I’ve always wanted to become a morning runner, but as far as I remember, I’ve never been a “morning person.” In fact, throughout my whole adult life, I’d always struggled to go to bed before midnight.
I would tell myself that I’ll wake up with enough time to go for a run then enjoy a healthy breakfast. But that didn’t happen for a very long time.
Here’s the truth. If you’re not a morning person, waking up for any reason—let alone running—before 8 a.m. can feel like a dreadful agony. Nonetheless, as my experience has taught me, mornings are the best time to fit in a run.
What happened is, a few years ago, I reached a critical moment in my life and decided to start running in the morning. Back then I knew that if I didn’t run in the morning, I wouldn’t run at all.
It was virtually impossible to run after work because I’m either tired or usually have other responsibilities. If you’re living in the real world, then you know that there are many other distractions that can stand in the way of your workout program.
But it wasn’t a smooth ride by any means. When I decided to do whatever it takes to make morning workouts a real thing, my first thoughts were “boy this is going to be hard.”
Nonetheless, I didn’t give up. I kept re-adjusting my schedule and changing up my lifestyle in order to build the morning workout habit. In the span of a few months, I’d it figured out. That’s where today’s article comes in handy.
But first things first, let’s take a look at why you should love running in the morning.
The Benefits Of Morning Workouts
First of all, mornings are the ideal time to run—it’s when you have the most energy are primed to build new habits. It’s also that part of the day when your willpower reserves are at their fullest and before distractions start hitting you from every corner.
Plenty of research revealed that those who exercise first thing in the morning are fitter, happier, more productive, and emotionally stable than those who don’t.
I could go on and on about the benefits that morning workouts have to offer, but I guess you get the picture. These are only a few of the reasons I strongly urge you to start running—and exercising—in the morning.
7 Ways to Help you Become A Morning Runner
Today you’re in luck as I’m going to teach you how to become a morning person yourself. Once I started implementing some of the strategies shared within this post, I was able, within a few months, to make morning workouts a reality
1. Fuel Right
If you want to make morning runs a lot easier, eat something before your workout. This is especially the case if you’re not used to exercising on an empty stomach
Don’t get me wrong. I got nothing against fasted state exercise. Just so you know I’m a big advocate of intermittent fasting and have been doing it quite regularly in the past few months (for more check my post here).
But if you’re trying something new (running in the morning for instance), skimping on fuel might not be advisable.
Here’s what you need to do. Opt for something easily digestible and light. Think banana, pita, etc. If eating in the morning is out of the question, then make sure, at the very least, to have a nutritious evening meal the night before.
The dinner you eat before an a.m. run will significantly impact how you feel and perform during the session itself. If you eat nothing but junk food the night before your workout (or any other day for that matter), chances are you’re going to roll out of bed feeling exactly like that—crappy.
Eat plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein, so you can wake up feeling energized and replenished, not sluggish and gross.
One more thing. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and what may work the best for one runner may not the best thing for you. That’s why you need to experiment and try out different things so you can uncover.
2. Warm up Right
Early in the morning—especially during the cold season—your muscles are likely to be cold and stiff because you haven’t been moving around. The bad news is, heading out the door with cold muscles isn’t going to help you maximize your running potential. Au contraire, that might be the recipe for discomfort, premature fatigue, even injury.
That’s why you need to start with a dynamic warm-up to get your body ready for the task ahead.
Dynamic warm-ups increase blood flow to working muscles and raise body temperature. This, in turn, helps maximize performance.
What’s more? Warming up right can also help you mentally ease into the workout.
Here’s the exact breakdown:
- Start by jogging in place or doing jumping jacks to raise your body temperature.
- Once you feel warm, perform this dynamic warm-up routine.
3. Go to Bed Early
If you go to bed at 1 a.m. not only will it be virtually impossible to wake up at 5 a.m. it will be even harder to muster up the energy and willpower for a quality run.
Usually, my goal bedtime is 11.00 p.m. That way I make sure I have at least hours of quality uninterrupted sleep once my alarm clock goes off at around 6.30 a.m.
