Sara and I often get asked about our pre-run morning routine, so I thought it would be fun to tell you what a typical morning looks like for us. I’m definitely a morning person—I usually jump out of bed well before Sara, and I’ve developed a routine that I quite enjoy. It keeps me feeling good on most of my runs*, and I think it could help you, too. Here goes…
6:30 am—Wake Up without an Alarm
Sara and I hardly ever use an alarm clock. As professional runners, we have the luxury of sleeping as much as our bodies crave, which is typically between 8 and 10 hours each night. I rely on my Fitbit Surge to show me if I’m getting enough sleep, and to assess the quality of those hours. Seeing how restless I am is extremely useful, because interrupted sleep is a tell-tale sign of overtraining and can signal the need to push a hard workout to another day.
6:31 am—Check In with Your Ticker
Another important marker I track with my Fitbit Surge is my resting heart rate. I’ve noticed I often have an elevated heart rate right before getting sick—even before I start having other symptoms, like a scratchy throat or stuffy nose. Running sick is never fun, so that’s another signal to back off the intensity.
On the other hand, a low resting heart rate is a good indication that I’m well-rested and ready to train hard. Last week I was at the end of a reduced-load training week (I run once a day and cut my mileage in half, compared to a high-load week with twice-a-day runs and a weekly mileage of 100), and upon waking my resting heart rate was 26—my lowest ever! This was a sign to me that I had recovered well in my down week and was ready to ramp things up again.
6:35 am—Hit the Bathroom Scale
After using the restroom (assuming that this isn’t one of the once a month random early morning knocks on the door by USADA for drug testing), I step on my Fitbit Aria scale. I keep an eye on my weight because sudden losses or gains can indicate something is not quite right with my body.
For example, a couple days ago I noticed I was two pounds lighter than usual, and I realized I was dehydrated—probably due to a cold I picked up while traveling. I knew this would mean a day of poor workout performance. I was mentally ok, because I could anticipate it—my body was battling something other than the pavement.
I also track my weight because I don’t want to be too lean between competitions. I’ve learned from professional cyclists and runners I’ve trained with in Africa, it’s healthy to put on a good amount of weight after a big race. I get really lean—somewhere in the 4 to 6% body fat range—leading up to a competition, and then go back up to about 9% body fat after, which is a much healthier place to be year round.
6:45 am—Drink (& Fuel) Up!
Every morning I drink 20 ounces of water while making breakfast. I picked this trick up from Clyde Wilson, a nutritionist at Stanford University—it’s an easy way for me to kick off my hydration for the day.
The real fun starts when I get the mixing bowl out and prepare my signature Molten Lava Cocoa Teff Pancakes. They’re loaded with healthy carbohydrates and protein to fuel your muscles. Sara and I have them every morning without fail—we’re addicted! (Keep your eyes on the Fitbit blog, I’ll be sharing the recipe next week.)
7:30 am—Feed Your Soul
After enjoying our pancakes, Sara and I spend half an hour feeding our spirits. We’ll sip a warm beverage (have you ever tried buttered coffee?), and center ourselves through bible reading and prayer. It’s a great way to connect with our faith and with each other before the day gets hectic.
8:00 am—Warm Up & Hit the Road
After completing some warm-up moves, Sara and I hit the road for our runs, which range anywhere from 5 to 25 miles depending on our training schedules and upcoming competitions.
And there you have it—our typical wake-up routine. Sleep, resting heart rate, weight, proper hydration, nutrition, and spirit all contribute to our performance. I hope this has been insightful, and that you’re able to pick up a few tips to help improve your workouts, too.
*Let’s be real here, some runs feel terrible no matter how perfect your morning routine—it comes with the territory when you’re training hard.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.