How to Get Up for That Morning Workout

Local professional athletes share the strategies they use to stop themselves from hitting the snooze.

Start your day off right with a morning workout. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user lululemon athletica.

Each day the sun rises a tad earlier, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to get out of bed for a morning workout.

While it may be hard to believe, even the most dedicated athletes struggle to wake up and hit the gym first thing in the morning. Fortunately for us, local pros Ken Mierke, Mike Wardian, and Margie Shapiro were kind enough to tell us the secrets to their success. Here are the tips and tricks they use to get themselves out of bed and on the road once that dreaded alarm clock goes off.

1) Wake up at the same time every day.
This can be plenty difficult for some at first, but once you adjust to the new schedule, getting up at 6 every morning will feel like second nature. Triathlete Margie Shapiro says she and her clients have found that being consistent has plenty of benefits: “Sleep quality, metabolism, and training all improve.”

2) “No matter how hard you’re working, there is someone else working harder.”
When professional marathon runner Mike Wardian first started training, he pushed himself by repeating this quote to himself over and over. “I wanted to be the other person working harder,” he says.

3) Think about the future benefits now.
“Learning to experience the joy that will come next month when the fitness benefits are achieved takes the delay out of the gratification,” says two-time world champion triathlete Ken Mierke. Remind yourself each day of the high you get after crossing the finish line, or how pleased you’ll be when you can fit into those smaller jeans. “Keeping thoughts primarily on the benefits rather than the costs—the 5 AM alarm clock, the effort and pain of the workout—is key to maintaining motivation.”

4) “The run won’t be any easier later.”
It’s likely you’ll be swamped at work, with barely any time even to grab a coffee. With that in mind, Wardian says telling himself to wake up and get out the door first thing makes it easier for him to focus on other important tasks for the rest of the day. Shapiro agrees: “I’m comforted by the notion that getting a workout done early means more time for life, work, and family.”

5) Let your kids be your alarm clock.
As any parent knows, it shouldn’t be too hard to make this happen. Says Wardian, “I have help getting up, because if I’m not up and on the treadmill already, I have little boys who come and get me and yell, ‘Daddy! Treadmill!’—two words with a lot of meaning.”

6) Get a workout buddy.
“You would be amazed how well this works,” Wardian says. Knowing that skipping your workout means standing up your partner could be all the motivation you need to get out of bed in the morning. And once you’re together you’ll have someone pushing you to work harder and do better.

7) Put your goals next to your alarm clock.
Trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon or set a new personal record? Get daily reminders of your goals by putting Post-it notes on your night table or taping them to your snooze button, suggests Wardian. They’ll be the last thing you see before you go to bed and the first thing you see when you wake up.

8) Reward yourself with a treat afterward.
The smell of fresh coffee brewing downstairs gets Shapiro up in the morning, while Wardian says there’s nothing like a hot beverage after a run. Even an extra three minutes in a warm shower can do the trick, he adds.