12 Tips to help you become a morning runner
Running in the morning presents many benefits, however, getting out of bed is the hard part. Here are some tips to make it that little bit easier.
Running in the morning is known and appreciated for its many benefits, whether this is getting your run out of the way early or receiving a kick of endorphins first thing to crush the rest of your day. Despite this, many runners struggle to run in the morning, whether the problem is waking up earlier or finding the motivation to go outside and train when it’s still dark and the rest of the family are asleep.
It’s difficult, there’s no doubt about it. And besides, some people are more accustomed and even prefer waking up early and going to bed even earlier. If this doesn’t sound like you, don’t worry, there’s still hope. With this in mind, the remainder of this blog post will signpost various benefits of morning running, followed by twelve morning running tips to turn you into someone who loves training first thing.
Running in the morning benefits
As previously mentioned, we’ve gathered together several of the top benefits of running in the morning. These include:
- You get your run out of the way early
- You begin your day on a positive note
- It’s cooler in the morning, especially in summer
- You accomplish something first thing
- You are able to clear your mind and plan your day
- More time in the evening to spend with friends/family
Becoming a morning runner is no easy task. It will take dedication, patience, and most importantly, the will not to hit the snooze button for the fifth time. So, with this in mind, here’s our twelve morning running tips to help you roll out of bed and into your running shoes without hesitation.
1. Go to bed early
To begin with, if you’re wanting to actually wake up and run in the morning, you’re going to want to go to bed a little earlier than usual. Nonetheless, ensure to still get a minimum of 8-10 hours of sleep by going to bed an hour or two earlier than usual as sleep is crucial, especially where recovery is concerned.
Once the alarm clock inevitably rings, immediately get out of bed and allow yourself a few minutes to become fully conscious. During this time, you should drink a small glass of water and eat an easily digestible snack, such as a banana. Give it a few minutes then lace up and head out the door for your very first morning run.
Tip: Leave a glass of water and snack next to your bed and consume these immediately after waking up.
2. Prepare the night before
To make running in the morning easier, we suggest preparing the night before. For example, you can lay out your running kit, prepare your breakfast, and gather together all of your gear beforehand that will make running in the morning that little bit more convenient (e.g. your headtorch, reflective running jacket or your favourite pair of compression socks.
Tip: You can also sleep in your running kit to make getting up early even easier, although it isn’t the most hygienic of strategies…
3. Run with a friend
Running in the morning is much easier if done with a friend. Before aimlessly setting off first thing, you should discuss and agree on a specific time and place to meet beforehand. Running with a friend will provide you with greater accountability, reducing the chance of you hitting that snooze button and instead opting for the much more tiring but enjoyable option.
Besides, you don’t want to leave your friends hanging!
4. Ease into running in the morning
You won’t become a morning runner overnight, much like you shouldn’t expect to be able to wake up at 5 am all of a sudden. Instead, you must ease into running in the morning, setting a reasonable and realistic time to wake up. Be patient and stick with it, over time, waking up earlier will become easier and a part of your regular morning routine.
Tip: Set your alarm 10-minutes earlier at the start of each week to slowly wake up earlier.
5. Find a safe yet stunning route
As running in the morning is usually darker, especially in winter, you want to map out a well-lit route away from cars. We recommend using the Strava routeplanner, easy to use, and compatible with mobile devices to follow on the go.
Although your route should be safe, it does not mean to say it can’t be stunning! Make the most of being up early and catch the sunrise, something your co-workers will be jealous of, especially if you show them all seventeen pictures you captured while they were fast asleep in bed.
6. Wear the right clothing
The mornings are usually much cooler than the early afternoon and even the evenings. However, you’ll want to wrap up with a three-quarter zip or long-sleeved top to keep warm. Also, remember not to wear cotton as this can cause chafing and irritation.
In winter, you may look to invest in a running headtorch. A running headtorch is essential to stay safe and to see where you’re going on those early mornings, especially if you’re running on or near busy roads.
