I am an early riser and I’d much rather exercise early rather than late. Even in college, I’d get up early to exercise (back then, that meant 7:30 or 8:00 am) and I wasn’t on a sports team that required it.
Not long ago, I was an exceptionally early riser – fitting in an hour run at 4am before teaching a 5:15 cycle class. There’d be mornings I’d swim at 4 am, get on the trainer before the sun rose…Who was that person? And, more importantly….was she sane?
It’s not like I regularly set an alarm – my body just cranked awake and I indulged it. I would be crabby during the day, and I had an overwhelming feeling of fatigue – but also a compulsion to keep going. Sometimes, I’d force myself up – but most days, I just ignored fatigue because the urge to get things done was so great.
Something has shifted, and for the healthier. Perhaps it was because of my accident. Physiologically, I just need the sleep – or perhaps the accident broke the cycle. Or maybe, just maybe, I realize that I’d rather feel good than check a “to-do” off my list first thing in the morning.
I still get up at 4:30 or 5:30 most days, but those 3 or 3:30 am internal alarms have quelled. I actually want to sleep and have that feeling some mornings that I don’t want to get out of bed.
That’s a feeling normal people have, right? I’m so excited to have it!
We often admire early risers as having serious discipline. In reality, it’s often a symptom of overtraining. Mind you, my body was tired – I had no problem falling asleep. Sleeping well and staying asleep past the wee hours of the morning was another matter.
Sleep is the essential time when your body rests – no kidding – but also repairs. You need to repair from workouts and stress, self-imposed and from life, no matter who you are. An overtrained body often has trouble slowing down and relaxing. This means I was never fully recovering, which does future workouts no favors. It can also lead to irritability, sluggishness during workouts, agitation and persistent muscle soreness.
Poor sleep is also stressful on your body and can cause you to hold onto weight. It becomes an ugly cycle – you want to lose weight so you skimp on sleep to work out…but your body then just holds on tighter to the pounds and releases more hunger hormones.
So, the alarm is set for the last open-water swim of the season tomorrow morning. 4:15. I am not happy about it, but will survive. A couple times per week, I can handle.