6 Reasons You Will Learn to Love Your Early AM Practices

  16 Olivier Poirier-Leroy | January 27th, 2016 | Lifestyle, Olivier Leroy, Training

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.

Yes, that sounds like complete rubbish. Who could possibly like getting up at 4:45am and heading to the pool? Especially on those cold, frosty winter mornings? But there are some hidden benefits to reluctantly brushing aside the sheets and making the commute down to the pool.

After all, the early morning wake-up call is a proving ground in a lot of ways. It’s a moment where you can choose to turn the other cheek and pretend you never heard the alarm go off, or you can squash the short-term pleasure of a couple hours of extra sleep for long term success and satisfaction.

Here are six benefits of not uppercutting the snooze button early in the morning:

1. Teaches discipline.

Discipline and self-control gets a bit of a bad rep in today’s world where we are expected to have a shortcut or a supplement for everything. Heeding the alarm in the morning is an opportunity to prove to yourself that your word is worth something. That if you promise yourself you are going to do it, it may as well already be done. It would be an understatement to say this is a valuable life skill

While self-discipline may seem like it’s just for those who are uptight and miserable, research has shown that not only are those that exert self-control happier in the long run, they are also happier in the moment. So go forth and be disciplined and a little more satisfied as a result.

2. Encourages better planning and time management.

Planning out the day before, instead of simply being in a reactionary state from the time you wake up, has a couple benefits. With packed bags and prepared meals the primary and obvious benefit is an extra few minutes of sleep the following morning. We all know the things we would do for just a few more minutes of that warm bed. Additionally, I always found that being prepared allowed me a certain peace of mind that helped me fall asleep a little easier at night.

3. It teaches us that to succeed we need to do what others aren’t willing to do.

The path to success isn’t littered with only the things you want to do. It’s things just like this that separates those that excel at meet time with the rest.

It is no accident or secret that when comparing AM and PM workouts that morning practices have the poorest attendance. Swimming as an age grouper the attendance sheets were consistently docked with numerous red X’s for each of the early morning workouts. It was a rare moment of triumph for our coaches when absolutely everyone in the group showed up to an AM workout.

For myself, I loved being there knowing others were skipping out. I had no doubt that cross-town and cross-country competitors were doing the exact same thing in their own home pools, and often times that is just the mental edge you need when it comes time to stepping up on the blocks.

4. Serves as a litmus test for how committed we are to our swimming.

Missing morning practice is often emblematic of a swimmer’s attitude towards their swimming. The occasional miss is understandable, but a committed athlete is unwilling to allow valuable training opportunities go to waste. Nearly without exception the results of this commitment is reflected in competition.

As a bonus, because early morning sessions tend to attract the committed types, I found the work being done is frequently at a higher level than PM practices when everyone is present.

5. Once up, you’re less likely to skip out on the workout.

Once past the whole getting up part of the equation, you’ll find that you are more consistent with your AM workouts. Things rarely pop out of nowhere at 6am to derail you from your workout. PM workouts bring with them another set of conflicting issues. A long workday, a sudden influx of homework assignments, or the fatigue from the day can often railroad your nightly practice.

6. There is something about being up before everyone else.

Once out of those sheets, making the half-awake commute to the pool, and slipping into a soggy and cold bathing suit (should have hung the suit up the night before!), you toe up to the edge of the pool, and look down the still lane.

Outside the world is dark and still asleep, the pool deck quiet save for the teammates putting up the backstroke flags. The water flat, placid and calm. After submitting to the cold water, taking those first few strokes, the familiarity of your stroke quickly rushing back to you, you can smile to yourself knowing that you’re not only doing more than the next athlete, but that you are back home.

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  1. Blaine in Calgary says:

    I am 54. Not a 19 year old competative swimmer. But, I have to ask myself, ” I must be willing to do what others can not”. to get out of that warm bed, venture in -20C and jump in the pool at 5:30 AM. It is paying off though in so many ways; mental toughness, lost 40 lbs, better business accumen ( my head seems to be working a bit better). So, stick with it young people, these skills and habit forming will pay off x10000’s later in life, too! I started seriously swimming november 2014. so this is new to me. wish I started 20 years ago!

  2. Kyle Schack says:

    A schedule heavy on morning workouts frees up important time in the afternoon. In my experience swimmers were more efficient and successful in their studies with morning workouts. They also have time to socialize including actually being able to eat dinner with the rest of the family.

  3. nickgarciataria says:

    I’ve always preferred morning practices over afternoon. I feel more ready for the day after a morning practice.

  4. ITR says:

    And where are the 66 reasons why you hate early AM practices? 🙂 I’m joking…anyways, I do believe these things listed here are really valuable but you hardly ever notice them until you are over let’s say 20. if I had chosen the title of the article I would have said something like 6 reasons why you will later appreciate your early morning practices. The other reason why I would use “appreciate” is that I have yet to meet someone who said “I love morning practices”. and I have met and talked to thousands of swimmers.Love is a pretty strong word in my world but Americans are just tossing it around everywhere.

  5. LU says:

    It’s funny how one article few weeks ago you guys just wrote about too early practices for university students and now this. LOL

  6. mlrsca says:

    and kudos to the parents who drive their motivated non-driver kids to the pool in the dark allowing all these lessons to be learned…always feel specially thankful to this groups of moms and dads

  7. ozsu says:

    Feeling accomplished at 8am is the best possible way to start your day.

  8. mcmflyguy says:

    Theres always that one day a week that’s a really tough practice, when you get through that then realize oh look the suns coming up, and now everyone is waking up. You feel like a beast cause you’ve worked out before most people have set feet on the ground.

  9. Water Rat says:

    I love knowing once I’m on my way to work that I’ve done something great for myself and my health. I love the comradery with my teammates and the motivation we provide each other when we need it.

  10. swimmaster77 says:

    I just like AM practices because there are not too many other people in your lane

  11. Kari K says:

    As a morning person I love this and it stands for just about any sport. As an adult, it also gives more opportunity to hit an impromptu happy hour after work without having to think about an evening practice. 🙂

  12. This applies to those of us who are lucky enough to have access to an outdoor pool:

    6. There is a special feeling one gets deep into one’s soul about swimming as the sun rises. If you are a true water baby, no matter your level, you will understand this statement.

  13. liquidassets says:

    The way I look at it from a master’s swimmer’s perspective; you’re going to be tired at the end of the day anyway, be it from school, and/or work, parenting, job-hunting, or what have you. Might as well be the “good” tired from morning workout instead of trying to summon the time and energy at 6pm, not to mention the unexpected demands that come up during the course of the day. The getting up part sucks but as your said there’s nothing like the feeling of strength from emerging from a morning workout feeling relaxed and ready to face the day… with a little caffeine of course!

  14. It is easy to correlate these universal truths and their relevancy to just any success in life. That being said I am biased to aquatic sports and these things will absolutely help you learn to love the 0430 wake up (so will living in the desert where it is never below 70 degrees)

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About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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