Many runners have a love/hate relationship with running in the morning. Some runners love it, whilst others can’t stand the thought of it. Whatever camp you fall into, there are some actionable tips to make running in the morning that much easier.
We all know that running in the morning, however beneficial, is not an easy habit. Family commitments, work commutes and busy schedules can all get in the way. Even more so, if you’re not a morning person, it can be a real struggle to pull yourself out of bed in the morning.
In this blog I’d like to share some actionable tips for running in the morning to make it that much easier for you. Whatever your reasons for wanting to run in the morning, I hope you find these tips useful.
7 tips for running in the morning
Form a healthy sleep habit
You have probably seen this written in every self-help article out there, but sleep is so important to your health and wellbeing and your sleep patterns can have a huge impact on how you lead your life.
Think about how you feel after a good night’s sleep: you feel refreshed and ready to take on whatever the world has to throw at you. Therefore, it’s important that you build and prioritise healthy sleep habits.
Building healthy sleep habits may be a challenge for you if you’re used to watching late-night TV or scrolling through your social media feed on your phone.
There are a few simple things that you can implement though to make building these habits easier.
- Form a nightly routine to help you relax and unwind before bedtime. This could be a warm bath, meditation or listening to calm music.
- Set up a quiet and comfortable sleep space in your bedroom. Minimise the amount of natural light or streetlight entering your bedroom, and ensure the temperature in the room is just right.
- Avoid caffeine or alcohol three hours before bedtime. This could increase the likelihood of restless nights.
- Don’t look at your phone or TV an hour before bedtime. The blue light from these devices may make it harder for your brain to switch off when the time comes.
- Form a regular sleep schedule. Plan to go to sleep at the same time every night.
Practice makes perfect so over time these tips will hopefully ease you into a good sleep routine.
Lay out your running clothes the night before
This is a great way to save time and make running in the morning and getting out the door that much easier. Lay your clothes out next to your bed so that you’re ready to go in the morning.
If you prefer, leave them in the bathroom so you don’t wake up your partner in the morning.
Having your clothes ready the night before is also a good way to psych yourself up for the run. Being prepared for the run ahead will give a small confidence boost in the morning, knowing that you have one less thing to worry about.
Create a reward system
A reward system is a great way to motivate yourself to go for a run. I wrote about this in my blog 9 ways to motivate yourself to go for a run.
You may have heard of reward systems and management in a professional sense, but they also work really well when setting and achieving personal goals.
Completing a run gives you a great sense of achievement anyway, but simple things like crossing off days on a calendar, a massage or treating yourself to a warm hot shower when you get back from a run can all form part of a good reward system.
There has been a lot of research into how receiving recognition and praise can affect an individual. Appreciation and gratefulness affect certain parts of the brain, including the hypothalamus, which regulates things like our appetite, sleep and dopamine levels.
So next time you struggle to motivate yourself to go for a run in the morning, think of the reward that you will get for completing the run.
Find a running buddy
Running with someone is great because it obligates you to keep running. Running in a group is also a surefire way to maintain your running groove.
Be sure to find a running buddy who matches your fitness (and motivation) levels. The same applies when finding a running group.
Figure out your stomach
One of the biggest things preventing me from becoming a morning runner was my stomach habits. If you’re new to morning running, then your gut will need to become familiar with this new routine.
You may have already experienced it: being interrupted mid-run by a frantic need to find a toilet, or a secluded spot. There are ways to make your transition to morning running by helping your gut navigate this new routine.
Gradually let your body (and stomach) wake up by performing a few dynamic stretches before your run. Often, the anxiety at the thought being caught out mid-run can lead to you thinking something bad will happen. By gradually easing your body into the run, your body will soon get into the swing of things.
Another good tip is to alter your running route so that you loop back to your home within the first two miles. This way you can pop back home if needed.
Your gut health is as much about eating smart as it is about choosing the right time to run.
In the morning you are in a fasted state so you have little in the way of energy. If you head out the door having eaten nothing at all, you may feel weak.
Rather than heading straight out the door, take a moment to grab a quick energy snack like a banana, breakfast bar, a slice of toast with peanut butter.
Think of the post-run high
There are lots of benefits to morning running. You don’t need me to tell you that exercise releases endorphins, which give you a big energy boost. What better way to start your day!
Think of this post-run high and how better you will feel for completing your run first thing in the morning.
If it’s a question of motivation, then try the following:
- The benefits of exercise and how better you will feel after the run
- Remember that you’ll be back home in under an hour depending on how long your run will be.
- Imagine all the people exercising now and how you can do it too
- Remember that getting out the door is always the hardest part. Commit to doing the first few hundred metres of your run and you’ll keep going.