The AM Weekday Warrior
I love hiking, mountaineering, climbing, mountain biking, and generally being outside. Naturally, I’ve tried to shape my life to maximize the amount of time I have to spend doing the things I’m passionate about. However, since I’ve still got a 9-5 (and then some) job, sometimes you have to get creative. For me, that often means doing crazy stuff in the mornings, before most people even start work.
People often wonder if I “have a real job” or how I spend “so much time” adventuring. The truth is, it took some adjustments. Going from college to the typical 9–5 and then trying to fit in weekday adventures took a while to get right. Much of that came in the form of training myself to get up earlier and function on less sleep. But at the end of the day, most of it came down to deciding how important it was for me to be doing these things, and changing my lifestyle to support that. And a good alarm clock.
Here are a couple tips to maximize your AM adventures.
I mean, really early. There’s no great way around this. You want to do a 10-mile hike before work? It’s doable, you just need to start at 4 am. For me, it’s worth it. Now, you may not need to get up THAT early, but it’s the best way to give yourself more time in the day.
Your morning adventures don’t need to start at home. Save time by planning ahead and sleeping at the trailhead. If I don’t have to drive anywhere when I wake up, that’s either extra time for sleep or for the hike. Have your stuff ready to go the night before, your backpack packed, water filled, etc. Those little things add up in the morning and can de-motivate you to get moving.
My “morning excursions” when I lived in San Francisco were limited to quick runs around Sutro Forest and the occasional trip out to Marin to get some mountain biking in. Moving to Boulder means that all manner of activities are exponentially closer. A trail run in Chautauqua Park, a quick solo of the Second Flatiron or a hike up any of the five peaks in my backyard can easily be completed before breakfast. And even more trailheads are within an hour's drive.
This isn’t an option for everyone, but it does help. I work a pretty typical 9–5, but being remote does give me a little bit of flexibility if I’m running late in the morning. Other ways to get around this: finding an employer that shares your passions, and living closer to the kinds of adventures you're looking for (see above).
That is, know your speed and ability level. I move pretty quickly, so I can cover more ground than most people in the morning. That said, I’m always cognizant of giving myself a buffer to be back in time for work. Pick morning adventures that fit your style but don’t compromise your work life.
At the end of the day, there’s no easy way to get up at 3 or 4 am to go hike in the dark. It comes down to you and your personal commitment to getting outside and doing the things you love. But if someone does come up with a magical panacea that makes it easy, let me know. I’ll be first in line. [H]