How to wake up in the morning to avoid the heat

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As I mentioned last time, it is extremely hot right now and us runners, we have to be very careful to stay safe and hydrated in such weather.
Therefore, if you want to keep running the great outdoors, the recommended running times are early morning and late evening, when the temperatures are manageable. Both times have their advantages and disadvantages, but there are several benefits of running in the morning:

  • you strengthen your discipline
  • by the time you arrive at work, you’ll be fully awake and your brain will be well oxygenated, what may improve your work performance
  • if you drive a car to work, being well awake makes you drive safer
  • your afternoons and evenings are free, so you can do whatever you like… even run again!
  • running improves your mood, making the whole day more pleasant and can help you cope with stressful situations
  • you get to enjoy the sunrises
  • you feel like a badass!

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However, waking up early to get your run can be a struggle, especially when you’re a night owl. I know I am, and, so far, I find it very difficult to wake up in the morning for my runs. I used to run in the morning around January/February, and I enjoyed it a lot. I hope I can do that again, in my opinion – it is worth it!

Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks one can use to join the Early Morning Crew. Here’s what I’m going to do to help myself wake up early enough.

  1. Make sure you prepare your run before, so you don’t need much effort in the morning. Lay out your running gear. If you follow a training plan, check your schedule in the evening so you know what run type and distance you need to do. Prepare your route beforehand, if you need that. Watch an inspirational video. Rise and Shine is a great one!
  2. Start small and do only your short runs in the mornings, so you do not need that much time.
  3. Take small steps. By moving your alarm clock backwards 20-30 minutes each week, you help a gradual transition.
  4. Move your phone/alarm clock out of your reach so you have to actually stand up to turn it off, and set up the most annoying sound for the alarm.
  5. Remember: There was a reason you set that alarm clock in the first place.
  6. Keep waking up earlier even on rest days, or if you run in the evening. You can use the extra time do some cross-training or maybe you can show up early for work and leave early, too.
  7. Don’t forget to warm up before running!
  8. If you need to, eat something small. Bananas and peanut butter toasts are great.
  9. Drink a glass of water with few drops of lemon juice after you wake up.
  10. Go to sleep early.

There is one more thing you can do, which is out of my reach, but it might help you. It is to find a running buddy or group to keep you determined to show up for training.

I hope this weekend I can write here a summary of my beautiful morning runs!

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Do you struggle with early mornings?
What are your tips and tricks for early morning runs?

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Days 151 – 157: Week 6 of 10k training

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Another week in the books, and it was a quite hectic and eventful one. Running-wise, I feel like I could push myself harder, but I am satisfied with how it went overall.

Tuesday – Running with the Girls

It’s amazing to see an army of girls running and training together. Even though the interval training wasn’t that very long or intensive, we had the opportunity to test out the Adidas Ultra Boost shoes, which I reviewed afterwards. We ran up and down a hill, raced against each other, squatted, planked and walked lounges; my hamstrings certainly got their part of the work done.

Thursday – the Day of a Spider-Monkey (wall climbing)

My planned 7k was postponed by a day to make place for a wall-climbing event. It was really great! It was my second time ever (previous one was two years ago) and I enjoyed it so much. It’s a good workout for the whole body (and, surprisingly, I wasn’t even sore afterwards) plus we finished with a nice get-together with a beer and some talks. I am considering enrolling for an actual course and including wall climbing into my workout routine… if I find the time for it.

Friday – 7k comfortable 

I had absolutely no mood for anything, so I decided to run comfortably in place of a fast run. I went to a yoga class first, what normally gives me very pleasant runs afterwards, but this time it wasn’t the case. I struggled through it and couldn’t really make it good for myself, made walking breaks, and was glad when it was over.

Distance: 7.1k
Time:       43:01

Saturday: 5k slow run

Yes, I still struggle with “slow” runs. They are never slow enough, I always fall back to my comfortable pace, and even with walking break, stopping to tie my shoelaces, smelling the flowers, I end up way ahead of the recommended pace. At least it was slower than the other runs.

Distance: 5.4k
Time:       35:10

Sunday: 10k fast run
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Being my first attempt on 10k, I did not push myself too hard and ran at a comfortable pace instead of a fast pace, and even took a walking break around halfway.
Now I know I can run a 10k, so I am ready for the race in Amsterdam; I also know I can do it under 1 hour, what I kind of expected, but wasn’t really sure about.

How did your week go? Any new accomplishments?

Day 152: Ultra Boost, baby! And An Army of Girls!

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ultra boost!

By the courtesy of Girls Love 2 Run I had the opportunity to try out the new Adidas Ultra Boost during a short interval training tonight. The training itself was not extremely intensive and the total run time/distance was not very long, but I am happy to let you know what I think about the shoes!

Disclaimer: I was not given the shoes (they were lent to me for the duration of the training) and I was not asked for a review nor received any financial or otherwise compensation for it. All the opinions expressed are my own.