If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you won’t want to miss your first cup of joe before heading out the door. Not only will coffee help wake you up, but caffeine also reduces your perception of pain – perfect for an early morning tempo or interval session. Alternatively, you can enjoy your first cup after your run, providing you with that extra kick to start the day on the right note.
8. Create a motivational playlist
Next up, consider setting your alarm to a motivational song to help wake up or putting in your earphones to an energizing playlist. Listening to your favourite tracks early in the morning will put you in a good mood, allow you to focus on your run, and most importantly, make your morning run that little bit more enjoyable.
If you don’t know what songs to include in your playlist there are thousands of pre-made motivational and workout playlists available on virtually all music platforms and apps, whether that’s Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, or other available options.
9. Track your runs to stay motivated
Don’t let those early morning runs go to waste, tell the world! Track your run with apps such as Strava or Nike Running. This will allow you to see how far you’ve come, helping you chase those personal bests, and increasing your motivation not to break your newly found schedule.
If you ever feel progress lacking or can’t quite muster the motivation to face a morning run, look back on your training for a little extra motivation – you’ll be surprised just how far you’ve come.
10. Fuel yourself correctly for running in the morning
Alongside consuming a light snack before your run, you need to fuel yourself correctly for morning running. This doesn’t mean directly before your run – instead, this is your diet as a whole. Eating healthier overall, including good sources of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins will help you feel better, but will also provide you with the required energy to crush your morning run.
We’re not saying you need to ditch the odd chocolate biscuit, dessert, or pint of beer, but perhaps be more mindful, especially if you plan on drinking several pints and running a few hours later…
11. Be patient and ease into morning running
No matter how many morning running tips you read, it will take time to accustom yourself to your new morning running schedule. Therefore, it’s crucial that you remain patient and kind to yourself. If you miss one day or wake up slightly later then usual, know that this is okay – simply pick it back up again tomorrow.
Habits are not formed overnight – it’s a long process, but one that is super rewarding if you stick with it!
12. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the mornings
Finally, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the mornings. Chances are, if you’re waking up that little bit earlier you’re able to watch the sunrise nice and early, perhaps something you don’t do regularly. Take the time to enjoy this, make the mornings your time, time to think, an opportunity for reflection, and time dedicated towards your training.
Once you begin to appreciate just how beautiful and quiet the mornings are, you’ll begin to enjoy running in the morning that little bit more.
Frequently asked questions
Alongside our twelve morning running tips as seen above, we’ve also compiled a short FAQ to answer various questions below:
What to eat after running in the morning?
After running in the morning, you should eat a snack or meal that contains a mix of both carbohydrates and protein. For example, this could be porridge and an omelette, a glass of chocolate milk, or something as simple as a few eggs and a couple of slices of toast. The carbohydrates help restore your energy levels for the remainder of the day, and the protein helps repair your body before your next run.
What to eat before running in the morning?
Some runners choose to skip breakfast altogether. However, instead, we recommend eating something easy to digest, such as a banana, a handful of fruit, or an energy bar. Essentially, you want to eat something high in energy but not too heavy on your stomach - your meal after your run is where the bulk of your macronutrients should come from.
Should I drink water before running?
Yes! You should definitely drink water before training, especially if you did not consume any fluid during the night as you run the risk of dehydration. At a minimum, consume a glass of water thirty to sixty minutes before your run, more if it doesn't sit in your stomach.
Is it better to run in the morning or the evening?
Both have their benefits, however, many runners choose to run in the morning because it gets their run out of the way before work and other commitments. Also, during summer your run will be much cooler, allowing you to avoid the heat and stick to your training plan like glue.
Matthew is a lifelong runner, chief tester of all products, the founder of Running101, and freelance content writer for active brands. When he’s not writing, he enjoys lifting weights, cycling in the Lake District, and watching fast cars drive in circles on a Sunday. He also has a BA in sport, exercise and physical activity from the University of Durham.