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Transitioning to Morning Ice: Tips for Waking Up Early

Transitioning to early morning freestyle sessions is an eventuality for many skaters as they rise through the USFSA levels of the standard or no-test track. Morning ice (usually between 5.00am and 9.00am) is often the best ice and prime time for coaches. If, like me, you’re not an early riser AT ALL this is often an issue. Because it’s not just about waking up when the alarm clock sounds, it’s about getting yourself to the rink on time and getting used to training your body at a different time than it’s used to. We’ve compiled a list to help you get out of bed and get going for all the let-me-hit-snooze-one-more-time skaters out there.

  1. Set yourself a consistent bedtime: Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t necessarily mean go to bed at the EXACT same time, every night. Your best bet is to head to bed within an hour and a half window that will allow you between seven and eight and a half hours of sleep. So if you need to wake up at 6.00am, you should be hitting the hay somewhere between 9.30pm -11.00pm. This allows you some wiggle room to do what you need to do during the evening while allowing yourself the amount of sleep that you need.
  2. Know WHY you’re waking up early: If you are not a morning person by any conventional standard and you’re trying to will yourself out of bed earlier than normal, this is not going to be a habit that sticks (or even starts). Ask yourself WHY you are making a commitment to changing your schedule around. The answer, “because I should” is not an answer that inspires. What really merits this shift? Do you absolutely love skating and you have more time with your coach in the morning? That kind of reasoning is positive, the first is not positive enough. See the difference? Find out what reason works for you and remember it.
  3. Give yourself some transition time: Look, I think the person who invented the snooze button deserves a monument built in their honor on the Washington Mall. The truth is, if you don’t naturally wake up early, the advice to jump out of bed immediately is unrealistic. Set two alarms. One that you can easily reach to turn off to wake you up and one that you have to get out of bed to turn off 10-15 minutes later. Why? Because it allows you time to wake up, leisurely get your bearings, cuddle with a pet or a loved one, and generally be a little calmer when you do get up as opposed to pretending there’s a stove fire when you hop out of bed for alarm #1.
  4. Get out of the house: Remove your bed from your sightline. Don’t just leave your bedroom, get out of the house. Nature has a weird way of waking you up that the comfy, cozy environs of your home do not. If this means taking the family dog out for a walk around the block, do that. If this means shoveling snow out of the driveway in the winter, do that. If this means drinking your morning coffee on your apartment balcony, do that. If it means, heading to the rink in the car with the windows down, then, hun, do that. Whatever it is – get thee out of the domicile!
  5. Be kind to yourself: Set realistic expectations. I have yet to hear of someone who is a natural night owl, transition to an early bird and have no side-effects except for the rainbows coming out of their eyes and a newfound talent for the Irish jig. If we’re being honest, you should know that the transition to waking up early is imperfect. You will be extra tired for a little bit. You will feel like a zombie for a hot minute. You will likely slip up and wake up later than you want a few times. That’s OK. Be patient. This is a fairly dramatic restructuring of your daily life – it will likely be a longer process. Make sure that you don’t beat yourself up for taking the time you need to be fully OK with this transition. Just know that you can, indeed, do this.

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