One of the interesting aspects of training with the xcottawa.ca racing team is that because a significant portion of the team works regular office hours during the day, sometimes, if you want to train together it has to be either very early or relatively late. On most of the other teams I have been part of teammates were usually students or basically full-time athletes. In either case, training at those easy to get ready for times of day (like say 9 or 10 am) was usually possible.
This summer, as in past summers, I am one of the people working a more or less regular 9 to 5 schedule which at least allows me to experience a bit of the working person's pain that some of the other people on our team feel all year round.
My experience with training early in the morning, say between 6 and 8, has convinced me that it is a good thing to do, but maybe in limited quantities.The reason for the limited quantities is fairly simple. If you are like most human beings in today's world, something usually conspires against your best-laid plans to get to bed early at least a couple of times a week (a phone call from someone that you have not heard from in a long time like a spouse that left you because you train too much, a car that breaks down, or an all-important keg party). I figure that if you get less than the ideal amount of sleep one or two nights a week, you might be able to compensate for it by going to bed earlier other nights, or finding time to squeeze in some naps somewhere. If you sleep too little more often than that people will start asking you what you have been smoking.
So about twice a week this year I have been doing some kind of workout before work. For your interest, here is how this week's workout went. Teammate Wayne Dustin agreed to meet me at 6am to do some rollerskiing on the bike paths. We were going to be doing slightly different workouts, but he said that he would have time to bring his video camera to do a couple minutes of video work and that we could do part of the workout together.
I set my alarm for 5:30, laid out the necessary equipment for workout (see photo #1) put my head to the pillow and after what seemed like five minutes, it went off.
I made a couple of weather observations which indicated that yes, my alarm had gone off at the right time (see photo #2),and that it would likely be raining while we were rollerskiing, possibly very hard. I also made the observation that the street lights were still on.
Surprisingly, I actually made it to the workout on time. Unsurprisingly, Wayne had already been training for 15 minutes, and was about to start his interval workout. “This is one sick old man” I thought to myself. (Interestingly, the oldest male member of our team is also the one most likely to be found training at this time, and the only member of our team who has raced at the Olympics...hmmm)At this point, the skies began to part with the moisture I hoped they would continue to desperately cling to. I momentarily began to part with the the thought that his training before work thing was a good idea.
In the end, the workout went well, and I made it home by the time that I am usually starting breakfast, which was a slightly unusual sensation. For me, this meant I could get to work on time feeling wide awake until about 2pm, when the early mornings usually catch up to me. I struggle to keep my eyes open and my brain functioning until after work, and then take a short nap.
For others on our team who don't have regular jobs, it has been expressed by Ed McCarthy that while it is kind of hard to motivate oneself to get up that early, doing so has been said to allow you to “discover the day” instead of spending most of it either procrastinating, eating, training or sleeping
Other cited merits include being able to take advantage of quiet roads and paths for cycling and rollerskiing, avoiding heat and sun during the summer, and being able to listen to terrific early-morning radio shows!
So if you are one of those people who has to work or even if you are not, I recommend you at least experiment with early morning training. You might like it, you might not, but you probably won't lose more than your breakfast by trying. ( I recommend you eat a light breakfast if you are going to be trying to train within half an hour of waking up).