The Plus Side

The Ultra Boosts I was trying out were a very comfortable pair of shoes. They have a nice structure where the tongue is part of the shoe, so it doesn’t move around or to the side, what I really appreciate. The other girls were commenting that they feel a bit like a pair of slippers, and yes you have to slip into them first.
I like how the laces are attached to the side-stripes which are separate from the upper shoe and attached to the sole and the plastic heel counter.

The sole feels thin, but is very soft with surprising amount of cushioning in this amount of material; also, despite how thin it is, it doesn’t make me feel every single stick or pebble on the trail. I have not run with them on the road, only natural trail, therefore I cannot say anything about the cushioning on harder surfaces.

The shoe fits very snugly and the long flap on the heel side protecting the Achilles tendon is actually extremely nice for people like me who often experience chafing at this part of the shoe.

The Cons
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The toebox is relatively narrow and very flat

There were three things which I did not love about these shoes. First was the sizing – my normal shoes are size 40, my running shoes are size 41. These were 41 + 1/3 and they still felt on the small side. The toebox is quite thin and very flat, therefore even though they were fine length-wise, I still felt like I did not have much space. On the other hand, that might mean that gives them the very snug fit and makes them stay in place. Second thing which I didn’t like very much was that the shoelaces were a bit too short. If I ever buy these, I will certainly need longer shoelaces. I tried to tuck them into the sides of my shoes like I do normally, but they kept escaping and getting untied.

The most important problem with these for me was that they felt very warm – much warmer than the shoes I use now (Saucony Jazz). They look like they should have enough ventilation, but the back/middle part of my feet felt really too warm in them.

How did they run?

Very well and comfy. I think these hardly need any breaking in, but I was not wearing them for long enough to experience how to they adjust to the foot. They also have very good traction and even running uphill or on my toes, I did not slip an inch. I did slip a bit on the grass, though, but that was expected.

Just before squatting. Can you find me?

Just before squatting, Can you find me?

It was very nice to participate in the training with 120 other girls! Look at that army in matching shirts! Even though the training itself was a bit too short for me, it was great to meet the running girls again and have some fun together. After the training we received some delicious yoghurt.

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yum

And I am really happy we got to keep the shirts. I love the colour!

Days 144-150: Halfway done!

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MRB enlightened me today that in four weeks we are running the Amsterdam 10k.
We are halfway through the training plan! Can you believe that?

This fifth week of training went very well for me. I ran some very nice times. Over the weekend, I visited a friend for her birthday party in a city on the other side of the country, and spent a fun night full of bus adventures. I went to a concert of my other friend’s band Frankly no Helix which went really great! I danced a lot, so that counts as cross-training, right?

Monday – dance and yoga

Tuesday – 8k fartlek
The decision to do fartleks in place of fixed intervals was one of the best I could have made. My intervals are still not very long (max 600m), but they are getting longer and faster. With all the slow rest, walking and stopping for taking pictures of flowers, I still finished with a 6:07 mins/km average pace.

Part of the credit goes to the breathing technique where I tried the 2/1 breath method (breath in on 2 steps, breath out on 1) during the faster intervals. I noticed I could keep the fast pace for longer that way. The breathing itself feels quite unnatural and has to be a conscious effort, but that might get better over time (I hope).

Distance: 8km
Time:       48:57

Thursday – 8k comfortable/fast run
Being quite exhausted from a lot of work, I needed to take it easy, and decided to run comfortably instead of a fast-paced run. Even though the run was certainly a highlight in my rather poor day, in itself it felt wonderful.

It didn’t start that great, though. I knew I am not going to push for a fast run, but even going at a comfortable pace, the first kilometre felt like a chore. Then, suddenly, I got into the zone I haven’t felt for quite a while, my zen mode, my state of running nirvana, which stayed with me basically till the very end. I didn’t pay attention to anything, not my breath, not my pace, nothing; I just ran in the full automated state when I did not even feel in control of my legs; and, by some kind of magic, I ended up with an identical time as on the Tuesday run.

Distance: 8km
Time:       48:55

Saturday – 5k jog
You can imagine that, after a party and night time adventures, I was glad that the plan called for an easy run. Although, I have to tell you, delicious birthday cake for breakfast is simply an amazing thing, and Amsterdam looks absolutely beautiful at this time of the year. As an example, have some tulips.

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I did not run in Amsterdam, though, I am saving that for the race!

Distance: 5.5km
Time:       37:46

Sunday – 7k fast
Trying the breathing technique I described earlier (and despite the night filled with dancing), I pulled out a really, really nice pace. I am quite proud of this run and how far I improved over these last weeks. At the beginning of this training, I would consider this to be fast for me for a 5k, and now look at me – I am running further and further and my times are getting better and better. By the end of this 7k, though, I felt really tired. But that just means I tried hard enough, right?

Distance: 7.1k
Time:       40:04

On top of that, my FB feed is filled with all the lucky people excited for running the Boston Marathon tomorrow. All the best of luck to everyone! Godspeed!

Day 140: All the hard work paying off

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Life does not always treat us gentle. Even though I am lucky to be able to spend my Easter break back at my family home, there are personal things which made Thursday, April 9th 2015 not the best day ever for me (to say the least).

