If you’ve never tried it yourself, maybe you’ve wondered how (and perhaps why) people love running first thing in the morning. But deep down, you know there are many advantages to making a run the first thing you do to start the day. For one, it takes care of an important daily task—getting some intense physical exercise—right away, rather than leaving it for later in the day when one might be exhausted, both physically and mentally. Second, it can help energize the mind and body, preparing one for the day ahead.
So how does one get themselves in a position to make morning runs a part of their regular routine? Let’s take a look at some steps you can take to start the day off with an energizing run through the neighborhood…
1. Schedule a Full Night’s Sleep
The one thing capable of derailing plans to run in the morning: not getting enough sleep the night before. If you think it’s hard to get up in the morning when you get a full night’s sleep, try doing it when you’ve had only four or five hours of decent rest.
To start a morning running routine and keep it going, you’ll need to schedule when you go to bed and be sure to give yourself enough time to get a solid night’s sleep. For those who have trouble falling asleep, this may mean giving yourself extra time in bed. You may also want to consider using a natural sleep aid, such as valerian root or melatonin (though be sure to run this idea by your physician first).
2. Get Ready the Night Before
Failing to get enough sleep isn’t the only way you can sabotage your plans to start a morning running routine. Another potential problem: not being prepared when you get up. Having to scramble around the house to find your running gear—including your clothes, shoes and accessories (such as a music player)—can reduce the time you have for your run. It may even be enough to prevent you from running at all.
To avoid this problem, get everything ready the night before. Pick the running clothes and shoes that match the morning’s weather and have your accessories ready to go, too. Ideally, you’re out running around the neighborhood as quickly and easily as possible.
3. Get Stretched
As soon as you’re geared up for your morning run, take a minute or two to get your muscles ready for the task ahead. This doesn’t have to be an extended stretching session—you can actually leave that for the end of your run—but you should get your muscles warmed up, seeing as you’ve just woken up and haven’t used them for several hours.
These warm-up stretches don’t have to be complicated: just stretch out your various leg muscles, holding each position for at least thirty seconds. It’s also wise to start your run slowly, building up a faster pace as you go along. A good way to hurt yourself is to sprint out the door first thing in the morning, particularly if you’re only getting used to starting your day with a run.
4. Sip a Coffee
This isn’t a must, but could offer some help for those who really struggle with functioning first thing in the morning. In addition to having your clothes, shoes and accessories ready to go for your morning run, prepare materials for a quick coffee.
That’s because research from CNN has shown that getting some caffeine in your system can help you exercise better and for longer than going without. If you don’t need the caffeine, don’t worry about it; but if you’re the type that simply despises getting out of bed in the morning, consider using this strategy to help you kick-start your run.
5. Buddy Up
Starting a morning running routine on your own can be really difficult, particularly for those who have a hard time getting out of bed to start the day. If that’s the case for you, consider buddying up with a friend who’s also keen to start a morning running routine.
That way you can motivate each other to get up and hit the pavement. Knowing that failing to get out of bed could disappoint a friend may be just enough motivation to help a non-morning person change their ways. A buddy can also motivate you to run harder and further, helping you burn more calories and get closer to your fitness goals.
6. Start Slowly
Even if you start your new morning routine with a brief stretch and warm up, you should still avoid charging out the door at full sprint. That’s a good way to tire yourself out before getting through your run or, even worse, pull a muscle or doing something else to hurt yourself. Keep in mind that you won’t be doing any running at all if you take things too fast and end up injured.
Taking it slow also means being reasonable about how far you go on your run. Don’t immediately try to run a half marathon first thing in the morning; instead, progress from five to ten to however many kilometres you have the time and energy to complete. Take your time getting to your distance goal—it’s not a race!
7. Grab a Quick Snack
Running on an empty stomach is better than running on a full stomach, but neither is ideal. When you get up in the morning, grab a light snack, such as a banana and a few nuts or a granola bar. You want something that will give you a little boost of energy but won’t hold you back by causing you to cramp up and slow down.
It’s also a good idea to pair your light morning snack with a beverage. Water is always a good choice, but you might also consider a small coffee (the caffeine could give you a much-needed boost), tea, or juice. Again, though, you want to avoid overdoing it—drinking too much will leave you feeling the urge to use the washroom when you’re far from home.
8. Wear the Right Clothes
Starting a morning running routine requires that you pay attention to the evening weather. That’s because it’s crucial that you’re aware of the weather conditions when you get up for your morning run. If it’s cold and snowing outside, but you step out your front door wearing shorts and a t-shirt, your run won’t last very long (and it will be rather uncomfortable).
So, be prepared by laying out clothes that match the weather. It may also be wise to lay out a back up set of clothing just in case the weather forecast is wrong— it’s been known to happen!
9. Don’t Let Weekends Get in the Way
If you’re looking to start a morning running routine, you’ll need to get used to getting up fairly early each day. That means being consistent with the time you wake up, even on days that you’re not planning to run.
This may be problematic if you work on weekdays and prefer to sleep in on weekend mornings. Changing your wake up time like this can make it more difficult to get up on weekday mornings, making it rather difficult to maintain a morning running routine. So, don’t let weekends get in the way: try to get up at a consistent time, even on Saturdays and Sundays.