As a competitive swimmer, early morning training has been a staple of my lifestyle ever since I was 11 years old. This was when I joined my first ‘big’ swimming club in Colchester, Essex. Swimming from 6am-7.30am 5 days a week was suddenly added to my list of extra-curricular activities. I can remember my excitement the first few weeks of training. Getting up in the dark before school was special and also meant fresh pancakes in the car (a BIG thank you to my mum who gave up more sleep than I could have asked for to get me to the pool). However after a month or two and soon the lack of sleep, arriving to school with wet hair and smelling of chlorine started to outweigh the pancakes. Regardless, here I am 10 years later, and I still have several alarms set before 5am. There are a few important reasons which have kept me training in the early hours (I have 5 to be exact) which I would like to share with you in this post.
- The best way to start your day
It’s true! Nothing beats the feeling once you have had a swim, to then start the rest of your day feeling fresh and energised. You will also find yourself more focused and able to concentrate better during the rest of the day. So if you often have an energy dip while sitting at your desk in the afternoon, this could be the answer to your problem. The release of endorphins from exercise will boost your mood too. When you complete a morning workout, you start your day on an endorphin rush, which has a very positive impact on your mental state. Plus breakfast will have never tasted better.
- More health benefits that you could imagine
When you wake up feeling sluggish and tired, going for a swim will decrease fatigue and boost your energy. As you are swimming, oxygen and nutrients travel around your body to the heart and lungs, improving your cardiovascular system. As you probably know, swimming generally is great for muscle toning, burning some calories and aiding in weight loss. So why not get all that done before most people are even awake? It also makes you breath more efficiently, improve flexibility, and can lower the risk of some diseases and medical conditions… to name a few. Equally if you are stressed, starting your day with a relaxing float in the pool can improve your mental health. It is basically a morning meditation session in disguise.
- Catch the sunrise
This one is more applicable if you are lucky enough to have an outdoor pool near you, or maybe the sea. Open water morning swimming can truly take your breath away. Steam drifting into the air off of an untouched pool surface while the sun starts to peep over the horizon – paints quite the romantic picture. I won’t lie, the first jump into the cold water can also take your breath away in a different sense, but once you have fought through those first strokes, the rewards are immense. If you have an outdoor pool near you I would definitely recommend heading there at opening time.
- Try something different
This is pretty self-explanatory but trying something new to break up your normal routine can be a welcome change. You never know, you might even find yourself looking forward to waking up and heading to the pool! And even if it isn’t swimming, going for a jog or to the gym will equally bring a healthy activity into your morning. So if you don’t already, give it a go!
- Social time
Last but not least, to give yourself even more motivation to go for that morning swim, why not go with a friend? You are much more likely to stick to the routine if someone is doing it with you. Plus, this is a great opportunity to have fun, socialise and spend time together while relaxing and keeping fit. You may even be able to persuade your family to come with you too. (note to any mums – pancakes are an effective bribe).
So there you have it, I have made my case for early morning swimming and now it is over to you. The hardest part is turning off the alarm and getting up, rather than hitting snooze and rolling over. But once you have managed this, the rest is easy. My tip is to get everything ready the night before so that your path out of bed is simple and you don’t have to try and think too much at 5am. Then all that’s left is reaping the benefits and rewards from the experience… and a full English afterwards.