How My Son Got Me to Work Out at the Crack of Dawn

2 years ago

Editor's note: Working out on a regular (or even semi-reg) basis is kind of like taking part in NaBloPoMo. You have to show up and do the work every day, no excuses. This post was originally published on November 17. --Nicole

How do you do it? Sometimes I wonder myself. I work out at 6 a.m. three days a week. People think I’m crazy and/or stupid. I can’t help it. I like getting it out of the way.

Photo Credit: shoezle.

Supposedly, more calories are burned if I work out on an empty stomach first thing in the morning -- a bigger bang for the buck. If I went later, I might skip the workout to go to coffee with a friend or attend a board meeting. This way, I can have it both ways: a workout and coffee.

I used to be like the majority of the population, saving the gym for after work. After my second kid, it all changed. It’s his fault I workout at the crack of dawn.

When my youngest was almost one, he woke up at 6 a.m. every day. I could sit around with him and play or take him on a run before the summer heat turned the roads into gooey tar. I loaded him into the jog stroller and pushed my workout pal through the neighborhood. One day, I literally ran into a neighbor who went out at the same time with a group of her friends. She offered to let me run with them.

They talked a lot as they ran. I could save my energy for running or talking. I chose listening. Running with a stroller is strenuous. My new fit friends offered to push my baby for a better workout. I might be stupid enough to run at 6 a.m., but I’m not going to turn down a break.

Sharing my son meant I could keep up with the group. From there, I met the ladies three days a week for five years, sans my son after one year. I built up enough endurance to talk and even a half-marathon. And that’s how my son forced me into morning workouts. I was addicted, and it was his doing.

Eventually one of my knees gave out. Surgery or quit running, those were my choices. I picked up swimming, the sport us runners thought would be worse to do at 6 AM in 26 degrees in December. We were wrong. The pool deck is only awful for about a minute. Diving into a pool of bath water is downright relaxing and refreshing, way better than sweating in the cold for 45 minutes.

Fifteen years later, my son is still getting me out of bed, but even earlier. His year-round swim practices are at 5:30 a.m. two days a week. Now I get up at 5 in the morning to assemble his breakfast so it’s somewhat hot and fresh at 7:15, after his practice. I know, the things we moms do for our kids, right?

I drive him to practice and sit in my car until almost 6, for my swim. I am amazed how just fifteen minutes of dosing energizes a person. Or I catch up on email or current events. As long as I'm in the pool parking lot, I swim. It would be more stupid for me to leave than to swim before the world awakes.

I’m thankful I have 15 years of experience working out in the wee hours. I empathize with the moms that get their kids to practice without the fringe benefit of working out too. I think it takes far more energy to drop a kid a 5:30 a.m. practice than to workout right along with him. I don’t linger in my swimsuit around the team or in the showers. My son is very glad I don’t. I am too, EEK. I try to seem as if I’m not even there, even though my son gets all the credit for my presence.

I have to say, the two sets of sleepy eyes peering out the windshield into the pre-dawn sky and electronic dance music piercing the quiet, make for an odd sense of mother-son bonding at 5:15 a.m.. I cherish this time as I know it will not last forever, and I’m thinner for it thanks to him.

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