Are you looking to run when the sun comes up but having trouble getting motivated? Do you want to train first thing in the morning but don't know where to start?
We have some tips and tricks here that will help you change from being an afternoon or evening jogger to an early bird.
Why run in the morning?
There are lots of advantages to kicking off your day with a run.
For starters, the air is both cooler and cleaner, as you're hitting the pavement (or the trail, or the track...) before people begin their daily commutes.
It's also good for your blood pressure, and this habit is especially interesting if you have high blood pressure. A doctor at Appalachian State University monitored both sleep patterns and blood pressure of several groups, aged 40 to 60, who walked on a treadmill at different times of day: 7 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Those that worked out first thing in the morning saw their blood pressure drop by 10% on average, and by 25% at night.
Running in the morning can also help you lose weight faster. If you get to it in the a.m., you'll be jumpstarting your metabolism. As a result, you'll burn calories faster during the course of the day. And if you go to bed early so you can wake up early to run, chances are you won't be snacking late in the day.
It's great for your mood. Running first thing in the morning, when you have no distractions, is an excellent stress reliever, and doing your cardio right when you wake up can help you stay positive all day long.
It ensures that you get a run in. As your day unfolds, there are lots of things that can get in the way of an afternoon or evening sweat session. Many times there are unforeseen changes and conflicts that could make it hard for you to fit a run in. If you plan for it in the morning, you're more likely to make it happen.
How to run in the morning
Now, if you are sufficiently convinced that you need to switch your run to the morning, or even if you didn't need convincing but need some advice, read on for 12 essential tips on how to get ready for your a.m. session.
1. Plan it out the night before.
Decide where you're going to run, for how long and how far. This will help you get motivated. If you're preparing for a specific race or event, it helps to follow a training schedule, as it will be harder for you to skip your morning run.
2. Go to bed early, and even put your alarm clock on the other side of the room.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it's important to get the sleep you need so you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to rock. Experts say you need 7 or 8 hours, and sleeping 10 hours can seriously enhance your athletic performance. Placing your alarm clock out of reach will keep you from hitting the snooze button. Over and over.
3. Sleep in your running clothes (except for your sneakers!)
While this may sound utterly ridiculous, a lot of serious runners swear by this strategy. It saves you time in the morning and makes it just a little bit easier to get going.
4. Expose yourself to lots of light as soon as you get up.
Don't ease into it. Just turn on the as many lights as you can when you wake up and give yourself that jolt (while being respectful of other people who may be sleeping, of course).
5. Wear the right clothing.
You should always dress for the weather, and if you're hitting the streets early wear bright colors, like yellow and orange. If you're running at the crack of dawn, if doesn't hurt to throw on some reflective gear.
6. Eat something, but not just anything.
You absolutely have to get some carbs in your system. Try to eat anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes before you exercise, and nosh on any of the following: fig cookies, yogurt with fruit, pretzels and hummus, or a bagel with bananas and peanut butter.
If you're a coffee or tea drinker, have a half cup in the a.m. Caffeine is known for being an effective pre-run performance enhancer.
Don't forget to drink some water too! You will inevitably wake up dehydrated, so be sure to hydrate before your run. You should drink between 6 oz. and 8 oz. of water before you get out there.
8. Don't skip the warm up.
Running in the morning requires a bit of a longer warm-up. Stretch and then walk for about 5 minutes and pick up the pace until you're walking briskly.
9. Ease into it.
You just woke up and got out of bed. You need to ease into your run. It's not like in the afternoon, when you've been on the move all day long. Take the first 10 minutes or so at an easy pace.
Another option is to alternate between power walking and running for 1 or 2 minute intervals until you get your groove.
10. Create the right playlist (if you listen to music)
Listening to music is great for motivation. Create a playlist that builds in intensity, and it will help push you through your early-morning run.
11. Find a partner in crime, or even several!
This is great for accountability. If you have someone to run with, or if you can join a running group, you will be less likely to hit the snooze button and stay in bed.
12. Create a post-run ritual.
Make sure you stretch and have a shower, and aim to eat and drink something within about 30 minutes of your run. Have some carbs to replenish those you depleted, and some protein to avoid sore muscles. A great option is chocolate milk.
And there you have it! Everything you need to know to get out there and run in the morning.
One last tip: Don't expect it to happen overnight. It may be hard at first to transition to morning runs. Try to ease into it by going to bed about 10 minutes earlier and then waking up 10 minutes earlier to start.
And stick with it! Before you know it you'll be waking up early in the morning, with no alarm clock, and itching to get out there!