Using early morning pockets of time

A few weeks ago, we welcomed a new treadmill into the family. The 16-year-old prefers to run on one (vs. outside in our neighborhood) so it seemed like a reasonable request (and it takes less time than driving him to the gym). I massively prefer to run outside, but I suspected that I would be able to use the treadmill on cold or bad weather days, and to get in the marginal extra workout during these months when it will be dark from 4:30 p.m. on.

Also: I find the treadmill so boring that I tend to run faster. I just lope along outside, looking at the scenery, which has been reflected in some of my run data (“really? I only went that far in 45 minutes?”).

Anyway, I have no desire to wake up earlier, but some mornings I do have some downtime in the morning. Both my 14-year-old and 12-year-old are now playing in their middle school’s competition jazz band, which meets at 7:20 a.m. two mornings a week. So, two mornings a week, I get the three older kids up around 6:30, then my husband (if home) drives them at 7 a.m., stopping first at the high school and then the middle school. Often, the little boys don’t wake up until later, and if they do, they often want to watch videos for a while anyway.

So this week I decided to see if I could fit in a treadmill workout in the morning. I knew it was going to be disjointed. I cannot totally tune out the 6:30-7 shift, as things go awry. But here’s how it went down.

6:20 – up. I got into my running clothes. I walked down to the bedrooms and rousted everyone by about 6:28. I walked up to the treadmill and started running at 6:30 (ok, like 6:30 and 37 seconds, which mattered because.…)

6:42 – After running one mile (about 11:23…), I went to check that everyone, including my husband, was moving. They were. So I went back up to the treadmill.

6:44-6:55 — After running a slightly quicker mile (more like 10:30, with bursts up to 7.0 mph, which is fast for me) I went back down to make sure everyone was going out the door, had instruments, glasses, computers, etc. Then it was back up to the treadmill!

7:02-7:13 — last mile. I did 3 minutes at 7.0 mph, but the rest of it was slower.

At that point, I went downstairs, got a cup of coffee, and took about 2 sips before I heard a little voice yelling “good morning Mommy!” The 3-year-old was up.

Of course, this sequence of events meant I needed to shower with the 3-year-old awake. (Normally this would have happened at 6:30 after I got the big kids up). This turned out to be slightly more of an ordeal, as he kept coming into the bathroom, rather than sitting on a chair outside of it with his Kindle, but oh well.

Anyway, there were some bumps, but I have a proof of concept. By 7:15, without really waking up any earlier (about 5 minutes) I’d managed to run 3 miles, including doing some speed work. Everyone still got out the door. I don’t intend to do this every jazz band morning, but it’s nice to know that I can use this spot. I realize that breaking a run up into three chunks might drive some folks crazy, but remember — the treadmill is very, very boring. I feel like breaking it up isn’t a bad thing.

(I do longer, continuous runs outside.)

If you exercise in the mornings, do you modify the routine for winter?

In other news: Still no wi-fi. They told us 3 a.m. last night…but this morning it was not on. I worked in Starbucks yesterday morning and went to the local library with my 16-year-old so he could submit an essay in the afternoon. I am posting this from a friend’s house (they’re all at work or out so it was available).

Other spooky things beyond the lack of wifi…We went trick-or-treating last night, with the three little kids going as Princess Peach, Mario, and Luigi. This was the first year that the little guy really could figure out how to go up to doors, say “trick or treat” and choose the candy he wanted. We met up with one of my daughter’s friends and that was nice. We went through the local fire house’s haunted house, which was a bit disturbing — think jump scares, an air cannon, and two costumed people chasing you around the whole time. The kids liked it. The 14-year-old went with some friends, and went dressed as that giant inflatable dinosaur. Good times.

Photo: The morning scenery is not nearly this nice on the treadmill…

11 thoughts on “Using early morning pockets of time

  1. I do not modify my outdoor running in the winter, though I find this topic to be very polarizing – runners seem to either hate or love winter running, with very little in between! I live about 2 hours south of you so our winters might be slightly milder but probably not by much. I don’t run in ice, but just cold weather isn’t a problem – you just have to have the right gear. I’m an early morning runner and sleep in my clothes for the next morning (this is highly controversial!) to facilitate getting out the door without excuses. But honestly – if you hate winter running outside, then don’t do it! Either find a way to make it more bearable (the right gear helps) or decide that the treadmill is more bearable. Certainly if you don’t mind a disjointed workout, then hopping on the treadmill in intervals is a great option, winter weather or not! We bought a used treadmill of Craigslist more than a decade ago and it is one of the best purchases we made. It only gets used sporadically but it’s so helpful to have it as an option. Hope you end up loving yours longterm, too!

