RI Blog #15: I’m So Not A Morning Person

I’m So Not A Morning Person

September 18, 2008

I used to be a morning person when it came to rowing. I used to be able to roll out of bed and into my car and then do a full workout without having any breakfast. Then I realized that food helped my performance on the water (duh), so I started having oatmeal & coffee. But, being the creature of habit that I am, that meant I had to savor my coffee and have the usual hang-out-in-front-of-the-TV-and-wake-up time along with it. So my wake-up time became earlier. Nevertheless, I still managed it. Even when I lived in the suburbs and attempted serious winter training during 2001-2002. I was dedicated. Up at 4:15 every morning, out of the house at 5:00, on the erg at 5:30, even on the most frigid, ice-encrusted mornings.

I kept up this schedule for years during the rowing season. Most mornings anyway. But often that was because I was part of a group and didn’t want to miss out. There’s something about that group dynamic that forces your mind into conformity. You become like a robot, laying out the clothes (I have to wear a friggin suit & tie every day), putting the gym bag together, putting it all in the car, setting up your breakfast (I still do that) – all the night before. Oh yeah, and I had to eat dinner, read to the kids, etc. as well, and still try to be in bed by 9:00-9:30. It was a lot of work, but once you become automated, it gets easier.

No longer!! Time and injuries do something to the mindset. Ok, maybe just my mindset. This year, I live close to the boathouse and I have more free time during the evenings. As a result, I have gotten into the habit of working out in the evening after work. There are two huge benefits to this. First of all, I’m awake and have been moving around all day. My muscles are naturally warmed up. My brain works – at least a lot better than it does in the morning. And since I’ve slept in, I’m pretty well rested. Second, I have a new training partner this year, Greg Walker, and he and I have been doing the evening thing for the past month or so, turning it into a daily routine. Usually there’s a phone call, then we meet somewhere between Riverside and Belmont Hill and do the workout. Having someone else there makes a huge difference.

Now the one downside to all this is that most of the other scullers who I want to test myself against row in the morning (not that Greg is any slacker; that’s another benefit to this summer’s evening workouts – he’s a hell of a lot more accomplished than I am). But if I want to join the larger group, I have to somehow get my buns out of bed in the dark and totally disrupt my routine. I tried this yesterday morning with disastrous consequences. I went to bed relatively early the night before. I had done two workouts that day and was really beat. I had a huge dinner and set my alarm for 4:30. But for some reason – probably the subconscious knowledge that I couldn’t sleep in, which has become one of the greatest pleasures of my life – I had a really weird dream and woke up suddenly at 2:30 AM. Wide awake til 4:00, at which point I said screw it, sleeping has become way more important than rowing at this point (and besides, Sean’s not REALLY expecting me to show up ready for the first piece at 6:00 at BU, is he?). So I crashed on the couch, watching TV, and eventually dozed off. It was a horrendous night’s sleep. I was so tired yesterday that I bagged all workouts.

I’ve tried many times to get up. A few weeks ago, I promised the “training group” that I’d be there for sure on Saturday morning, ready to do the 2 x Head of the Charles pieces that we usually do this time of year. Yup, I emailed the group. I’m in. I’m so there. Well, Saturday came and I slept right through it with no shame whatsoever. Ok, I had shame and guilt, but not enough to get me out of bed. WTF?? Man did I hear about that one. Martin Schwartz coined a new name for me, “John ‘Big Talker Late Sleeper’ Tracey.” Ouch. Man the truth hurts.

So this morning I conceded to my new schedule. Slept in, got like 9 hours, and now I’m ready to roll against Greg tonight. I think we’ll do Heather Moon’s workout – that she did….this morning.

When I have to race in the morning, then I’ll get up. Honest I will. I promise.

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