A great way to start your day is with a morning ride. It could change your perspective for the rest of the day and you will feel great while everyone else is slowly waking up at their jobs.
Benefits of the Morning Ride
Starting your day with exercise is a great practice. The easiest reason is that you get your ride in before you start the rest of your day. There will not be anything to sidetrack you from your ride later in the day: low energy, extra work, lack of motivation, enticing last minute plans. Life throws all sorts of roadblocks at you as your day progresses. It benefits you to get a jump on the day and avoid the roadblocks altogether.
Waking up early to exercise helps you sleep at night. Early morning exercise, when there is a rush of hormones from waking, lowers blood pressure. The lower blood pressure carries throughout the day, in turn resulting in better sleep (lower blood pressure and better sleep are linked). Once you get this cycle going, you will feel great.
Getting out before rush hour is the easiest way to have the roads mostly to yourself. Most people are still sleeping or getting ready for their day while you are in the thick of yours, doing something immensely enjoyable.
You will benefit longer from the release of hormones related to exercise. The “runner’s high” feeling will jump start your day. Even after the hormones have subsided, your mind will already be used to the good feelings that started your day, continuing on that trajectory. This, along with knowing that you are more in shape already is a great way to start a day.
Riding first thing requires planning. You have to have everything ready to go so you can maximize your time on the bike and minimize your time searching in the dark for everything you need while trying to stay quiet so you don’t wake anyone else up.
Lay Out Your Gear
Do this the night before you ride. You do not want to scramble in the dark, post sleep haze and forget something. Put all of the riding clothes you think you might need in one place. The bathroom is convenient so you can do your business, get dressed and brush your teeth all in one fell swoop. Have your food ready to go. Bottles should be full and on the bike. Make sure your bike is dialed and functioning perfectly with a fully charged light if you’re leaving in the dark.
Figure out what you can stomach quickly and comfortably. On rides of an hour or less, you probably do not need anything unless your ride will be very intense. Another possibility is to prepare food that you can bring on the ride and eat it during the beginning of the ride. Some people need coffee to wake up. If that is the case, then have some coffee ready to go. An even better plan is to ween yourself off of coffee so your body can wake up naturally, removing another step in your wake up routine.
If one of your goals is to lose weight, then exercising before eating is most effective. This study shows that even with a terrible diet, participants gained no weight when they fasted before exercise. The other two groups gained significant weight and developed insulin resistance.
If you are looking to boost performance in your ride as opposed to losing weight, then eating is best. You will get the most out of each pedal stroke.
Ensure that you get enough sleep the night before. It is not worth compromising a good night’s sleep to get up early and ride. You will not feel great and it may dissuade you from trying more morning rides. A good tip to ensure good sleep is to turn off electronics about an hour before bed. The blue wavelength that their screens emit cause an alert state in the brain by suppressing melatonin production, a hormone that induces sleep.
People have different amounts of time they need between waking up and being functional humans. Some can jump out of bed and straight onto the bike. Others need lots of time. Figure out what works for you so you can be fully awake and pedal effectively. You want to feel good on the bike so you can get used to getting the morning ride in.
Settle on a route before going to bed. The routes you choose should be familiar; limited duration morning rides are generally not for exploring. You should also know how long you will be out on each one. If you have an hour to ride on a given morning, you take your hour long route. An additional thought is to have a route that has a few escape paths in case you have a flat or other mechanical. It will allow you to fix the mechanical and still get to your first morning destination on time.
Morning Rides are the Best
There are a few challenges to getting out for a morning ride, but they are easy to overcome. A little planning and preparation goes a long way to starting a successful morning ride routine. Once you get the ball rolling it becomes easy, sometimes even necessary when your body is accustomed to the the morning ride.