    1. @KGC – I kind of think of myself as all of the above. In winter I do run outside, but probably not as often as in spring/summer/fall. So I am happy to have something else as an option on those days where it is particularly nasty. Running in 30 degree sunny weather is fine. I have cold weather running gear! Running in 15 degree sleet not so much.

    2. I live in an area with no sidewalks but a lovely nature preserve. As long as there is no snow or ice, the nature preserve is basically the ideal running environment. Unfortunately, I live in MI, so snow and ice will be with us soon, and I worry about slipping and falling, or getting hit by a car if I choose to run on the road. I do not love running in 10 degree weather… walking can be pleasant at that temperature, however. Therefore in winter, I’m trying to shift back to weight training and swimming, and just… not quitting exercise entirely, tbh.

  2. I hate the treadmill too but it does give me the opportunity to listen to audio books that I reserve only for that time. It makes me want to get on to finish the book!

  3. I don’t have the energy to run in thé morning yet ^^. Buuut i recently found out that if i split a workout in smaller chunks i get it done . Example : i will do 3 chunks of 12 minutes of a 36 pilates class trough thé day… or thé same with a stréngth training … kind of thé same as your interrupted run dont you think ? Anyway , some mouvement is better than none and that way i was able to follow a « longer class » . So team workout in bits and pièces following along here 🙂

  4. I started using treadmill time to talk to my parents on the phone. It passes the time much more effectively than listening to music or whatever else there is as a distraction. I run sloooooowly, even slower than outside, but on a 1% incline. What kind of treadmill did you get? We have a True (recommended by SHU), but I’ve found it’s not that cushiony and my elderly joints aren’t loving the pounding. I recently ran on a really soft cushy one at the gym and it seemed to make a difference.

    I will say I love the idea of fitting your workout in during pieces of the day. Sometimes I get stuck over wanting to do 30 min, but only having 15. I need to keep reminding myself that 15 is better than nothing, and that I should just do it anyway. I don’t think I’ll ever be a morning runner though.

    1. @omdg – we wound up getting a Nordic one – I haven’t started paying for the iFit yet but my son enjoyed the San Francisco run that comes free with it, so maybe we will. Breaking up exercise is totally fine. There is something to endurance but there’s a lot more to doing something, and if the need for a long block is precluding exercising at all, best to just get rid of the excuse…

  5. Yes, i often do seasonally shift things but also i feel like I am just in another season of life as my kids get bigger and I am attempting a bigger switch. I think i posted this on another of your blog posts but since September i’ve been making an effort to get morning workouts done. For quite a long time I used the 8-9pm timeslot after my kids went to bed really effectively but like you and many others my evening schedule is shifting and it seems like my best opportunity to be consistent now is 6-7am. I need to be home by 7 in order for all the family things to happen. I have run multiple marathons, done an ironman, etc so i i know what it takes to train and be consistent but the morning workout is one that i have dipped in and out of over the years and its never stuck. So this September i leaned into accountability. I have an early bird friend and she picks me up at 6am to swim twice a week. And another friend who is desperate to get back to running who will meet me one morning a week on a dark street corner – even though i think i go slower than she likes – because she won’t go in the cold, dark on her own. So, like Tranquility by Tuesday says ‘3 times a week is a habit’ and that’s happening! I am starting to wake up earlier (and go to bed earlier) so the other days can happen when no one goes with me. I am feeling pretty happy with this! 😀

    1. @Jen – congrats on your new habits! Yep, accountability from friends can totally help. I’m thinking I might aim to do my treadmill runs Tues/Thurs morning, understanding that I won’t get 2x every week (somedays I’ll be the one doing the jazz band run, for instance…). But worth a shot. I am definitely running 3x a week, and working out more times than that, so that’s good…

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