactly what I’ve done. The campaign gave me a kick up the backside to challenge my belief that morning running wasn’t for me. But rather than just hop out of bed and run, I took a tactical approach to it. If you’re a Night Owl or Bear, like me, and want to feel somewhat human enough to run at sunrise, then check out my top tips below.
- Invest in a Day Light Alarm Clock. There are loads on the market at varying price points, but ultimately, they all do the same thing. Rather than waking you abruptly with a loud noise, the clock uses light to stimulate your brain through your eyelids thus encouraging you to move into a lighter sleep cycle. When you wake, the light is on in the room and your cortisol levels have been given a head start, slowly rising as you slept meaning that when you finally wake, you will feel more alert. Set the light to come on about 1 hour before you intend to run.
- Keep bottled water by your bed: One of the main reasons for feeling sluggish in a morning run is hydration. Try to drink a few hundred milliliters of water as soon as you wake up (before reaching for coffee).
- Get your kit out the night before: It is pretty obvious why, but a few minutes the night before can save you a lot of procrastinating in the morning. And by kit, I mean choose a podcast/music or audiobook you want to listen to. Don’t let that slow you down or delay you getting out the door.
- Eat something: It can take some practice to run with food in your stomach, but it’s worth it. It doesn’t need to be a meal or large snack, something as small as rice cakes or crackers with honey and peanut butter will help your body feel more energized.
- Mobilize: Start off slow and add in some basic mobilizing exercises to the first 5 minutes of your run.
- Run towards the sun: Thanks to Sunrise Mind, I now know what I was missing out on for all these years. Running towards the sun as it rises does wonders for the mind and lifts the spirits so much that even us Bears will be willing to get out of bed to see it!
Health Coach from London
Age group: 35-40
Club: RunWell Club
Coach: Karen Weir www.runwithkaren.com
Don't wait for motivationby Bernadette Dancy / Apr. 01, 2020
Right now more than ever it feels like everyone is doing a home workout, going for a run or walk just to break the boredom of social isolation. This can be incredibly frustrating when you WANT to get fit or exercise...but you just can’t find your mojo.