Welcome to the 6AM Club
Why? Might you ask. Why get up early and put yourself through the ordeal of diving into a cold pool? Why go down to your garage and sit on your turbo trainer in the depths of winter whilst it’s still dark outside? Why lace up your shoes and run through an unfamiliar city surrounded by drunkards emerging from night clubs?
The answer couldn’t be simpler. Because you can.
Disclaimer: The 6AM club is open all hours before you eat breakfast. For some people that’s 4AM or 5AM, for others it’s 8AM. The concept remains the same.
Training in the morning has many benefits, and if used correctly can be a great addition to your weekly training or exercise schedule. Bearing in mind that it’s important to manage the intensity levels (keep them low), and that you shouldn’t train on an empty stomach every single morning, the morning workout has many physical and psychological benefits. The Joy of the Morning Jog
I’ve seen a bear in Colorado, explored Central Park in NYC, gotten lost in the streets of Geneva (Yes, Geneva), run along the shores of a Norwegian Fjord and seen countless sunrises on the Lac Léman. The hardest part of the morning run is always lacing up the shoes, once you take that first step the rest is easy.
There is something inherently pleasing about a morning jog, you can set off without any particular objectives in mind, enjoy the calmness of the world and revel in the fact you’re up early and working out whilst others are still sleeping (this last one sounds pretentious, but I promise it never gets old). Amongst one of the many benefits of the morning jog is the ‘Runner’s High’. This is the effect created by the endorphins released into your bloodstream whilst running. It leads to a sensation of well being and will usually leave you in a good mood and with a clear mind for the day ahead. Often, a morning jog before what you anticipate being a stressful day at work will help you put things into perspective and maybe even solve a few problems as well.
Moreover, for those looking to lose weight or athletes looking to improve their ability to metabolise fat; the morning jog can be a good addition to your weekly training schedule. Due to your low level of blood sugar in the morning (this is because you fast for a long period overnight), exercising on an empty stomach forces your body to tap into other sources of energy (muscle glycogen, liver glycogen, fatty acids) to fuel your session. On top of that, whatever you eat for breakfast always tastes better when you’ve worked-out beforehand (if you know, you know!).
Swimming Early vs Late
Telling people that you get up at 5:30am to dive into a cold pool throughout the depths of winter is usually met with a weird look and a scrunched eyebrow, or two. Now admittedly it doesn’t sound particularly appealing. Even if you tell yourself that it’s ‘normal’ because there are 20 other people doing it with you, it really isn’t. Despite what you may think, swimming this early in the morning is surprisingly pleasant. On top of all the abovementioned benefits of morning runs, you also get a free dose of ‘eau de chlorine’ that even the most thorough of showers struggles to eliminate.
When you consider that the alternative is swimming from 8:30pm to 10:00pm at night, the morning swim brings added benefits of improved sleep and recovery. (What? But you woke up at 5:30am?). Now this may sound counterintuitive but exercising early rather than late in the day will help you sleep better. This is because when you exercise not only will your heart rate increase, but so will your core body temperature. This is a natural response to exercise, and it often takes hours after the end of training for your body to return to its normal state. An elevated core body temperature is counter-productive to good sleep, as the process of falling asleep requires a slightly lowered core body temperature. Any of you that have gone for a run, or a swim, late in the evening will most likely have experienced this as you may have struggled to fall asleep afterwards and experienced a poor night’s sleep. If you are consistently training in the evening and sleeping poorly this will negatively impact your ability to recover from training, and poor recovery in the medium to long term can lead to overuse injuries and burnout.
Finally, I am also of the opinion that one of the last things I want to do after a day in the office is leave my house again to go training. If the session is done and dusted in the morning, then it’s in the books and you no longer have to think about it.
In conclusion, if I’ve ever dragged you out for a 6am (or earlier) training session I’m not going to apologise, because I know that you reaped its benefits and you don’t regret it. Whilst I’m not yet an expert in training, sleep or psychology (if you’re interested, I recommend you read up on the subjects for yourselves), but I do speak from experience and recommend you try it out for yourselves.
PS. The first rule of the 6AM Club is, you do not talk about the 6AM Club. For further rules, see Rule 1.