Would you like to start running in the morning? Then you have come to the right place.
They say that the early bird gets the worm, and the world belongs to those who get up early.
But all in all, running first thing in the morning is an amazing way to start the day (more on the benefits of morning runs later on). Even not everyone is a morning person, choice or no choice.
That’s why, in today’s post, I’m sharing the full guide on how to become a morning runner without much hassle.
Stick to the end, and not only will you have the tools you need to become a morning runner, but you will also be able to take control of your schedule and build healthy habits.
Let’s lace up and dig in.
The Benefits of Morning Runs
Is running in the morning a good idea? Let me make a case for it.
- Boost productivity. You’ll be more productive for the rest of the day since running first thing in the morning helps you feel energized and uplifted for the rest of the day.
- Be more consistent. You’ll achieve better consistency because, in the early morning, the rest of the world is still asleep, so you have no family, work, or other obligations to interfere with your workout plan.
- Fully charged willpower. Willpower (whatever that means for you) is a finite source of energy. Fortunately, proper sleep recharges it, making the morning the perfect time to tap into this excellent energy source.
- Better for weight loss. According to some experts, running before breakfast boosts metabolism for several hours afterward, helping you burn more calories than if you work out later in the evening. This is referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
- Less traffic. Depending on where you live, most roads tend to be less congested during the first few hours of the day, so if you love breathing fresh air while steering clear of pollution and cars, morning runs are the way to go
- Race better. Morning runs will help you be better prepared to race since most races occur in the morning.
- Enhance your mood. Running (and other forms of exercise) stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain, which can enhance your mood and help you start your day on a positive note, keeping stress at bay for the remainder of the day.
- Mental power. Running first thing in the morning means that you will get to make the most out of this increase of brainpower during the most productive times of the day—the morning—instead of putting it to no good use while you are chilling out watching TV in the evening or sleeping later at night.
- 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.
- Improved Sleep Quality. Another reason to start a day with a run is that it may lead to a better night’s sleep. But, again, don’t take my word for it. Research reported that people that exercised at 7 am had spent more time in deep sleep at night than those that exercised at 7 pm.
- Free Up Your Evenings. Once you log in your miles first thing, your evenings will be wide open to do whatever you want. You can go out, have a date, read a book, or watch Netflix. Of course, you might still have a lot of things to cross off your to-do list, but that’s okay. Your run is done.
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:
- Make a ritual. Or so-called sleep hygiene. Create a nightly sleep ritual that helps you unwind. For example, do something relaxing, bath, yoga, meditation, or reading.
- Go to Bed Early. The first step is going to bed as early as possible. Sleep only for less than six hours, and you won’t have enough energy to run—nor do anything else in your life. My goal bedtime is 11.00 pm. That way, I ensure I have at least hours of quality uninterrupted sleep once my alarm clock goes off at around 6.30 am. Some people believe they can survive much less, but I doubt it. The science on this is quite clear.
- Get your significant other on board. If you’re living with another person, a spouse, or a partner, you need to get them on board; otherwise, there will be consequences.
- Eat light at night. Eat at least two to three hours before going to bed. Avoid bloat-inducing, spicy foods and stimulants like caffeine and heavy drinking. Going to bed right after dinner can make you feel bloated, which may ruin the quality of your slumber.
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.
In the one to two hours before bed, dim your room lights, stop checking your Facebook and Instagram, turn off the TV, and avoid all forms of texting—this is exactly what you need to set up an environment that lulls you into sleep mode.
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
I know it’s hard to get up early, but rifling through the dark half-asleep trying to find your running gear wastes precious. This, in turn, may make you more likely to skip your workout.
So prepare everything. Charge your phone, update your music playlist, prepare your water bottle and a pre-run snack, get your clothes and shoes out, and lay them on the floor.
Plan your running routine—mainly, how far, how long, and your running route. Use sites like WalkJogRun or MapMyRun to look up and find safe and popular routes for your morning runs. Some of you might want to try a new route, but popular routes are safer. Success favors the prepared mind.
Bonus tip for the hectic runner: sleep in your running clothes. Of course, the fresh ones, not the smelly ones, don’t include your running shoes. I know this sounds silly but just give it a try and see for yourself.
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.
