For as long as I can remember I’ve been a morning person.  In high school it was 6AM basketball practices.  In college it was waking up at 5:30AM to open the campus weight room.  As a father and business owner I’ve learned that mornings are my best asset for maintaining fitness on the bike.

To me, mornings are magical.  The light is warmer, the air is fresher, and the entire day feels full of possibility.  If I can get out before the sun comes up even better.  Here are a few keys I’ve learned to riding well in the morning.

Plan Ahead

I can’t waste time trying to find my socks at 5:30AM.  All of those details need to be taken care of the night before.  Bike is dialed, tires pumped, lights charged and mounted, kit/food/shoes all laid out.  I’m trying to create an environment with zero barriers and minimal decision making.  Wake up: ride.

Nothing but moonlight looking over the American River

Crush Carbs

I’ve found I get much higher quality rides if I eat as many carbs as I can stomach before heading out.  You can make a case for a different approach (fasted training) on early morning rides but crushing carbs is what works best for me.

Bowl of corn flakes, oatmeal, orange juice, toast, whatever I can put down before heading out the door will spell a higher quality ride in the hours ahead.

The sun starts to come up on Malcom Dixon

Minimize decision fatigue

Before my rides I try to plan out new podcasts or music playlists.  Learning and listening to music is something I always look forward to in the morning hours.

An unforgettable early morning ride in Maui

Stay Organized

The problem with getting up early is the anticipation of needing to get up early, which often makes me wake up even earlier than planned.  It’s a stupid cycle that many of us type A cyclists can relate to.

I have a bit of an elaborate system to try and ensure I don’t wake up too early, but in short, the more “life details” I can clear out of my head before going to bed, the better chance I’ll have of sleeping well.  Being well organized is crucial for me to minimize stress and sleep better.

Rainbow Bridge at dawn

Making a training plan is easy, remaining consistent throughout a season is hard.  The best way I’ve found to ride consistently is to match the majority of my ride time to the time of day with the least potential for distractions, family commitments, and waning motivation.  I’ve learned that mornings are where it’s at.

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Nate Dunn
Founder/Head Coach
Data Driven Athlete

Written by Nate Dunn, M.S.

Nate’s entire career has been spent in education and coaching. As a former teacher and now Founder/Head Coach at Data Driven Athlete, he is most excited about helping clients discover more about themselves as they achieve their goals on the bike.