I love training before sunrise. I could never really put my finger on why – aside from the obvious visual pleasure of seeing a brilliant orange sunrise – but why exactly is that so satisfying?
Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman tells us that looking at a horizon, specifically with the sun setting or rising does a few great things for us.
First, it resets our melatonin and circadian rhythms. “The eyes are responsible for instructing the brain, and then the brain is responsible for instructing all of the cells of the rest of the body when to do their respective jobs,” Andrew explains.
It also resets our frame of ruminating or thinking. Instead of thinking about your immediate surroundings, (at your desk, for example), looking out into an expanse of sun and across the horizon, you start thinking in terms of a day or several days at a time.
No wonder it’s this time of day I come up with my best ideas, feel more creative, and tend to have more expansive thoughts.
Supposedly, this goes back to our more primal hunter-gatherer wiring, and that is profoundly soothing to us.
And Tibetan monks believe sunrise and sunset meditation is three times more effective than at any other time of day.
Further, we have dopamine receptors on our eyelids, so that first burst of natural light jumpstarts our day and just makes us feel great.
Finally, as we move, run or ride, we experience a sensation called optic flow. “The movement of objects past us as we run quiets some of the circuits that are responsible for stress,” he tells us.
He explains that it’s basically the opposite of claustrophobia.
So now I think I know why my morning rides and runs as so fulfilling, and why I insist on them.
Now if you’ll, excuse me, I have to get to sleep early.
Related tip: #44: Go to sleep early the night before your race