How To Start Running In The Morning

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Cross Training For Runners
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Written by :

David Dack

Wondering how to make the transition from cozy bed snuggler to energized morning runner?

I’ve got your back! In this guide, we’ll unwrap all the secrets to making that AM run not just a one-time thing, but a delightful ritual.

By the end of this, you won’t just have a strategy to embrace those early jogs, but you’ll also have a blueprint to master your day and cement lasting, healthy habits.

So, are you ready to swap those pajamas for jogging attire and watch the world wake up as you run?

Let’s hit the ground running!

The Benefits of Morning Runs

Is running in the morning a good idea? Let me make a case for it.

Mental clarity. Running in the morning can help clear your mind and set a positive tone for the day. The combination of exercise-induced endorphins and the quiet of the early morning can serve as a form of meditation, helping you to think more clearly and approach challenges with a calmer mindset.

  • Improved mood. Physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and mood elevators. Starting your day with this boost can lead to a more positive and happier mood throughout the day.
  • Avoid the heat. If you live in a region with hot mid-day temperatures, morning runs can be cooler and more comfortable, reducing the risks associated with heat exhaustion or dehydration.
  • Safer environment. In the early morning, there’s often less activity around, which might make it safer for running, especially if you’re avoiding busy streets, intersections, or potentially unsafe areas.
  • Natural circadian rhythm alignment. Our bodies have natural rhythms, and getting sunlight early in the morning can help reset our internal clocks, which can be beneficial for overall health and well-being.
  • Boosted metabolism. Kickstarting your day with a morning run can raise your metabolism early, ensuring you burn calories more efficiently throughout the day. This is especially beneficial if weight management is one of your goals.
  • Builds a success mindset. By starting your day with an accomplishment like a morning run, you’re mentally setting yourself up for success. This sense of achievement can motivate you to tackle other tasks with more vigor and determination.
  • Encourages consistency. By establishing a morning routine, you’re less likely to skip your runs due to unforeseen events or commitments that might pop up later in the day.
  • Better air quality. Depending on where you live, the air quality is often better in the early morning before the hustle and bustle of daily life starts. This can be particularly beneficial for those living in urban areas with higher pollution levels.
  • Improved Brain Function. Research reported that exercise could boost mental acuity for up to 10 hours or longer post-workout.  So when you’re sweating it out first thing in the morning, you’re allocating all of that extra energy in the right place.

The Downsides of Morning Runs

While running in the morning has a lot to offer, it’s also important to recognize that isn’t a perfect fit for everyone.

Let’s take a moment to explore some potential challenges and drawbacks associated with early morning running:

  • Difficulty in Waking Up: For some individuals, getting out of bed early can be a significant challenge. If you’re not naturally inclined to be a morning person, forcing yourself into a morning running routine may lead to sleep deprivation or feelings of fatigue throughout the day.
  • Weather Conditions: Depending on your location and the time of year, early mornings can bring extreme weather conditions, such as cold temperatures, rain, or darkness. These factors can make it less appealing and, in some cases, unsafe to go for a run.
  • Work and Family Commitments: If you have a busy work schedule or family obligations, finding the time for a morning run can be challenging. Juggling early morning workouts with other responsibilities may require careful planning and time management.
  • Specific Health Conditions: If you have certain health conditions, such as heart problems or joint issues, may need to be cautious about engaging in intense physical activity, especially in the morning. Consulting with a healthcare professional before starting a morning running routine is advisable.
  • Sleep Quality: While morning runs can improve overall sleep quality, it’s possible that the transition to this routine may temporarily disrupt your sleep patterns. Adjusting to a new wake-up time can take time, affecting your sleep duration and quality.

How to Become A Morning Runner

Are you sold on the benefits of becoming a morning runner?

If so, then let’s dive into some of the guidelines  that will help you build a morning running habit with ease

Get a Good Night of Sleep

The best way to NOT become a morning runner is to skip on sleep.

That’s why it’s vital for your running and overall health (sanity included) to get enough sleep.

As a rule, shoot for at least 8 hours of interrupted sleep during the nighttime. Of course, there is no magic number that works universally for everyone, but 7 to 8 hours is the standard guideline.