The first step is going to bed as early as possible. You should hit the sack seven to eight hours before your wake-up time. Do this even if it means going to bed two to three hours earlier than your usual.
We require at least seven to eight hours of sleep to function at our best. Otherwise, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot—and that’s just bad. If you only sleep for less than six hours, you won’t have enough energy to run—nor do anything else in your life.
Sure, some people believe that they can survive on much less, but I doubt it. The science on this is quite clear.
Next, once you open your eyes, allow for a few minutes for the world to settle in as you’ll almost definitely feel groggy.
Just don’t feel like you have to do this next Sunday. The keyword is gradual. For instance, if you’ve have been a late-night owl all your life, trying to become a morning person overnight is futile.
Don’t rush it. Give it time, and you’ll make it down the road, eventually.
Going early to bed is, just like anything else you do, a habit. Once you get yourself into it, you’ll start to build this habit and make it stronger as time passes.
4. Plan Your Gear in Advance
Success favors the prepared mind. This is especially the case when trying to become a morning person. The better you prepare in advance, the easier you make it on yourself, and the more likely you’re to do it.
Your mornings should be smooth, requiring no decisions whatsoever. If you, for example, roll out of bed with your running gear already ready to go, you avoid the whole decision-making dance around putting it on.
Trust me this is huge! The last thing you want to do after waking up is searching half-asleep for all your running items.
I hate to admit it but the number of times I skipped a run because I couldn’t find my favorite running shirt is quite embarrassing.
Here’s what you need to do. Lay out everything you need for your run—clothes, trainers, water bottle, headphones, armband, general positivity—then place them on the kitchen counter or near your bed, so you have them staring in the face when the alarm goes off.
When these decisions are already made, then you have less to think about when the alarm goes off.
Also, remember to check the weather, then plan your run and gear accordingly.
5. Sleep In your Running Clothing
If you want to get a jump start for your morning run, sleep in your workout clothes. This may sound silly, but according to my own experience, it works like a charm.
By sleeping in your running clothes, you won’t have to go through the arduous task of “putting on” your running clothes in the morning. That’s usually a lot harder when you’re half asleep—especially if you have to fumble around in the dark looking for your running shorts.
Just as a rule, make sure your workout clothes are fresh. Do not sleep in your yesterdays’ dirty and sweat-stained, but a clean set should do the trick.
6. Put the Alarm Out of Reach
When you’re trying to become a morning person, the snooze button is the big villain. It’s, in fact, the reason most people fail in the first place.
The snooze button deludes you into believing that you can sleep for just five more minutes, then five more. Before you realize it, you have already slept in.
To make sure you don’t hit the snooze button, set an alarm that’s super loud and put it somewhere across the room where you must physically force yourself to get up and move. You might also put it in the next room or the kitchen and turn up the volume.
When the alarm clock isn’t within your arms reach, chances you’re going to be already out of bed and lot less likely to sleepily snooze button your way through your morning sweat session.
And once you’re already out of bed…might as well run, right?
7. Have a Training Plan
We’re all a little unsettled first thing in the morning, and the last thing we want is to think about what kind of running we’ll be doing later on. That’s only a distraction and makes it harder to keep training regularly—and you don’t want that.
That’s why I strongly urge you to follow a well-structured running plan. You should know, in advance, how fast and how far you’ll go, as well as how long it should take.
It’s much harder to blow off a morning run when you’re following specific training—especially when training for a particular race.
Planning your runs helps prevent and put an end to the barrage of excuses that will pop into your mind and try to interfere with your success.
What I’d recommend you do is to come up with a plan for the entire week or even a monthly plan if you’re that ambitious. The clearer you’re running plan, the better, both for the short and long term.
For more on how to design your running program, check my post here.
There you have it. The above steps are you need to make the switch to morning runs with ease. Now the rest is up to you.
Just keep in mind that it takes time to build any habit—let along the morning running habit. It took me roughly a month to develop this habit—may be a lot longer.
Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Talk to you soon.