My husband thinks I’m crazy. Well, this is nothing new and he thinks I’m crazy for a lot of reasons but loves me for it. Specifically this time he thinks I’m crazy because of what time my alarm is set for. See, I love running and working out in the morning. I get asked all the time how I do it and how to run in the morning for those that don’t like to get up early.
It isn’t easy that’s for sure. However, I love it. I love the feeling of being out there when no one else is and getting my run in. Plus, I hate running at the end of the day. Which I find to be very common with a lot of pre-dawn runners. As much as I love it though I do struggle and need extra pushes from time to time.
Why Run in the Morning?
Okay so we have determined that those of us that are up before the sun logging our miles are completely crazy. Honestly though, what runner isn’t crazy to non-runners? The real question is why? Why do we do it?
The benefits are both subtle and obvious at the same time:
- having a regular, uninterrupted block of time to complete your workout – Honestly, if I don’t do it now I won’t later, not with the husband and toddler both awake or after dinner when it is time to rush around for bed.
- brain power: research has shown that running (or exercising) can boost your brain acuity for up to 10 hours post-workout. Why waste that brainpower in the evening when we are sleeping? (1)
- improved sleep: Excise causes a spike in adrenalin and exercising at night can keep you up due to this. Getting it done in the morning lets your adrenalin levels come down throughout the day
- Improved Consistency: People that workout in the morning are typically more consistent with their programs, and consistency is KEY to good results! (2)
- time to think: or not think. This is a time of self-care. Time to be alone (or with friends) doing something you love and relaxing into it to just enjoy.
- Morning High: research has shown that a 6-mile run releases the same amount of endorphins as a dose of morphine. So, start the day off on a high note and release those endorphins for a happier day. (3)
How to Run in the Morning
There are tips within tips here. Like I said, learning how to run in the morning isn’t easy. It ESPECIALLY isn’t easy if you are a proclaimed “not a morning person”. That is your first step. Change that mindset right now. More on this soon.
Improve You Sleep Habits
Getting to bed at a decent time is the first place to start. Ideally you should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night. If you can’t do this and still get your morning workout in then I suggest you focus on your sleep first. A good workout will be completely derailed and ruined by poor sleep.
To work on getting to bed early start with 10 minute increments. Each week move your bedtime up by 10 minutes. These small changes are completely doable and you are slowly retraining your body to go to bed earlier.
Some other tips to sleep better and go to bed earlier are:
- don’t consume caffiene later in the day
- start a nightly routine to help you unwind (hot bath, meditation, mobility work)
- go to bed at the same time every night (with the exception of the 10 minute change each week)
- turn off the tv or your electronic device at least an hour before bed. Keep the blue and violet light away from you!! It has been shown over and over again to reduce sleep quality
Get your clothes ready
You can do this in 2 different ways. Some people find it helpful to sleep in their running clothes. I have my favorite jammies and prefer not to do this. OR you can lay out your clothes so that you can mindlessly jump into them as soon as you get up.
5 second rule
This is a newer tip for me. I recently read The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, a great read btw, and have been implementing her tips. Very simply put, when you wake up give yourself 5 seconds to get out of bed. This is the amount of time it takes before your brain will kill your motivation/goal. So, when your alarm goes off and you become somewhat aware enough count down from 5 (5-4-3-2-1) and then get out of bed.
I thought it was silly at first but doing this has definitely helped me out, especially on these cold mornings that I don’t want to get out of my warm bed. Try it out tomorrow, or even today on tasks that you need to do, you just might be surprised.
Getting hydrated is huge if you are trying to run in the morning, definitely if it is humid summer-time. Within an hour of going to bed I try to get in at least 16 oz of water and then I drink at least 8 oz (usually 16 oz with some Nuun) first thing when I get out of bed. It helps wake me up and gets my body hydrated to perform better.
Do some gentle warm-up mobility work to get the blood flowing and your body ready to run. Start with some arm circles followed by some hip CARs. Follow that up with a good dynamic warm-up.
When trying to develop a new habit like this being consistent is key. Set your alarm and get up at that time every single day, even on the weekends. Just like your bed time your wake up time needs to stay the same. Eventually you will get to a point where it becomes natural to sleep during these times and it will get easier. You will also be able to take a day off and not lose the habit. But until you get to that point you need to be consistent every single day. No exceptions really.
Be Patient with Learning How to Run in the Morning
Learning and developing a new habit takes time and commitment. You aren’t going to suddenly become a morning runner in a week’s time. It will take a lot longer than that and consistency is key as I said above. For those of you that do know how to run in the morning, what are your secrets? Anything I missed?
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Dr. Abby Siler, PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist with 10 years of experience in a variety of settings. She has spent the majority of her time treating athletes in orthopedic clinics and worker’s compensation cases. She is a runner herself for the past 15 years and a lifelong athlete. Dr. Abby loves to teach runners how to stay injury free and out of her clinic.