To improve sleep quality, do the following:

  • Limit screen time before bed. The blue light emitted by phones, tablets, computers, and televisions can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Aim to shut off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Create a sleep-friendly environment. Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, a white noise machine, or a fan to create an environment conducive to sleep.
  • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and can improve the quality of your sleep over time.
  • Limit naps. If you nap during the day, keep it short. Long or irregular napping can negatively impact your nighttime sleep.
  • Manage stress. Prioritize stress-reducing techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and physical activity. Stress and anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. While alcohol might make you feel drowsy, it can disrupt the sleep cycle and lead to fragmented sleep.
  • Watch fluid intake. Drinking too many liquids in the evening can lead to frequent bathroom trips throughout the night. While staying hydrated is essential, try to reduce your intake as bedtime approaches.
  • Get comfortable. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows. Consider the age of your mattress – most have a lifespan of about 8-10 years.
  • Limit heavy discussions or work. Avoid having intense or stressful discussions right before bedtime, and try not to bring work into the bedroom.
  • Stay active. Regular physical activity can help regulate your sleep patterns. However, try not to engage in intense workouts too close to bedtime, as it might energize you and make it harder to fall asleep.

Dim the Lights before Going to Bed

If you like to surf social media or binge-watch before bed, I’ve got some bad news.

Recent research revealed that staring at bright screens within a couple of hours before bed can interfere with circadian rhythms. These consist of our innate biological clock that regulates the body’s daily rhythms.

This has to do with melatonin levels, and this is, by far, one of the biggest challenges facing our generation today.

Melatonin is a vital natural hormone made by the pineal gland that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles. Any disturbance in the release of the hormone causes trouble.

Here’s what to do.

Using apps that filter blue light or shift your device’s colors to a warmer spectrum can be a game-changer. Apps like f.lux for your computer or Night Shift mode for iOS devices adjust the screen’s color temperature in accordance with the time of day, reducing the blue light exposure in the evenings.

Other strategies to dim the lights and prepare for sleep include:

  • Soft Lighting: Opt for warm, soft light bulbs in your bedroom and living area. These can reduce blue light exposure in the evenings.
  • Candlelight: Consider spending the last hour or so of your evening by candlelight. Not only is it a source of soft lighting, but it can also be calming and set a serene environment conducive to relaxation.
  • Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses: These glasses have special coatings that limit the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes. They can be especially beneficial if you use electronic devices in the evening.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Taking a few minutes to practice deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep.
  • Limit Overhead Lights: Use lamps or floor lights in the evening instead of bright overhead lights.
  • Opt for Physical Books: If you’re a reader, choose physical books or e-readers that don’t emit blue light over tablets or smartphones.
  • Be Mindful of Bathroom Lighting: If you need to get up during the night, try to keep the lighting as dim as possible. Consider using a small nightlight instead of turning on bright lights.
  • Set Boundaries: Designate specific times in the evening as “no-screen” times. This can help you develop a consistent routine and reduce your exposure to blue light before bedtime.

I usually prefer listening to audiobooks, lectures or reading a book (preferably fiction). I’m halfway through Stormlight Archives Book 4 (indeed, a long read). This is also when sleeping apps come in handy.

Get Your Gear Ready

Alright, fellow morning warriors! We all know that the struggle is REAL when the alarm goes off before the sun’s up.

Who wants to play hide-and-seek with their running shorts in the dark? Not me! So here’s a game plan to make sure your mornings are smooth and snooze-proof:

  • Set The Stage: Lay out all your gear the night before. And I mean everything – your workout clothes, shoes, water bottle, and even that pump-up playlist that gets your feet moving.
  • Fuel Up: Think of a light, energizing pre-run snack. Got it? Great. Now, make sure it’s ready to grab and go. (Pssst… bananas and almond butter? A dynamic duo!)
  • Map It Out: Plan your route in advance. And if you’re feeling a little exploratory, sites like WalkJogRun or MapMyRun are the way to go. They can help you discover popular and safe routes for your morning escapades. Remember, while spontaneity is fun, safety comes first!
  • Sleep in your running clothes: Yup, you heard right. Just make sure they’re clean. And please, leave the shoes off the bed. It sounds wacky, but trust me, it’s a game-changer.

Wake Your A$$ Up

Getting your body out of bed is another important piece of the puzzle. Just because you slept for 7-8 hours doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll be on your feet once the alarm goes off.

But no worries, I got some tricks up our sleeve to get you on your feet.

