Early AM swim practices, while nearly universally loathed, are also a proving ground that separates the elite from the rest. Here are 6 reasons to learn to love early AM practices.  Current   Photo via  Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed  YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by  clicking here.

Yes, that sounds like complete rubbish. Who could possibly like getting up at 4:45am and heading to the pool? Especially on those cold, frosty winter mornings? But there are some hidden benefits to reluctantly brushing aside the sheets and making the commute down to the pool.

After all, the early morning wake-up call is a proving ground in a lot of ways. It’s a moment where you can choose to turn the other cheek and pretend you never heard the alarm go off, or you can squash the short-term pleasure of a couple hours of extra sleep for long term success and satisfaction.

Here are six benefits of not uppercutting the snooze button early in the morning:

1. Teaches discipline.

Discipline and self-control gets a bit of a bad rep in today’s world where we are expected to have a shortcut or a supplement for everything. Heeding the alarm in the morning is an opportunity to prove to yourself that your word is worth something. That if you promise yourself you are going to do it, it may as well already be done. It would be an understatement to say this is a valuable life skill

While self-discipline may seem like it’s just for those who are uptight and miserable,  researchhas shown that not only are those that exert self-control happier in the long run, they are also happier in the moment. So go forth and be disciplined and a little more satisfied as a result.

2. Encourages better planning and time management.

Planning out the day before, instead of simply being in a reactionary state from the time you wake up, has a couple benefits. With packed bags and prepared meals the primary and obvious benefit is an extra few minutes of sleep the following morning. We all know the things we would do for just a few more minutes of that warm bed. Additionally, I always found that being prepared allowed me a certain peace of mind that helped me fall asleep a little easier at night.

3. It teaches us that to succeed we need to do what others aren’t willing to do.

The path to success isn’t littered with only the things you want to do. It’s things just like this that separates those that excel at meet time with the rest.

It is no accident or secret that when comparing AM and PM workouts that morning practices have the poorest attendance. Swimming as an age grouper the attendance sheets were consistently docked with numerous red X’s for each of the early morning workouts. It was a rare moment of triumph for our coaches when absolutely everyone in the group showed up to an AM workout.

For myself, I loved being there knowing others were skipping out. I had no doubt that cross-town and cross-country competitors were doing the exact same thing in their own home pools, and often times that is just the mental edge you need when it comes time to stepping up on the blocks.

4. Serves as a litmus test for how committed we are to our swimming.

Missing morning practice is often emblematic of a swimmer’s attitude towards their swimming. The occasional miss is understandable, but a committed athlete is unwilling to allow valuable training opportunities go to waste. Nearly without exception the results of this commitment is reflected in competition.

As a bonus, because early morning sessions tend to attract the committed types, I found the work being done is frequently at a higher level than PM practices when everyone is present.

5. Once up, you’re less likely to skip out on the workout.

Once past the whole getting up part of the equation, you’ll find that you are more consistent with your AM workouts. Things rarely pop out of nowhere at 6am to derail you from your workout. PM workouts bring with them another set of conflicting issues. A long workday, a sudden influx of homework assignments, or the fatigue from the day can often railroad your nightly practice.

6. There is something about being up before everyone else.

Once out of those sheets, making the half-awake commute to the pool, and slipping into a soggy and cold bathing suit (should have hung the suit up the night before!), you toe up to the edge of the pool, and look down the still lane.

Outside the world is dark and still asleep, the pool deck quiet save for the teammates putting up the backstroke flags. The water flat, placid and calm. After submitting to the cold water, taking those first few strokes, the familiarity of your stroke quickly rushing back to you, you can smile to yourself knowing that you’re not only doing more than the next athlete, but that you are back home.


YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more. Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt.

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