Rise and Run: How to Become a Morning Runner

Whether it's the early sunrises, sweltering mid-day temperatures or just the strong desire to become a morning runner, summer seems to be the time of the year where many runners make goals of getting their run in before the busy day begins. However, making the transition to early morning running isn't always easy.

For most night owls the simple thought of becoming a morning runner sounds like a fantasy in a far away land. Waking up really early when the snooze button is close quickly becomes impossible for the runner more inclined to get some more sleep in and sneak their run in the afternoon. However, many runners are forced to run in the morning or they risk not running that day. Family, job, endless responsibilities and errands can be overwhelming and finding time for a run can seem almost impossible at times.

Sometimes waking up even just an hour earlier in the morning is the best way to ensure your run happens before you march to your daily schedule and errands. Sometimes, during the summer, you also avoid the extreme heat from mid day by becoming a morning runner.

Morning runner doing some speedwork.

Weigh The Pros and Cons

In case you're going back and forth about converting to early workouts, draft a simple checklist of pluses and minuses. On the plus side, write down every one of benefits of running first thing: incredible start to the morning, getting the workout out of the way, additional time during the day, etc. The minus side may as well include having to go to bed early, being uncertain about running in the dark. Hopefully you will see that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and that some of the disadvantages, such as going to bed early, may actually be extremely beneficial or at least good habits.

Get Your Family on Board

Family is one of the most important things when it comes to incorporating a new habit. Let your family know about your goals so your training becomes a project they can all get excited about. In the morning stay away from sleeping family members so you don’t have any early bird kiddos or grumpy spouses who will throw a wrench in your plans.

You need their help. 

Make your family understand your goals and try to get them excited. They should be there for you all the time to support you.

Buddy Up

You can initially rely on friends to help you adapt. Having people to meet during the first few weeks will really help and get you in the habit of getting up at 4-5-6am. Knowing that you can let others down in the morning will make you jump out of the bed.

Don't go for it alone: By planning to meet up with one of your running buddies or even a group, you'll be much less likely to bail.

Locate the Right Route

Getting up is not the greatest obstacle early morning runners face. Knowing that you don’t have a route prepared in advance can ruin your mood and make you push the snooze button. Sometimes paths that are idyllic at noon or 5pm are downright dangerous at dawn. Before attempting your first morning run, go out during the day for a second look and pay special attention to the road conditions, shoulder width, traffic patterns and especially lighting. Scout around for some new paths, make a list and give it to family members or a friend. Know that you might have to eliminate one or two of your routes when you will become a morning runner. There are parks that you love or roads with great scenery, but maybe there are not lights at night. For the sake of safety, find the right route(s).

Find a route that is not dangerous at dawn. During the day, before your first run, check the traffic patterns and lighting.

Wear the Right Gear

Leave dark-coloured clothing at home. What you wear is also a safety issue, so “dress like a Christmas tree”. No joke, wear reflective vests and accessories and clip-on lights that flash red – you want to be visible to car drivers. If you go out before down, wear a headlamp or carry a flashlight. Studies show flashing lights are more eye-catching than solid lights.

Stop Snoozing

Don’t let yourself hit the snooze button. NOT even once. I know... the extra 10 minutes seems SO appealing at 5:00am, but it won’t help at all. Hitting the snooze button means you are more likely to oversleep, leaving less time for your run. Or you may miss your run all together. Remember to set your alarm for the precise time you need to wake—not too early, not too late. When it goes off, just get up.

Tip: drink plenty of water before going to bed. You will have to get up to go to the bathroom.

Don't ever hit the snooze button. NOT even once.

Shift your Mindset

Morning runs—or any workouts for that matter—should not be a burden. So instead of lamenting about your pre-dawn date with the pavement, meet it with a positive perspective.

Don't think about how you have to go for a run first thing in the morning. You are healthy and you are able to run. Get rid of the negative thoughts. As silly as it seems, just tell yourself, “Wow, this is going to be incredibly great. I love getting up while most people are sleeping!' Your mind will actually believe it."

Embrace the Morning

There's something magical about the quiet and stillness that an early-morning run offers. So once you are out there, soak it up.

Seeing the stars and listening to the sounds of the birds chirping is incredible. There is a tremendous sense of fulfillment when you return home and have run more miles than average people run before most of the rest of the world is even up.

Force yourself to get up early a couple of times and then you will quickly understand the benefits a morning run offers.

THE NIGHT BEFORE

Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. If you schedule a run at 5:20am, you’ll need to go to sleep by at least 10pm. Let’s see some tips that will make the transition easier.

  • Lay it Out

Before you go to sleep, prepare every detail of your morning run: from your shoes to your watch to your clothes, lay it out on the couch so everything’s prepared as soon as you step out of bed.

It's hard enough being an early bird. Fumbling around in the morning trying to find what you need wastes a lot of time and ruins your chances of getting out for the run.

Being ready beforehand means you have no excuses not to go out.

  • Have a Hearty Dinner - Early

Nutrition is directly connected to running performance. The meal should consist of easily digestible foods (containing protein and carbs), such as stir-fried rice with tofu and vegetables.

  • Dim the Lights

Darkenss stimulates the release of melatonin, which is the hormone that tells your brain it’s night time and makes you sleepy. Dim room lights and avoid electronics thirty minutes before going to bed. The screen glare is one of the biggest problems of the 21st century. The modern human doesn’t realize that electronics trick the brain into thinking it should still be alert.

 

READY, SET, RUN

Prepare your shoes, watch and clothing the night before. If you want to become a morning runner, you will need to prepare in advance.
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