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  • Apr

    The Cure for the Morning Workout: A Good Sleep & A Good Breakfast

    By Garrett Weber-Gale, 2-time Gold Medalist

    Morning workouts can be a swimmer’s worst enemy. Waking up early for practice is almost never fun, nor something you look forward to. However, there are three things that can dramatically change the way you feel, both when you wake up for morning workout, and during the grueling morning session of training:

    1. Know your ‘why’
    2. Go to sleep earlier
    3. Eat breakfast before heading to the pool

    Waking up early is hard. Pushing your mental and physical limits, in the pool, is hard. However, having a complete understanding of what your goals are (giving yourself a ‘why’) can make all the difference in the world. For instance, I knew in the deepest part of my heart that I wanted to go to the Olympics. I thought about the Olympics every single day. I visualized what the races would feel like. I wrote goals and kept a journal about the road to the Olympics.

    My dream made getting up for morning workout easier, because I instantly knew why getting up early was so important. I could see a direct connection between morning workouts, and the impact those workouts would make on achieving my dream. Find your ‘why’!

    If you wake up and are absolutely exhausted, you went to bed too late. Sure, you may just be run-down from all the workouts, but it’s likely that going to bed an hour earlier would have made you feel a heck of a lot better…not to mention, you will perform at a higher level in the pool. While there are so many distractions that can draw our attention away from what we really should be doing (getting sleep), it’s absolutely critical to think back to the ‘why’, and get the sleep we need to perform at your best.

    Too many swimmers pass up breakfast, in order to get 15 more minutes of sleep. HUGE mistake! Eating breakfast is what your body is going to require in order to power through the last 30 minutes of that tough morning workout. Don’t be afraid to get up and eat.

    Here are two things to think about:

    • If you’re worried about upsetting your stomach try starting with something small, and/or eat more time before the start of morning workout.
    • If you’re not sure what is going to make you perform the best, start writing down everything that you eat and drink before workout. Write notes down about how what you ate and drank made you feel and perform during practice. Slowly, you will begin to understand what breakfast makes you feel the best. I competed for almost 20 years, and I was still fine tuning…the process takes time.

    My favorite breakfast for before morning workout:

    • Ingredients: traditional rolled oats, dried cherries, milled flax seeds, chia seeds, almond butter, almond milk, honey.
    • Directions: mix all ingredients in a Tupperware, the night before workout. When you’re ready to eat, enjoy cold (as I do), or heat up in a microwave for 60-90 seconds.

    A few other options that you might enjoy before a morning workout include:

    • Cereal with dried fruits and nuts
    • PB&J sandwich
    • Wheat toast with Nutella, and a handful of almonds
    • Pita with hummus
    • Granola bar
    • Baked oatmeal
    • Banana with a handful of nuts

    Coaches hold morning workouts for a purpose. Make sure you’re taking these three steps to heart, so you can perform at your best!

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