Here are a few things you can do to set up your environment right.
- Put the alarm away. Put your phone or alarm clock away from your bed, so when it goes off, you’ll have to sit up, swing your legs off the bed (or jump out of the bed if you have to), touch the floor with your legs, spread your arms wide, then walk to reach your alarm. This may help you resist the snooze button, according to research. If you can still reach your alarm clock while in bed, the chances of hitting the snooze button are 98.9887 percent higher (don’t quote me on this stat).
- Set two alarm clocks. For good measure, set at least two obnoxious sounding alarms on your phone, so when the first one goes off, you want to get up, and when the second is when you should get up. Make sure you put the most annoying ringtone.
- Bring in the light. According to science, exposure to natural light helps shift your body clock, so you’re more alert in the morning. Waking up before the sun is out? Consider using a wake-up lightbox, which is a device that will brighten your room once the alarm goes off. Or just turn on all the lights in the 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
So should you eat something before your morning run?
I have no qualms about training on an empty stomach, especially after I got into the keto diet and intermittent fasting. But I understand that not every runner is the same. So if you’re a breakfast person, stick with lighter options.
As a matter of fact, for some people, training in a fasted state may not be safe. It might even hinder their running goals.
To err on caution, eat something before heading out the door. A small morning snack or simple sugar may ensure that you have enough energy in the tank—especially if you are planning to run for more than an hour.
Good options include:
- A banana,
- Whole-grain cereal,
- Whole wheat toast,
- Dried fruits,
- An energy bar,
- Granola bar without added sugars,
- A hard-boiled egg.
Here’s the full guide to runners diet.
Run In The Morning With a Partner
Feeling reluctant about your morning run? Schedule it with a training buddy. You are, after all, the company you keep. And keeping runners as the company is an excellent decision to make.
The rewards (as well as the punishment) that come with group running might be enough to hold you accountable for your action—especially when you’d rather hit the snooze and skip the run.
Pairing up not only helps you keep yourself accountable and consistent but there’s also safety in numbers. So if it’s an issue, especially when running in a not-so-safe, bring someone.
Your training buddy can be a family member, a friend, or someone from the gym or local club—just make the commitment and hold each other accountable. The rest is just details.
As I repeat time and time, the key to success is to focus on incremental changes.
Trying overnight makeovers is a recipe for disaster. But try to do so, and you’ll end up worse off in one week or two. Or else, back to your old lazy routine.
Instead, adopt the gradual approach.
For example, if you’re used to going to bed at 1 am, try turning in 15 to 20 minutes earlier and waking 15 to 20 earlier for the first week. Keep doing this until you your new time goal is reached.
And you shouldn’t be aiming to run in the morning from the get-go. Instead, try to build the habit of waking up earlier than you are used to, then maybe do a short indoor workout to build the habit of early morning exercise.
Remember that building healthy habits requires time, patience, and a lot of trial and error.
Additional resource – How to run With a Partner
How Long Should a Morning Run Be?
This is a tricky question as it depends on you and your fitness level. For example, 20 to 30 minutes might be enough if you’re a beginner runner. But let’s say you’re training for a marathon, then you’ll complete runs within one to two hours (or even longer).
But all in all, if you’re short on time and want to make the most of your morning run, I recommend doing an interval workout.
These usually take no longer than 30 minutes to complete and will push you out of your comfort zone.
Have a Training Plan
Follow a well-structured running plan. You should know, in advance, how fast and how far you’ll go, as well as how long it should take.
It’s much harder to blow off a morning run when you’re following specific training—especially when training for a particular race.
Planning your runs helps end the barrage of excuses that will try to interfere with your success.
I recommend you come up with a plan for the entire week or even a monthly plan if you’re that ambitious. The clearer the plan, the better, both for the short and long term.
One thing to understand before you finish reading this article and, hopefully, decide to swallow “the morning running pill” is that it takes time to build this habit—especially if you’re not a morning person.
Becoming a morning person is no easy task. It requires time, effort, and discipline. Waking up earlier than usual will feel extremely difficult at first, but it gets easier once it’s a habit.
Habits take time to form, and science suggests that it can take up to 4 weeks, sometimes even more, to develop a new habit.
If four weeks weren’t enough, stick with it for at least two to three months.
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.