A typical day is filled with obstacles that threaten your five-miler. It might be the staff meeting doughnut fest that could sabotage a workout, or the exploding inbox of e-mails that makes it tough to unplug and lace up. And then there’s that Conan habit that could have you reaching for the snooze button instead of your shoes.
Whether you exercise in the morning, afternoon, or evening, how you go about your day has a direct impact on the quality of your run. “All of the actions we take during the day can enhance or hinder our workouts,” says Aimee Kimball, Ph. D., director of mental training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Sports Medicine. “Eat smart, get enough sleep, stretch your legs, and those actions can lead to a faster pace, less fatigue, and better attitude when you run.” To perform your best, you’ve got to plan your day right. Here’s how.
5:30 A.M. Don’t Hit Snooze
Morning runners should resist the temptation. Unless you’re chronically sleep deprived, get up with your alarm and run. “Once you get going, you’ll feel better, and the running will help shake off the sleepiness,” says Thomas Balkin, Ph. D., chief of the department of behavioral biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. “The occasional night of inadequate sleep will not have catastrophic results.”
7 A.M. Shower
Start your postrun shower with at least a few minutes of cool water for a mini version of an ice-bath. “Cold water constricts blood vessels to reduce swelling,” says Michael Conlon, P. T., of Finish Line Physical Therapy in New York City. Haven’t run yet? Crank the faucet to warm, and then afterward, stretch while toweling off to loosen up tight muscles.
7:30 A.M. Drink Water
And continue throughout the day. “Your urine should be pale yellow,” says Lisa Dorfman, M. S., R. D., director of sports nutrition and performance at the University of Miami. “Clear urine probably means you’re overhydrated. Apple juice-colored urine could mean you’re dehydrated.”
7:45 A.M. Eat Smart
Morning runners need carbs (for energy) and protein (for muscle recovery), Dorfman says. Running at noon? Opt for fruit with oatmeal or a whole-wheat bagel. “The meal before your next run should be the most carb-rich of the day,” she says.
8 A.M. Dress for Success
Choose footwear with good support and cushioning. Avoid narrow shoes—squeezing into them after a midday run can exacerbate blisters and pinch swollen feet.
9 A.M. Ignore Your Inbox
“Reset your e-mail so it doesn’t ‘ding’ every time you receive a new message, and check it as infrequently as you can,” says Marsha Egan, author of Inbox Detox. “It takes four minutes to recover from any interruption. If you check e-mail 30 times, that’s 120 minutes of wasted time every day.” That’s time you could use to work out.
10 A.M. Snack
Eating a 200-calorie mini-meal (energy bar; yogurt) two hours before a lunch-hour run will fuel your workout. It’ll also help you resist the conference room doughnuts, which may make you feel lethargic, cranky, and achy during your sweat session.
10:30 A.M. Take a Walk
Stretch your legs every 60 minutes. “Get blood flowing to your leg muscles to alleviate stiffness,” Conlon says.