Getting up and out for a run first thing in the morning as the sun is still rising is the best feeling. There are so many benefits and advantages to working out early in the morning. It can lower stress levels, give you more energy, and make you feel more ready and awake for the day ahead. Studies have shown that a morning routine can even make us happier and more productive. Working out early in the morning has even shown to ease anxiety, and help us sleep better.
But getting up to exercise at the crack of dawn is not everyone's cup of tea. It can be difficult to get motivated when you're not a morning person. And it can take a lot of hard work to establish a habitual morning routine. Yet it's not impossible. There are a few simple things you can do to train your body to become an early morning runner.
Train your body
Training your body to become a morning runner takes a lot of dedication. And it can take some time to settle into a new habit of waking up early and working out. However, it is possible to train yourself to become an early morning runner. Consistency is key here. Because if you’re not consistent in your training, it’s impossible to develop a habit or routine.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same goes for building a new running routine, this needs to built up over time little by little. Start off by setting your alarm a little earlier each day. Begin with a short comfortable jog at a slow easy pace. Gradually increase this each day.
Set your running gear out the night before
By laying out everything the night before you’ll be ready to go as soon as you wake up. The motivation might help to kick-start your routine as soon as your alarm goes off. Check the weather forecast the night before so you can be prepared and adjust to warmer clothing if needed.
Warm up with dynamic stretching
Early in the morning our muscles are cold and our bodies can be stiff. Static stretching before your muscles are warmed up is not ideal (save this for after your run). But dynamic stretching helps to loosen the muscles, increases the heart rate and stimulates blood flow. Arm circles, walking lunges, lateral leg swings and star-jumps are a few dynamic stretches you could incorporate before your run. Start slowly and gradually pick up the pace. By warming up properly before exercise we can improve our flexibility and range of motion, and help to avoid running injuries.
Make a running playlist that will boost your energy
Nothing wakes me up more in the morning than a bit of fun energetic music. It’s just what I need to get me in the mood for running if I find I'm tired or lacking motivation. No matter what type of music you like there are hundreds of running playlists to choose from on Spotify.
If you want to wake early you should be getting a good nights sleep. Ensure you’re getting 8 hours of good uninterrupted sleep a night. Lack of sleep can really take its toll on our bodies, physically and mentally.
Don’t drink caffeine after 2pm
The effects of caffeine can take a while to wear off and this will cause sleeping problems even if it doesn’t feel like it. Cutting down your alcohol consumption is a good idea too. Alcohol is a depressant and can leave us feeling sluggish, particularly in the morning.
Keep your curtains or blinds open at night
Let the natural light wake you up in the morning. In winter when mornings are darker, I once used a lamp clock that simulates the natural sunrise. I found it to be a great way to help me wake up naturally. I absolutely love this FitFort Alarm Clock Wake-up Light on Amazon that also simulates the sunset to help with sleep.
Find a beautiful running route
Whether it’s by the sea, in a park, or through a forest, try to find a running route that you look forward to running. Small things like this I find really motivate me to get up early in the morning.
Get social with your running
Connect with other runners or running communities on social networks like Instagram and Facebook. A little encouragement or inspiration from other runners goes a long way.
Set yourself a goal
By setting a goal you're giving yourself a purpose and reason to get up early and train. Your goal should be clear, specific and well defined. It also needs to motivate you, so it should be realistic and measurable. "I will run 5k in under 30 minutes within the next 2 months" is a good example. It is specific and gives you a time frame to work towards. Keep track of your progress using a smart watch or free app such as Strava or Runkeeper.
"Waking up early will begin to no longer feel like a chore."
Make waking up early a habit
Establish a morning routine and stick to it. On weekends set your alarm earlier than usual, you'll find your body clock will naturally adjust. Waking up early will begin to no longer feel like a chore.
Running first thing in the morning is empowering, and personally it gives me a big sense of achievement at the start of the day. Although it can take a while to establish a routine, remember that it’s all about being consistent. At first it might seem impossible at first, but persevere and you might even find you like it.
Besides, waking up early and getting a workout done in the morning feels great! That feeling will set you up for the day ahead, and makes you feel like you accomplished so much before the day has even begun. You might also get a little bit of pleasure from knowing that when you’re out running, most people are still sleeping!