  • Ditch the Snooze Temptation: Move that alarm away from arm’s reach! By the time you clumsily scramble across the room, you’ll be awake enough to remember why you set it in the first place. Fun fact: studies suggest that just the act of physically getting out of bed boosts your wakefulness. So, take a little stretch and own the day!
  • Double Whammy Alarm Action: Set not one, but two alarms. The first one’s your gentle nudge and the second? Think of it as your “GET UP NOW!” jingle. Pro tip: Go for the most jarring, toe-curling, obnoxious ringtone. “But why?” you ask? Science says a sudden adrenaline rush can actually wake you up faster. Worth a shot, right?
  • Let There Be Light: Natural light cues our body to wake up, making us feel alert and refreshed. No sunshine yet? No problem! Wake-up lightboxes are your new BFF. They mimic a natural sunrise, gradually filling your room with light. And if that fails, just flip on all the room lights. It’s like a mini sun right inside your room.

Drink Your Water

You’re dehydrated first thing in the morning, so drink some water

How much water to drink depends on how far/hard you’re planning to run. As a rule, drink plenty as soon as you wake up and during your morning ritual. Shoot for at least six ounces of water before heading out the door.

For longer runs—more than an hour—bring a water bottle with you, plan a route along convenience stores and water fountains, or simply stash a bottle of water at a strategic location beforehand. Pure water is better than infused water.

Additional resource – Night running tips

To Eat Or Not To Eat

If you’re anything like me, the thought of food before a morning jog can be a little… iffy. I’m all in for the whole keto and intermittent fasting life. But here’s the thing: everyone’s engine runs a bit differently. So if you wake up with your stomach singing “Feed me, Seymour!”, you might want to listen.

Here’s a friendly heads-up: running on an empty tank might not be everyone’s jam. Some folks might find themselves hitting a wall or feeling lightheaded. And nobody got time for that.

So, if your gut is saying, “Gimme some grub,” consider these light and energizing options before lacing up:

  • Banana: Nature’s energy bar. Potassium-packed and ready to fuel.
  • Whole-grain cereal: A fiber-rich kickstart to keep you feeling full and fueled.
  • Whole wheat toast: Slap on some natural peanut butter or avocado for an extra boost.
  • Dried fruits: They’re like candy but better for you.
  • Yogurt: Probiotics? Check. Protein? Check. Deliciousness? Double-check.
  • Energy bar: Opt for one that’s low in sugar but high in energy.
  • Granola bar: Same rule as above. Avoid the super sugary ones!
  • Hard-boiled egg: Eggs-tra energy? Yes, please!

Here’s the full guide to runners diet.

Be Gradual

You ever tried to rearrange your entire room in a day and ended up with a bigger mess than you started? That’s what happens when you go for that 0 to 100 transformation overnight. In the end, you might just find yourself snuggled up with your old habits, reminiscing about that one time you tried to change.

Instead of diving headfirst into the deep end, start by dipping your toes. If you’re a night owl who chirps till 1 a.m., nudge bedtime back by just 15 minutes. It’s like adjusting to a new time zone minus the jet lag! And each week, roll back the clock a tad more until you hit that sweet spot.

Thinking of lacing up for a dawn run? Hold on, champ! Before you sprint, you gotta walk. Begin by simply waking up a smidge earlier. Relish the quiet. Maybe do some stretches or a light workout. The idea? Ease into the AM exercise groove.

Additional resource – How to run With a Partner

How Long Should a Morning Run Be?

Your morning run’s length should mirror you: your goals, fitness level, and how much time you can reasonably spare.

So, let’s break it down:

New to the Running Game? If you’re just getting those legs moving, a 20-30 minute jaunt is a fantastic starting point. It’s enough to get the heart pumping but not so much that you’re gasping for breath or risking injury.

Marathoner in Training? If you’re prepping for a long race or just love the endurance aspect of running, your mornings might be filled with longer runs, ranging from one to two hours.

Short on Time? Go Intense!

If the morning hustle is real and you’re pressed for time, consider adding a dash of intensity to your run. Enter: Interval workouts. Here’s why they’re awesome:

  • Efficiency: With interval training, you can achieve significant results in a shorter time frame, often in just 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Challenge Accepted: Intervals push you to step outside that comfy running pace, making your workout more dynamic and challenging.
  • Calorie Burn Boost: Those short, intense bursts can ramp up calorie burn, even after the workout is done.

How To become a morning runner – The Conclusion

There you have it!

If you’re looking to build the morning running habit, then today’s article should put you on the right path. The key is to be patient and add the load gradually; the rest is just details.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep training strong.

David D.

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