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Run with the Sun!!

stew smith

For the past several years, I have started an outdoor running program as the weather breaks from Winter to Spring. This running plan works as the sun rises in the morning prior to work or school. Did you know we are about 65% more likely to accomplish a workout if done in the morning hours before your day truly begins? As you know, life gets in the way in the early evenings and workouts can get replaced with extended meetings and precious family time. This plan is great for any level of fitness and the goal is to progress as the days get longer with your walking, running, biking, or other exercise plan. Here is how the Solstice Exercise Plan works:

Three-to-four days a week you wake up and start warming up and running about 20-30 minutes before the sun rises. Usually you have about 20-30 minutes of what in the Navy we called Nautical Twilight or Nautical Dawn. It is the time in the day and night when the sun has set (or not risen) but there is still light for about 20-30 minutes. The only thing you have to do is set a stop time to the workout that is suitable for your fitness level and keep that standard through the 24 week cycle in order to get to school, work or other commitments on time.

For instance, I like to swim at 6:45 am (when the pool opens) nearly on a daily basis during the week. So, I have been starting the run part of the workout about 20-30 minutes before sunrise time which in March is about 6:50am. This gives me a starting running plan run workout of 15-20 minutes where we usually get in at least 2 miles done before it is time to swim. I have been running most of the winter so I am not starting out running this week. If you are beginning a running plan, start out by walking for a few weeks and then start adding some running using the logical progression of the sun. Or check out the Beginning Running Plan and walk a little / run a little using driveways or telephone poles as intervals. If on a treadmill, just run for 30 seconds / walk 30 seconds until you build up to fully running for 15 minutes.

Since it is after the Winter Solstice (Dec 20), each day gets longer in daylight by 1-2 minutes everyday until the longest day of the year June 20-21 (Summer Solstice - our PEAK week). We build up each week until we peak during the Summer Solstice and have a big event like a triathlon, or half marathon, or something challenging. Usually our total workout (run, swim, weights or calisthenics lasts 2-3 hours). From this point, we repeat in reverse order as now the days are getting shorter everyday until it is winter Dec 20 again.

I am sure this workout will not apply to many as the time constraints of work or school or family will cause early morning workouts to be challenging. But you can always jump into the plan especially during the mid summer time when the daylight starts as early as 5:00am. The plan does require you to go to bed a bit earlier every other week if you want to be able to receive the recovery benefits of sleeping a full night’s sleep. See Sleep Article

Here is my workout chart you can use as a sample guide for the Solstice Running plan that my workout group start the week of March 20, 2009:. (Spring or Vernal Equinox)



* Once you reach week 12, you repeat in reverse order until you end where you started off.
* At 6:45 I continue exercise with additional PT and Swim workouts see ideas


Break up the workouts too as you have more time to play with. Once a week go for a longer distance run, but the other two – three running days add in some sprints, intervals, goal pace runs, and even some leg PT at regular time intervals to break up the monotony of just running long slow distance runs. See the running plans on the StewSmith Fitness Article archive for running workout ideas.

At week 24, you need to decide what exercise routine is next as the days are shorter. We usually start lifting weight more and swimming more as a way to break up the training plan and recover from all the miles of impact we placed on our bodies. See The Advanced Weights / PT Workout (Fall / Winter Weight Gain Cycle)

Please keep the emails coming and follow our group on Twitter if you are interested in forming your own group workouts.


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