Running in the morning always makes me feel like I’m starting out my day on the right foot. I feel more energized, alert, productive, and in a good mood. It’s a relief to not have the pressure of squeezing in a run at the end of the day, and I feel like I’ve gained some extra time in the day.
Research has actually shown that runners who run in the morning are more consistent with their running than those who try to do it in the afternoon or evening. For most people, mornings are the most predictable and least demanding part of the day, so you’re more likely to stick to your plan. Evening exercise plans are often derailed by work or family obligations or just pure exhaustion at the end of the day. It’s much easier to blow off your run after you’ve worked all day and just want to collapse be a lazy lump on the couch.
Our willpower gets tested and sometimes used up throughout the day, so it can be tough to muster the self-discipline to run after a long day at work. If you plan to wake up a little bit earlier and run in the morning, your willpower tank is full. By getting your run done in the morning, you’ll avoid giving into laziness later in the day. An added bonus is that you’ll feel more energetic and be more productive during the day.
Morning runs are also good preparation and training for races, since most are run in the morning. If you typically run in the morning, your body will already be used to the routine on race day.
Running in the morning can also help with weight loss efforts. A morning run will jump-start your metabolism, so your body burns calories at a faster rate during the day. You’ll also feel tired at night and go to bed earlier, thereby reducing the number of hours when you’re tempted to snack late at night.
If you want to reap the benefits of morning runs and work some into your training, here are some tips to make it easier:
1. Plan the night before.
A successful morning run habit starts with good preparation the night before. Do everything you can the night before to plan for your morning. If you need to make lunches for yourself or your kids, do it the night before so you can free up time in the morning. Don’t give yourself an excuse, like a household morning task, to skip your run.
2. Hit the hay early.
If you have trouble getting up for morning runs, you’re probably going to bed too late. Try to plan it so you’ll get 7-8 hours of sleep.
3. Adjust your wake-up time.
Some runners can get up and go immediately, but others find that they need some time to eat a light snack and adjust to being awake first. If you’ve tried running in the morning and felt too sluggish, try increasing the amount of time between waking up and running. You may feel better if you’ve eaten something light first, gone to the bathroom, and gotten out of your sleepy state.
4. Lay out your clothes.
I do this trick all the time and it works for me. Lay out your running clothes the night before, as if you could just dive right into them when you wake up. Seeing those clothes right there is your cue that you need to get dressed and start running. Before you have time to reconsider going out for a run, you’ll already be dressed and it will be too late to change your mind. Some runners even sleep in their running clothes to make it even easier to get out the door.
5. Plan your run.
Think about your run the night before — how far, for how long, what course you’ll run. You’ll feel more motivated for your run and ensure that you’ll have enough time. Mark it down on your calendar or training schedule so you’re more committed to it. The more planning you do, the harder it is to blow off your run in the morning.
6. Drink some water.
You’ll probably be a bit dehydrated when you wake up, so make sure you drink six to eight ounces of water before you head out for your run. Drinking some cold water will also help wake you up a bit.
7. Get a morning running buddy.
If you really have trouble getting motivated to run in the morning, try to recruit a friend to run with you. Or, find a running group that meets in the morning. You’ll be less likely to skip your run if you know people are waiting for you.
8. Aim for one or two morning runs a week.
Don’t have an “all or nothing” mindset. You don’t have to run every morning to get the benefits. Some people find that morning running is too difficult to fit into their schedule on most days. Start with running one morning a week and see how it goes. Make a habit of running in the morning on the same day, like Sunday. You may find you enjoy it so much that you’ll try to do it on some other days, too.