Have you ever been envious of the morning runner? Those people that are up bright and early on their morning run whilst you are struggling to see beyond your coffee?
Phrases such as ‘I am a morning person’ or’ I am an evening person’ will be absolutely true as they will reflect the lifestyle you have chosen.
We all have patterns, I am an evening person in the way that I have chosen to plan my day. Much of this is driven by doing most of my exercise in the evening and going to be late. It is unlikely that if you are going to bed late, that you will be up and running at 6am. Unless of course you naturally need very little sleep.
If you are a night owl wishing to switch to become an early bird, a morning runner, the AM exercise fanatic, it is off course possible, but it takes a little bit of effort and adjustment.
Many of us are happy evening runners, but for those looking to switch, there are some positive elements to morning exercise that may help you along:
- There is something to be said about the lasting effect of exercise, not only the physical benefits but also the mental impact. Going for a run can be seen as the first achievement of the day. Having already achieved your first goal before even getting to work sets you up for the other challenges of the day.
- It changes your mood, exercise triggers a chemical release in the brain that also makes you happier. Start your day with sport, start you day with a smile.
- Leave your evening open for other activities: go see friends, watch a movie, put your feet up and relax. I have so often heard people say ‘No, I can’t go out, I have to go run’. Once they are out their running they will enjoy it, but especially when training for an event, the pressure from your ‘need’ to run can be a weight you carry with you for the entire day.
- Consistency: the likelihood of ‘staying late at the office’ is unlikely before you even get to work. You may have early meetings, but these are typically calendar items that you can plan around.
There are good reasons to run in the morning. Both from a perspective of getting your exercise done, and to free up time for other activities. But how do you make the switch?
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1.Accept That It May Not Feel Great at First
The first time I tried to go for a morning run, I hated it. Getting up earlier left me feeling like I had cut my sleep short. Which I had. I felt rushed, looking at my watch constantly to make sure I would still be on time for work (I ended up being early) and the great energised feeling wore off quickly leaving me feeling tired.
Where did I go wrong?
Nowhere… it just takes some time to adjust to a new pattern. The key ingredient is sticking to your plan and accepting that you will take some time to adjust. Sticking to your plan also means respecting it on your non-morning exercise days. If you jump and switch between staying up late on ‘free’ days and heading to bed early before running days, you are making it difficult to adjust and find a routine.
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2.Set Your Bedtime Alarm
One of my biggest downfalls is going to bed too late. This may seem obvious but time sometimes slips away so fast and before I know it it’s late and I am shortening my sleep too much to make my morning run enjoyable.
Do some backward planning and know your bedtime. Set a recurring alarm so you know you are reaching your bedtime. If you a late night TV addict, avoid starting that last episode of your favourite show when you know it will over run on your bedtime. Instead, get to bed early with a book and relax, of start getting your running gear ready, and then switch off the lights at a reasonable hour.
As time goes on and you develop a routine this will get easier naturally. As your body adjusts to its new pattern you will feel tired earlier and as a result also start going to bed earlier.
3.Get Your Sports Gear Ready Before Bed
This is a common recommendation, as is sleeping in your sports gear. It’s not that I don’t know where my sports clothes are, I could find them in the dark but there is a more significant benefit attached to this gesture.
When you run your mindset plays a significant role. The same is true in the preparation for your run. By laying out your clothes the night before you have already made a decision to commit to your morning run, and that us the first part of the battle.
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4.Prepare Your Route
This is particularly important if you are on a training plan. Your runs may vary from run-to-run, and therefore knowing the distance, the type of run and deciding your route before bed will mean one less thing to think and hesitate about when you get up.
Not knowing your route can quickly become another reason to hit snooze and turn around for some more sleep.
5.Get a Running Buddy
If you know someone who is on the same mission as you, or someone who us already a morning runner, it is a great idea to team up with them. Knowing that someone else is depending on you and will be waiting for you if you are late, makes for powerful motivation. Joining a group run will bring with it a great number of benefits that are worth exploring.
6. Don’t Hit Snooze
This requires discipline (or tricks). With every hit of the snooze button the likelihood of getting up and making it out for your run decreases, and for what? An extra 20 minutes of interrupted sleep.
You have choices here. Either apply discipline, practice mental strength and focus on your desire for morning exercise. Get up when the alarm goes without considering snooze as an option.
Alternatively, you can apply other tricks such as putting your alarm at the other side of the room. This however may be less enjoyable if you have a wife/husband who is not joining you for your morning run. They may enjoy the extra sleep time without your interruption.
7. Enjoy The Early Morning
I know this may require you to set your alarm even earlier… but for me it is worth it. I have grown to enjoy the early morning, even finding myself reading the morning news whilst I sip my coffee in the silence of the morning (I thought reading the news with a coffee in the week only happened in the movies). This gives me a chance to wake up and get ready for my run. Personally, I don’t enjoy getting up and rushing out the door.
This helps me feel like the transition from sleep to exercise is a little more gentle and makes my morning run more enjoyable.
8.Don’t Rush Your Run
During my first morning runs I felt pressured constantly assuming I was going to be late for work.
If you plan your time correctly, this will not happen. This again plays partly into knowing the route you will run, and assuming you roughly know your pace or the planned duration of your run, you will know exactly how long you will be out their for. Allow some time to warm down and stretch at the end of your run, to shower and get yourself out the door for the day that lies ahead.
With a little backward planning, it is easy to know how much time you need and therefore to plan your time for a relaxing run.
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Jeroen is a keen runner and triathlete. With over 10 years of experience training and participating in races, simply for the joy of sport he has turned to sharing his experience through the articles he writes. As a founder at Loop Social Sport Jeroen has focused his passion on creating a community of like minded individuals who not only train together but also motivate newcomers to take up sport, whether in person or via this blog.