There are many good reasons to start running in the morning. You can listen to as many different opinions as you want: “running in the morning makes you run faster”, “running in the morning burns more fat”, “running in the morning is more natural”; but the only reason you should start running in the morning is because you find it fun.
Morning runners often say how much more they enjoy their training, while afternoon runners say they attempted it once or twice and found waking up early and running was not something enjoyable. Perhaps afternoon runners haven’t given their bodies enough time to adapt to morning running.
Research from 1.2 million runners using Nike+ found that people uploading a couple of runs to the website might just be trying it out. However, after they have logged 5 runs, they’re much more likely to keep running and logging workouts. If you’re new to running, you just need to get outside in the morning for 5 days to improve your chances of continuing.
Vow to yourself to do 5 consecutive morning runs before deciding whether or not morning running is something that will work for you.
You don’t need to take any crazy suggestions from other runners like sleeping on your running clothes. After 5 days, you’ll have a clear answer whether or not it will work. Every runner has a preference on what time of the day to run. A lot of the time, runners base this preference entirely on what time of the day they can run the fastest.
Instead, leave your watch at home and forget about your training schedule. Run whatever distance feels comfortable on the day and enjoy yourself. Enjoy the quietness and peacefulness of the morning and you may find that getting up early in itself becomes the reward. Run not at what time of the day you are fastest, but what time of the day makes you happiest. It might seem obvious but if your sleeping schedule is a mess, your chances of making morning running a habit are drastically reduced.
Having a normal sleeping schedule and waking up a few hours earlier is nothing hard, but trying to fix your sleeping schedule and change your training schedule at the same time can be a massive challenge. Work on your sleep schedule before trying to become a morning runner.
Also recognize the fact that morning running simply may not be for you. If you like to stay up late, morning running probably isn’t for you. Without going to bed earlier, becoming a morning runner is nearly impossible. By simply paying closer attention to what your body is saying, you can find out how much sleep your body needs. 8 hours is a rule of thumb, some need more, others need less. It’s hard to become a morning runner using the wrong approach. There is no secret to it, but with all pieces of the puzzle, it’s relatively easy.
When trying out morning running, try to find what works best for you in terms of waking up, what breakfast (if any) to eat, how long to wait before running, what distance to run etc. It doesn’t take long to find out what works best if you listen to your body. After you find what works best for you, the most important thing you can do is become consistent.
Consistency is the key to developing habits.
What should you eat before a run in the morning?
Whether you eat before a run in the morning depends on several things. How far are you running is probably the most important. If I’m heading out the door for three or four miles I might be able to skip food and run on an empty stomach, but trying to run 10 – 12 miles without fuel won’t work.
I normally eat a banana before a run in the morning. It’s a nice light snack which I know from experience is enough to fuel me through my morning run of 6 – 12 miles. Anything long then that I carry energy gels or money to grab something if I run out of fuel.
Everyone is different, so it’s really a case of trial and error.
How far should you run in the morning?
Trail and error is very much the same approach that I’d suggest for judging how far you should run in the morning. Though of course other demands on your time like getting to work or getting kids ready for school can often be the deciding factor.
Personally I might run six miles in the morning during the week and then extend that to twelve plus miles at the weekend.
Whatever the distance, it feels great knowing that you’ve got your morning run done and you’ll feel energised for the rest of the day.
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Jim has been running since he represented his local running club aged 13. Thirty years later he is still finding new ways to stay ahead of the pack in from 5k races through to Ultra Marathons. He started Running Unlimited to share his knowledge of the sport and to keep a record of what’s worked and what hasn’t.