Every self-improvement guru I’ve ever listened to has (annoyingly) advised that you need to do your exercise before work, first thing in the morning.

It is so so so so so so so so so hard to not stay cuddled up in my warm comfy bed until 15-20 minutes before starting work at 8am. A few times last fall I went for a walk before work, and it was mandatory back when Hank was a wild puppy to at least go for a short walk.

For months I’ve been fantasizing about getting up and exercising before work, visualizing my great success! But it never happened.


I got up and went for a walk all 5 days this week before work.

And at times I hated it with a seething hatred that made me grumpy for hours.

And then this morning I didn’t want to stop walking!

The week started roughly. On Sunday night I watched some lady on YouTube who emphasized the importance of power walking and swinging your arms and listening to music. I downloaded her playlist and headed out on Monday morning. And ended up with a tweaked knee from the ridiculous pace I tried to set.

Then Tuesday and Wednesday were worse and I was in a horrible grumpy mood.

But by the end of the week, I was doing great!!

Tallying the numbers and sharing my notes:

TimeDistance (KM)Avg Heart RateAvg PaceFootwearListening toNotes
Monday0:47:294.0713511’39”AltramusicPower walked. Mood okay.
Tuesday0:59:114.6612312’42”AltrapodcastNormal walk speed, sore in achilles and knee from yesterday’s power walking.
Wednesday0:52:583.9512213’23”KeenpodcastReally grumpy. Right knee still tweaked.
Thursday0:57:514.8312911’58”AltramusicMuch less grumpy. Felt stronger. Took on 4 big hills.
Friday1:04:515.4312411’55”AltramusicLegs feel strong. Didn’t want to stop.
4:42:2022.94126.6 avg

Things I’ve learned


It was important to plan. I set out my clothes the night before, including my ear buds and cap.

By Friday morning, I set an alarm. I don’t like alarms. But a couple of mornings I found myself waking up a lot in the 4am and 5am hours checking to make sure I didn’t sleep in. Setting an alarm meant I could be guaranteed to start by 6:30 and then be sure to get back and shower and change before work (I was so sweaty!).

Get out

It seems key to get walking as soon as possible after waking up. You need to avoid any possible distractions because distractions come with excuses why not to go. This is why vowing to exercise during the day doesn’t always happen. So I set my alarm for 6:15am, leap out of bed immediately, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, get dressed, feed Sally because by now she’s loudly meowing for food, drink a glass of water so I don’t have to carry any with me, take Hank out to pee because he’s noticed I’m up and about, and then get going. I don’t look at my email or Facebook. I scroll nothing. No downtime. Get up and get out, as fast as possible.


Music seems to be key for a better mood and a faster pace. I switched from the YouTube lady’s horrible dance mix on Monday to an exercise playlist with rock hits from the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s (Spotify link to playlist). I think walks without earbuds in your ears are so important, but if I’m doing this for exercise, I need the music beat. I use Apple’s AirPods with the transparency mode on, so I can still hear everything and keep the music quiet. I can still hear the birds and traffic. I still feel mostly within my environment.


I love my Altra Olympus shoes. They are trail runners with zero drop (no lift in the heel like most shoes) and the most padding under the foot that I’ve ever experienced. They have a soft sole that doesn’t last that long, although this pair is a year old so maybe they aren’t that quick to wear out? (Oh yeah, I didn’t wear them for 6 months of the winter!) But when I tried to increase my pace, I found myself stubbing the ground or tripping on rocks sometimes (I walk on gravel most of the time) so I switched to my other hikers one day, the Keens. But they just don’t have anywhere near the padding. My feet really don’t like feeling all the rocks under them, so I switched back to Altras and their luxurious padding!

Learning how to walk

There is an art to proper movement and I’ve been working on improving mine for years. Learning how to walk sounds ridiculous, but it is so true! Every time I’ve fixed something over the years, I’ve ended up with another ailment to cure. From plantar fasciitis (cured) to tight calves (cured), I still fight with Achilles tendonitis. It is a million times worse when I wear boots or high-cut shoes and I’m wondering now if heel strikes are causing it because I’m sure I heel strike more when my ankles are tightened into a shoe. I’ve been learning more about how and when to push off on my back step, so I can land mid-way on my foot instead of my heel. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized how much walking strength comes entirely from the butt (glutes and hamstrings), and actually your abs! My movement was all out of whack after a couple big abdominal surgeries that prevented all the right muscles from firing at the right time because I hadn’t rehabbed my abdomen.

Where to walk

I’ve stayed in town. I thought about the 9th Ave trail or hiking up Mary McLeod or Crocus Bluff but then I’d be smart to carry bear spray and I haven’t been. All the huge rocks on the dyke are annoying. You have to watch the terrain constantly and I notice that looking out the top of my progressive lens to do so causes a bit of neck strain. I had a bit of trail walk at the north end of the dyke (through the morning cobwebs) and some boardwalks (our sidewalks are wooden). But really no pavement except when I cross Front street. If I walk the very outside edge of town, including the dyke along the river, it is only 4.83km so I need to get more creative to hit 5km and zig zag.


I know I should take Hank but it seems so important to me that this is *me* time. Otherwise, he’s distracting and slow, taking me off my pace to pee a million times. For now, I can’t take him with me. Maybe if I keep this up it’ll come.


I’ve been very tired, very sleepy, very hungry, and craving sugar. BUT I also exercised significantly more than I would have otherwise. I opted out of one of Hank’s walks with Jeff (on Monday) because I was so worn out, but on the other days I still did my regular routine, walking Hank with Jeff at night or going to the dog park. So over the 5 days, I did about 4.5 hours of exercise I wouldn’t have done otherwise, and walked almost 23 km (over 14 miles) that I wouldn’t have walked. In just 5 days!

I’m a bit sore and stiff, but I like that. While I enjoy walks and once in a while will go for a 5km walk, I certainly haven’t done it every day too often, nor at this pace.

I worry about the impact on my sleep. Sleep is incredibly important for health and healing and I love it. I’ve tried to compensate and go to bed earlier but I’m not sure I actually am.

I enjoy seeing the sights around town and people. While working from home, as I have for ten years now, it is pretty easy to have a day go by without seeing much of town, or many other people. I chose a slightly different route each morning, but most days I walked along the dyke for some of my walk so I could see the river and the tourists (many already in puffy jackets) and people heading out to work. I said “Good morning” to everyone I met and waved to everyone who drove by who was staring at me from their truck.

Did I lose any weight? No, I think I actually gained. This is a big shift to my day and is throwing off my routine. I have been fasting until noon most days for several months now, but that is increasingly difficult because I’m starving by noon now.

I can see the benefits of exercising first thing in the morning. It would be easy to make this as a habit because it can happen at the same time every day quite easily.

Will I continue?

I haven’t decided. Do I need to do an hour? Should I try 30 minutes? That seems too short? Should I bump my workday start back an hour so I don’t get up so early? I take an hour off for lunch. Maybe I shouldn’t? Or should I bump an hour of work to the evening? I try to force my working hours to match Jeff’s but I don’t need to.

And what about the season? We’re heading into fall now. It is light outside at 6:30am now but it was just 11-13°C each morning. How would this work in December? When it is dark and extremely cold? I can’t walk that fast in winter boots. Could I switch to weights and inside workouts? Or would that make it too easy to skip and sleep instead?

Will I do this on weekends? Heck no. I need to sleep in. And I think I’ll keep all my enjoyable, normal-paced walks, without earbuds, for the weekend days.

Here’s some photos from the week. Some mornings were foggy, some smokey, all cool, and only one day did I battle mosquitos.