Conquer Your Morning Miles: Becoming A Morning Runner

Key Points

  • A morning run productively kick-starts your day.

  • The best time to get in a morning jog is between five and eight a.m.

  • Taking good care of all aspects of your health is the best way to run without getting tired.

  • Preparation, discipline, and accountability are the keys to a successful morning run. 

It’s 4:45 am. Your alarm blares in your ear. Why did you pick the most annoying sound possible? Groaning into your pillow, you roll over and press the snooze button. “Just 10 more minutes,” you whisper before falling back into the glorious depths of sleep. Your morning run can wait a little longer.

Two hours later, you’re jolted awake by the sound of your dogs barking. Panicking, you grab your phone and check the time: 6:45 am. You toss your blankets to the side and rise out of bed, mentally kicking yourself for sleeping in. You desperately wish you had consistent motivation for a morning run!

What Are The Benefits of a Morning Run?

Waking up at the crack of dawn to train is a bizarre concept for those who lovingly cherish every hour of sleep. Running at five a.m. seems downright miserable — especially if you're a night owl — so you laugh to yourself and think that could never be you. How the heck would you survive the rest of your day?

However, a morning run offers surprising benefits. For starters, it sets the tone for a positive, productive, and joyful day. As you chase those morning miles, you’re blasted with a thrilling endorphin rush leaving you energized and motivated. 

Jogging also alleviates stress and anxiety. While you run, your blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Research suggests that running also stimulates neurogenesis: a bodily process that generates new brain cells. With enhanced brainpower, you possess the focus and creativity needed to resolve conflict and embrace new perspectives.

The rest of the world is still asleep, so it’s quiet and peaceful outside. By hitting your stride before the sun rises, you avoid suffering from surging temperatures and the risk of heat stroke. Since you’re comfortable in a cooler atmosphere, you train harder and enjoy the experience a lot more.

You improve endurance, strengthen your muscles, and increase your body’s ability to use fat as fuel, which promotes healthy weight loss. Bonus? You feel a greater sense of accomplishment because you got up early to do the work. Over time, this instills confidence to conquer more rewarding challenges.

Most races begin before daylight, so morning runs are a perfect way to train for an upcoming event. They simulate identical environmental conditions you have to push through on the big day, which helps your muscles gradually adapt and perform their best at dawn. 

Why Is Running Harder in the Morning?

On top of fighting your alarm clock, running is harder in the morning because your body temperature is at its lowest. When you’re cold, your muscles feel tight, your joints are less lubricated, and you have reduced lung capacity. Since you’re already tired, this makes you even more cranky.

Ever wonder why you always wake up thirsty? It’s because your body loses water while you sleep. Replenish with fluids before heading out to jog so that you’re not battling dehydration!

You likely haven’t eaten since dinner the night before either, so your blood sugar levels are diminished. If you exercise on an empty stomach, you deplete your energy stores even further. Every time your foot pounds the ground, your legs become heavier and weaker and your body begs for relief.

The worst disadvantage of all? It’s dark outside. Unless you run in areas that are crowded and well-lit, oncoming traffic has a difficult time spotting you on the side of the road. Plus, you never know who’s lurking around the next corner. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Safety tip: Wear bright, reflective clothes and consider buying a headlamp so drivers see you. Does the thought of headgear make you cringe? No worries! Online stores sell colorful running light vests to layer over your workout top. 

How Do You Become a 5:00 a.m. Runner?

Running before the sun rises is hard, but not impossible. 

Set yourself up for success by adhering to the following steps:

Get Adequate Sleep

Five a.m. wake-up calls are brutal when you’re used to staying up past 10 p.m. To wake up for a morning run, you must go to bed earlier. Sacrificing sleep to work out damages your physical and mental health. Long-term sleep deprivation also counteracts the benefits of running in the morning, putting you right back at square one.

If you have trouble winding down at night, try taking melatonin, a sleep aid, or Kava: a natural herb that combats insomnia. These help you relax, fall asleep faster, 

Prepare The Night Before

Being a successful five a.m. runner requires planning and execution. Before anything else, establish an achievable morning run routine. This ensures that everything goes smoothly before, during, and after your sweat sesh.

The night before, use your phone to check the morning weather and set out appropriate attire: 

  • Clothes

  • Socks

  • Shoes

  • Headgear or running light vest

  • Earbuds for music

  • Smartwatch for performance tracking

  • Sunglasses

  • Water bottle

From here, prep a motivating playlist filled with songs you love or select a thought-provoking podcast. Determine how early and far you intend to run for self-accountability.

The best time to jog is between five a.m. and eight a.m. For beginners, start with one to three miles and gauge how your body responds. For athletic beginners who train regularly, begin with three to four miles and work your way up. 

Three to four runs per week at 20 to 30 minutes each — roughly two to four miles — is a great starting point.

Fill your dinner plate with complex carbs such as veggies, rice, and sweet potatoes. Before bedtime, chug some extra water to prevent morning dehydration.

Pro tip: Strategically place your alarm clock on the far side of the room. This eliminates your access to the snooze button!

