Rise before the world - at 5:30 6-ish I'm probably the only one awake in my apartment complex. The world is so quiet and the air is crisp and fresh. I can tell everyone is still asleep by the silent hum around me and it's like this weird "twilight zone" time of day. I'm pretty grumpy on my walk to the gym but I've already made up my mind to go. The thought that there are only a handful of people including myself up at this time really makes you feel like you're experiencing a different part of life that most people tend to sleep through.
Quiet time to reflect - with all this solitude I can take a moment to pause and think clearly about life, my day or anything that might be on my mind. Human interaction doesn't really exist at this time so it's just a girl and her thoughts running for no particular reason to no particular place. I catch my rhythm by the second mile and after that it's just me and my brain having a conversation.
Control of my day - by doing something I choose first thing in the morning I'm taking control of my day. I got up this early not for work but for me. It means that Mondays are no longer "work" days but instead the first run of each week. That really changes your psychology when you think about it. It takes back the power we tend to lose in this paycheck driven life and sets the tone for the rest of the week.
Eat the frog - when you do something as difficult as running 3-6 miles first thing in the morning you are truly "eating the frog". Anything that may happen the rest of the day will most likely be less difficult mentally and physically. This helps me put things into perspective whenever I sense pressure or stress. I just tell myself, hey you did this tough thing already, so this really isn't as hard in comparison. After you reach a certain level of fitness (And no, I don't mean skinny,..) your run becomes 95% mental. You're not tired physically, your brain is just not conditioned for this strenuous activity. By training your mind to do this you develop not only endurance but self control, self awareness, and discipline.
Put myself first - usually when you think of treating yourself you picture facials, shopping sprees, things like that. But for some reason I feel that making time for your health by exercising is the best way to treat yourself. Exercise ensures you are healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally. Did you know that exercise can fight depression and anxiety? There are these things called endorphins that cause "runner's high". Trust me, it's the real deal.
Make myself proud - if you work a 9-5 job you're probably making sure you get your job done properly so you don't get in trouble or fired. If you commute you're constantly making sure you don't break any laws. You try to have a good relationship with your family and friends. You make sure you look clean and well put together for the office. So basically you knowingly or unknowingly try to impress everyone around you. When I do my run in the morning I impress myself first. I'm amazed first of all that I even got out of bed and made it to the gym. But to then run three miles most days just really makes me proud of myself.
So guys, I'm not telling you to run in the morning. no one told me to. I just happened to do it one day and liked the results. I'm still not a morning person. And I'm still super pissed off as I leave my warm comfy bed to walk through the parking lot on cold mornings. But we do a lot of things we don't want to do in life anyway that is usually dictated by someone else. So I decided to do something for me first thing in the morning to make time for myself. So far I have no complaints. I'm more mindful of what I put in my body the rest of the day, I'm less stressed at work and have a lot more energy. Not to mention I'm getting stronger, faster and sleeping better.
In the end I think as long as you exercise (regardless of time of day) you're doing your body a huge favor. Whatever time you choose just remember that consistency is key :)