Our darkest moments are not the ones when everything goes wrong, but the ones when we fail to see the positive things that are still there for us if we only reach out and notice them. Therefore, I tried to do that: to see that not all is bad.

First positive thing: I got woken up by a cat and could stay in bed for a long time, playing with the little black furball.

Second positive thing: It was a warm, sunny spring day – 14°C (that’s 57 for you my imperial system friends) and I decided to wear my fancy new shorts. For the first time ever I did not layer multiple tops and wear long pants to go running. I also wore a brand new long-sleeve top I got from my mother, but no jacket was needed!

Third positive thing: I still had two legs, two eyes and a general health condition suitable for running. And I have friends and kind people around me who care enough to listen to my ramblings about that.

It took me a long time to get myself together, lace up and go. I did a short warm-up because everything felt like forever, and set off. It was supposed to be a fast run – above the comfortable threshold, and that it was for certain. I was huffing and puffing like a broken steam engine and had to slow down two or three times to catch some breath.

My legs felt heavy and weird at some points, like they did not belong to me any more. They hurt. They were red from the wind and running in shorts certainly feels different than long pants. My shoes felt strange. I had to remind myself that I am not a quitter and my mantra became the quote I heard and saw so many times before:

I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when I’m done.

I was pushing it hard and I completely did not have the feeling that it was going to be a good run at all. But all the hard work is paying off. I got a 5k PR. I ran fast.

Distance: 5km
Time:       28:16

What are your positive thoughts you use to push back the gloomy mood?

Days 130 – 136: Week 3 of 10k training

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The second and the third week looked exactly the same in the training plan, so I hoped that I would be able to see improvements from all the speed work I had been busy with in the last weeks. However, that proved to be more difficult than expected. I went home to Poland for Easter (yay!) and had to alter the plan and reschedule and re-purpose some runs, making it less clear to see my progress, if any. Also, the weather hasn’t been great at all, so my running shorts are still waiting for their turn to shine…

So, here’s how my week looked like!

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Days 121 & 122: First week of 10k training

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I know many of you still have to train in the snow and cold, but here where I live the spring is in full swing. I am surprised and delighted by seeing the trees being covered in flowers more and more day by day. I go run in the park more often now and it is so wonderful. Even though the temperatures are not much higher than a month ago, the sun and the views certainly make the weather feel nicer. And oh, the sunsets… in the picture above is the view from my window. I feel blessed and so lucky to be able to enjoy this view so often.

The last week was an example for me how my training will look like the coming two months. I suspect that I am not eating enough for the increased physical activity, as I am getting hungry and tired easily. Fortunately all I have at home to binge on is fruit and nuts, but it’s a signal that I need to either increase my calorie intake or my protein intake. I’ll be experimenting in the next two weeks or so and hopefully I’ll find the proper way to fuel myself.

Saturday

I woke up for the morning yoga class and head off to my slow 5k through the park directly afterwards. It was slow indeed, but I didn’t mind – it was what it was supposed to be. I had all the time to pause and take in the environment and even take some pictures. Other runners were passing me, but I resisted the urge to speed up.

Distance: 5.4km
Time:       37:41

Sunday

Do you know what does not make one well prepared for a fast-paced run? Drinking and dancing at a rave till 6 a.m. does not. I had a great night and a short rest, but that resulted in a difficult run.
The training plan called for a fast run above my anaerobic threshold, so I headed up at a very fast pace, and I managed to keep it up for about 3km. After that, I noticed I was slowing down noticeably, and I did what I haven’t done for a long time now: I took a walking break, and I felt OK about it. Now that’s a big deal. After the walking break I did not feel particularly refreshed or much better, but I was able to pick up my pace and finish the distance in the way that I was supposed to. I did the day 10 of 30 days of yoga with Adriene while looking out of my window and enjoying this:

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Distance: 5.1km
Time:       30:59

Is there spring already where you live, or do you still run in the snow?
Do you enjoy the view from your windows?
Are there any particular things you feel blessed for recently?

Day 119: Like a turtle in peanut butter

Hey, it’s spring equinox tomorrow! And a solar eclipse at the same time! Up to 80% of the eclipse will be visible where I live, what will be quite amazing. Sadly, I will have to be at work, but I might sneak out for an hour or so to watch the most interesting part. If you plan to see it – make sure to protect your eyes, please.

The run today, though, was… difficult. My legs felt like they were filled with lead and my feet hurt at some points, and I felt slow as a turtle in peanut butter. I was surprised that I ran pretty much in the same pace/time as the previous 8k, because it felt so much slower and, in general, worse. On the other hand, the tree I took a picture of last time is now fully covered in blossom. Just look at it! So wonderful! Looking at these pictures, I can almost forget that it’s still pretty chilly outside.

Distance: 8.5km
Time:        57:55

Do you plan on seeing the eclipse?

Day 103: Running with the Girls

Every Tuesday in my city two wonderful women organise a free running event open for girls only. There is no basic level required and everyone is welcome to join, as long as they want to run and are female. This week I decided to join them and it was really cool!

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There’s me in this picture, on the left!

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