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Build Up Your Running Program with the Sun

Build Up Your Running Program with the Sun

Stew Smith, CSCS

For the past few 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 as we are about 65% more likely to accomplish a workout if done at any other time than immediately after work. As you know, life gets in the way in the early evenings if you have one. It 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. It is the time in the day and night when the sun is gone but there is still light for about 20-30 minutes. You have to set a stop time 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 between 2-3 miles done before it is time to swim. I have been running all 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. Since it is after the Vernal Equinox, each day gets longer in daylight by 1-2 minutes everyday until the longest day of the year 20-21 June. 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. From this point, we repeat in reverse order as now the days are getting shorter everyday until it is winter.

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 occur much earlier. 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.

Here is my workout chart you can use as a sample guide for the Solstice Running plan that my workout group started this week of 24 March 2008:.

Weeks 1-24 Start Time Stop Time
1 24 6:30am 6:45am
2 23 6:30am 6:45am
3 22 6:20am 6:45am
4 21 6:20am 6:45am
5 20 6:10am 6:45am
6 19 6:10am 6:45am
7 18 6:00am 6:45am
8 17 6:00am 6:45am
9 16 5:45am 6:45am
10 15 5:30am 6:45am
11 14 5:30am 6:45am
12 *13 5:15am 6:45am

• * Once you reach week 12, you repeat in reverse order until you end where you started off.

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 PoliceLink 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.

  • Img_0521_1__max50


    almost 6 years ago


    Thank you for the assistance.

  • 2007_summer_trip_186_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Looks like a good plan. I'll start in the morning and update you later, thanks.

  • Xd40_3in_blk_heinie_max50w_max50


    over 7 years ago


    thanks for the great article

  • Casey_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Good plan. I just have one problem which is I go to work at 1815

  • Telecommunicator_rusch_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Very do-able, thanks for sharing!! I'm on the night shift too and have yet to find a good time that works. Seeing suggestions of when I wake up makes sense! Thanks again... happy running!

  • 602390_395291373861198_407944800_a-1_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Nice plan...I run every eve, weather permitting.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago

    This sounds like a great workout plan! I'm going to give it a shot and let you know how it goes. I love walking this time of year. Everything blooming and so green it helps think of something else other than the clock!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago

    Since I work graveyard shift, I run as soon as I wake up in the afternoon. Then I workout. It is a great way to start your day.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 7 years ago


    For i year..I got up at early mourn..about 6am..and found walking everyday to invigorate the thinking, then from the first week, I started to walk with weightd in hand, about 4lbs..I continued to do this everyday for a month, then I noticed the strength in my upper arms, and I smoke so I even began to down that, and started drinking orange juice each mourn..I walked about an hour or two..not thinking of anything but the sites...I managed to keep my tempo a brisk walk....after one month I began to wear leg weights, and still carrying the 4lbs. in my hands..I managed to gain weight, for little food was on my plate..but I noticed the differance after a month, the invigoration to stand a punch..My tone and stamina to which I felt and could see the differance as most noticed and tone was such that brought back the look of a gymnist..I did this work out everyday...and I manged to eat, sleep with an awakening that showed me how just a little bit propelled me into walking the park from which I live..I could walk around the entire place which is about 5 miles from what I could estimate...I went from 90lbs. to 97lbs..and I am 51 now...but I stopped for work..and found myself strong to take on a job of working in the warehouse that really set me up..but as each day passed I began to loose the mas and the stamina that brought me up...I will begin again..but the brisk walk, was better than running I am 5ft and weighed 97lbs but looked like I was waying 105..this is ideal for me..for I build quickly... ...Apache

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