The 5 a.m. walking club

From January 10 to January 16, thousands of folks tracked their time for my 2022 Time Tracking Challenge. (You can use the sign-up form on that page to get the week of daily emails anytime you’d like; sign up by early Sunday for the Monday start). I invited people to send me their logs afterwards, and I’ve enjoyed seeing people’s lives and schedules.

Sometimes in a busy life, we need to get creative to fit things in. So I wanted to share one intriguing strategy I saw on a log that I think other folks might consider trying.

Reader Nicole is a lawyer who is also the mother of a 3-year-old girl. She is currently remodeling her house which, I can report from experience, is a time-consuming activity. The week she logged featured the usual component of schedule busting events, both bad (an emergency vet visit) and good (getting a rather long night out when some extended family in town offered to take the 3-year-old).

Amid all this, she maintained a regular exercise routine and spent a lot of time with friends. How? With what she calls the “5 a.m. club.”

Basically, as I saw on her log, on three mornings each week at 5 a.m., she meets a few friends who live in the neighborhood. They walk 2.7 miles in about 45 minutes each time. (Nicole’s sleeping husband can be at home with the 3-year-old.)

As Nicole explains, “No one has anything else on their calendar at 5am so unless one of us is out of town, we meet now on MWF and walk our neighborhood loop. This then gives 2 of us another hour before kids and partners wake up to have that cup of hot coffee and I (like Sarah) play with my planner and read. The other two start getting middle schoolers ready.”

To be sure, waking up at 4:40 a.m. three times a week requires going to bed on time. But I’d note for anyone attempting this that a bedtime of 9:30/9:45 p.m. wouldn’t be so ridiculous (particularly if you have young kids who go to bed relatively early). Nicole also sleeps a little later on the other mornings, since she doesn’t have to be at work at a particularly early time. She averaged about 7.2 hours/day over the whole week.

But with this one habit, she manages to exercise and see friends at least three times a week. I am pretty sure she enjoys it enough that she finds it worth it (she even got up on the morning after she was at the vet quite late with her dog! The dog is OK now.).

So if you have neighborhood friends you’d like to see, and a busy schedule after 6 a.m., this might be worth pondering as a strategy. Or maybe it could be a 6 a.m. club if you’re busy after 7. Or even an 8 p.m. club if that’s the time of day that works for neighborhood friends with little kids who go to bed early. Wear headlamps or stay on the side walks if you have them.

But combining exercise and social time, and doing so multiple times per week, can really make life feel good. Nicole notes that “[I] love my friends I walk with and it is a joy to see them.” She says that “Walking feels like nothing but on a day I miss I am grumpy so I know it helps to move.”

It does. Now I need to go run (just not at 5 a.m.! Did I mention I’m not really a morning person…?)

Photo: Come home from an early walk to enjoy this…

12 thoughts on “The 5 a.m. walking club

  1. Cannot love this enough. I have a running group of ‘5am crazies’ because there is literally no other time of day to do it. The 4:27am wakeup is worth it for the friendship and exercise! Plus, there’s something very calming about being out and about while the rest of the world is sleeping – and you can catch some great sunrises at certain times of the year.

  2. I have to comment that I would never have even considered consistent use of the 5am slot on my calendar if I had not been influenced by your work. Shifting time and deciding my priorities was easier after learning from your books, podcasts and blog! Time tracking is also so eye opening. Thanks for posting and sharing!

    1. I agree with this 100%! After listening to Laura’s podcasts, reading some of her books, and tracking time, I unearthed hours in the day that I forgot existed! It helped with a walking routine and also studying for an industry exam in 2020. I was always a morning person, but Laura helped me to use those hours so much more efficiently!

  3. This is so cute. I love that they do this. One of my aunts has walked with her neighbor lady every weekday morning for about 30 years- I really admire the dedication and consistency.

    1. I love that you are honest to say it’s not for you! I have tried to do the 5am thing and it’s not my time of day for people or exercise, maybe quiet reading or just watching sunrise. It’s nice to see someone successful like you not have a filled early AM routine.

  4. I am not a morning person but…if I commit to meeting someone I will get up! Walking 3 mornings a week with different people each morning – but at 7:30 am instead. : )

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