An Imperfect Jigsaw Puzzle


Lisa Ingarfied | @tritodefi

Last year sometime, overwhelmed by the heat of running after work, I vowed to start getting my workouts done before work in the mornings. I was energized and committed. It made sense intellectually; I generally felt better through the day when I ran early, and I was less likely to skip a workout. The reasons to shift to morning running are plenty and the post-work swelter-fest is only one of them.

Here’s why I and other running folks believe running in the morning is better:

  • Exercising early sets you up for the day.

  • It can be easier to get workouts in before taking kids to school versus after work when your kids have a variety of after school activities, events, and homework, not to mention family time and dinner.

  • You can trade off responsibilities with your partner - you get ‘you’ time in the morning, they get it in the evening.

  • Getting a workout completed early brings a sense of satisfaction -- even if the rest of your day goes the way of unproductive nightmare, you can at least be content in the fact you already achieved something useful while many people were still sleeping.

  • Workouts have a tendency of hanging over your head throughout the day -- another task to be completed which by 5pm, you are often in no mood to do.

  • It’s waaaaaay cooler in the summer, reducing the likelihood of sunburn, passing out, or slamming into the metaphorical wall due to dehydration.

Despite all these glorious reason, my “experiment” of morning running or more broadly morning exercising, has been patchy at best. Sometimes I am On. It. and all of the above bullets combined produce enough motivation for me to get out the door before 6am. However, I wish I could say that it was a smooth and permanent transition to this clearly perfect way to exercise.

Since exercising in the morning is the way to do things (obvs...), at least in the summer, my inconsistency at maintaining my plan, leaves me feeling deficient. I am not the perfect runner and triathlete who has all her training and performance puzzle pieces in order, effortlessly integrating a rigorous training schedule into her life. Nope. Not me. At best my training, working, and living combo is an awkward jigsaw of activities that don’t always fit together as seamlessly as I would like. But in that imperfection is the lesson. None of us, unless we are full time professional athletes, can or more importantly, has to do this perfectly. It is more that we are doing it at all.

If you are new to running or exercising, a few months in to trying to establish a routine, or if you are a seasoned pro, it’s okay if things don’t always go to plan. Your training fits into your life, not the other way around. Women, especially, are often the ones juggling multiple responsibilities leaving us to jam our exercise jigsaw piece into our life puzzle when it doesn’t quite fit the way we want it to. After several attempts to squash these jigsaw pieces into the larger picture, we sometimes abandon the task completely because we can’t seem to make it work.

But wait! Don’t clear exercise off your to do list just because the fit is imperfect. Getting out there and doing something, whatever time of day you have time to do so, is always better than doing nothing. If you are training for a marathon or longer triathlon, then yes, consistency will benefit you; but if you just can’t manage to make your morning plan--or any plan--stick, this does not make you deficient. It makes you the owner of a more complicated, but not unsolvable, jigsaw puzzle.


Virginia Santy