If you’re going to run consistently, it helps to do so in the morning. If you’re not already a morning person, that can seem impossible. But it’s not – and here are 6 morning running tips to help you get started.
I used to run in the afternoon and evening, after I got off of work. This worked sometimes, but I could never stay consistent.
Usually, I made the most progress over the summer or during vacation periods. But inevitably, work would get in the way. It started with missing one or two runs. Then it was a full week off. Before I knew it, I’d have spent months not running and I’d have to start up all over again.
One of the key advantages to running is the morning is you can make sure it happens. If it’s the first thing you do in the day, you don’t have to worry about anything else coming up and forcing you to change your schedule.
So if you’ve struggled to maintain consistency with running, I’d suggest you give morning running a try. To do so, here are a few of my key morning running tips.
Morning Running Tip #1: Lay Out Your Clothes the Night Before
When you’re operating on a tight schedule, the little things add up.
It may not take all that long to pick out your workout clothes, but you shouldn’t leave that task until the morning. It adds unnecessary time to your morning routine, and it gives you another reason to hit the snooze button.
Your plan for running in the morning should start the night before. Pick out the clothes you’re going to wear and lay them out in a convenient place. Have your running shoes accessible, too.
The idea is that – once you’re ready to head out – you can easily suit up and hit the road in a matter of minutes. No digging in drawers, and definitely no last minute realization that all of your workout clothes are in the dirty hamper.
I always have my running gear set out before I go to sleep and it makes it super easy for me to get dressed and head out. On the occasional morning where I have to be out running by about 6am, this really helps me roll out of bed and hit the ground running.
Tip #2: Skip Breakfast and Eat Later
For most people, eating before running is a bad idea. Digestive issues are deeply personal, but a good way to avoid them is to limit the amount of food intake before running.
As a result, breakfast eaters usually wake up super early to eat breakfast before they run. Call me crazy, but that always struck me as a horrible idea.
In most cases, you don’t need to eat before your run. So choosing to eat breakfast first is just adding unnecessary time to your schedule. That makes you wake up earlier than necessary, and given the fact that sleep is important for recovery that seems counterproductive.
Instead, plan a simple breakfast for immediately after your run. If you’re pressed for time, this will save a lot and let you sleep or run longer.
My routine is simple. I get back from my run, eat a bowl or two of cereal, and then hit the shower to get ready for the day.
Tip #3: Plan Your Workouts to Fit Your Time
Be cognizant of your schedule and plan your run around that.
Everybody’s morning routine is different, and in some cases it can vary from day to day. Some days, I have to be ready for a meeting early. Others, I know I’m not in a rush to start work particularly early.
I also know that there’s a limit to how early I’m wiling to wake up. I’m ok with the occasional 6am wake up and early run. I’m not one of those people that is willing to wake up at 4:30. I think they’re crazy.
So if I know I have an early start at work, I’ll either wake up earlier or move my running schedule around so that I have a shorter run that day. I know that an easy 5-6 mile trail run could last an hour or longer, while an easy 3 mile road run will be less than 30 minutes. If I’m pressed for time, I’d rather do the shorter run than nothing.
When you plan your morning runs, keep in mind what’s actually possible with the other constraints in your schedule. If you know you’re only going to have 30 minutes, then do that.
Otherwise, you’ll fall into the trap of thinking that you don’t have enough time – when what you’re really trying to do is fit a square peg into a round whole. When you can’t change the amount of time you have, match the workout to the time.
Tip #4: Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is so important. This is probably one of the most important morning running tips.
If you’re not already a morning person, you might think it’s impossible to wake up early and exercise. But that can be influenced by how well you sleep and for how long.
If you go to bed late, it will be hard to wake up in the morning. And if you force yourself to wake up early, without going to bed earlier, you’ll just drive yourself to exhaustion. In the long run, that’s going to sabotage your recovery.
But if you spend a week or two waking up early, you’ll be able to fall asleep easier at night. This will let you get to bed earlier and still lock in enough sleep. Your sleep patterns aren’t etched in stone, and you can change them.
Early in the year, my regular wake up time was between 7 and 8. I typically went to bed around midnight. Then, I got a puppy.
The puppy, Artemis, was up by about 6am every morning. That meant I was up at 6am every morning to take her out and play with her for a bit. The first couple weeks were grueling, but soon I started going to sleep closer to 11.
Before long, I was up at 6 every morning, playing with the dog till 7, and then ready for my morning run, walk, or whatever. I didn’t have much choice in the matter, but I was no longer exhausted in the mornings. I felt well rested, and ready to start my day.
Tip #5: Hit the Bathroom If You Have To
Have you ever been out for a run and suddenly felt the urge to “go”?
If you haven’t, count yourself lucky.
Running will jump start your digestive system, and once you get warmed up it can stimulate the need to go. The best way to prevent this is to plan things out so that you go beforehand.
Most morning runners have established a routine that involves a bathroom break before they hit the road. That could mean a cup of coffee to get things started, or it could mean timing your evening meal to help keep things on schedule. You’ll need to find what works for you.
This is also more of a pressing problem if you’re running a) long or b) intense.
I would definitely not recommend going out for an hour long workout or a two hour long run without first hitting the bathroom. But an easy three mile jog is another story.
Tip #6: Be Consistent, and Try It for a Week or Two
Finally, if you’re going to try to become a morning runner, make a commitment. Decide to stick it out for at least one or two weeks before you make a judgement.
It may be difficult at first to wake up and get motivated. But once you do, you’ll quickly enjoy the benefits of morning running.
After a week or two, it will be much easier to wake up early and you’ll begin to adjust to the schedule change. Soon, your mornings won’t feel the same if you don’t get up and go for a run.
What Are Your Morning Running Tips?
I used to be an afternoon and evening running, hitting the road after work. This worked well when the stars aligned, but inevitably things would happen that disrupted my schedule. As a result, I’d inevitably lose my habit and stop running for a while.
Shifting to mornings changed that, and I’ve been regularly running for close to a year now.
How about you? Has morning running worked for you? Or have you struggled to get in the groove?
Leave a comment below and share your story – and your own morning running tips.