Properly Fuel

Wake up and drink 8-16 ounces of water about 30 minutes before to prevent your stomach from sloshing around while you warm up. For extra hydration and enhanced performance, replace water with 8-12 ounces of an electrolyte sports drink.

If mornings are a massive struggle for you, down a cup of coffee, tea, or pre-workout for your energy boost!

A light snack is best before a long run. Play around to see what works best for you. A granola bar, banana, protein bar, whole-grain toast with peanut butter, applesauce, or dairy-free overnight oats are ideal because they’re gentle on your stomach and won’t weigh you down while you train. 

Prepare your pre-run meal the night before to save time. Avoid consuming spicy, high-fat, or high-fiber foods as these take longer to digest. 

Always Warmup

Stretch, stretch, stretch! Do this the night before, the morning of, and immediately after to diminish your risk of injury. Stretching also better equips your muscles to handle the physical stress and impact of running. 

Side lunges and arm circles are a staple for your warm-up routine. Dynamic stretches, or movements that mildly replicate running, loosen up your muscles and improve the quality of your run!

Download A Running App

Running apps track your mileage, pace, and calories burned as well as provide daily inspiration for growth. They also connect you with a supportive community and reward you for hitting milestones and staying committed to your goals. Talk about a game-changer!

Loaded with outdoor routes that are pre-programmed and customizable, running apps handle the hard work for you. All you have to do is wake up, get dressed, fuel your body, and conquer your morning miles. 

Run With A Friend

Whether it’s your bestie or a friend group, running with other people promotes safety and accountability. When you make plans to train with someone else, ditching last minute has much greater consequences. 

You’re not just accountable to yourself anymore, you’re also obligated to someone else. You immensely value each other's respect, so you show up for them and they show up for you. This keeps you humble, hard-working, and more likely to accomplish your running goals.

Persevere Through The Initial Discomfort

The warmup is always the hardest part. It temporarily shocks your legs, lungs, and heart, but this feeling passes. Ask any experienced athlete and they’ll passionately say that the longer you go, the easier it gets. 

The same goes for waking up at five. It hurts for a little while, but your body adapts over time. Running coach Michele Gonzalez claims, “You just have to set the alarm early and start doing it. After a few days, you’ll be tired earlier at night and will start going to bed earlier.”

With time and persistence, the early wake-up call becomes more manageable. 

Be Patient With Yourself

Success doesn’t happen overnight. Psychologists say it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit, sometimes longer. Tough days are inevitable. When they happen, give yourself grace and celebrate every small win that gets you closer to your end goal. 

How To Run In The Morning Without Getting Tired

What is the secret to long-distance running? How do people not pass out from pure exhaustion? 

First and foremost, you must take good care of your body and your health. By getting enough sleep, sufficiently hydrating, eating a healthy diet, taking vitamins, restricting alcohol, and consistently stretching, you don't tire out as easily at the halfway point.

Be self-driven with a go-getter mindset! Since long-distance running is mentally challenging, focusing on your why helps you overcome the temptation to give up. 

Constantly remind yourself that the struggle isn’t going to last forever. There’s a worthwhile reward waiting for you on the other side. Discomfort is bound to happen. If you let that sensation be your stopping point, you never progress any further!

Alternate between walking, jogging, and running and gradually increase your speed. The good news is that you don’t have to sprint. Running at a conversational pace is recommended, which means that you can speak and run without getting winded. 

When exhaustion threatens to overtake you, avoid coming to a full halt. Simply power-walk until you feel comfortable jogging again. Once you’re in the home stretch, progressively slow down to sustain the energy you need to make it to your front door.

Practicing good posture while you run cannot be stressed enough. Relax your shoulders and back, remain upright, squeeze your core, and align your head with your shoulders and hips. Evaluate your form at every mile marker to prevent accidental slouching and tension buildup in your neck.

It’s tempting to pant through your mouth when you’re pressed for air — who hasn’t been there? However, learning how to control your breathing is essential. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth until the process becomes second nature.

Wear proper running shoes and jog on shock-absorbing surfaces. Running on concrete is the worst because you’re guaranteed to get shin splints. Grass or dirt trails are best. Your heels, shins, and calves will thank you!

Resist overtraining by resting one to two days per week. Recovery is crucial. What you do after your run is just as important as the actual run itself. 

Try not to take on more miles than you can handle. Instead, increase your mileage weekly by 10 percent. If you start with five miles, then run five and a half miles the following week! This method is safest for achieving longer distances.

Afraid of getting bored or burned out? Switch up your running route often! This constantly gives you new land to cover, which keeps the run fresh and exciting. Your mind stays alert because the course is unfamiliar and the scenery surrounding you is breathtakingly beautiful. Distraction and mind games are two of the biggest secrets to long-distance running.

Rise and Run!

The sky is asleep, but you’re wide awake. Sweat dances down your back while your feet lift and land in perfect cadence. You smile as you realize that your body is capable of a strength you never imagined.

Although they seem a little daunting at first, morning marathons are well within your reach. All you need is a clear goal along with discipline, commitment, accountability, and belief in yourself to make it happen. 

Go get 'em, tiger!

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