How I Turned Myself Into an Early Morning Runner
Editor’s Note: This post is written by guest contributor, Christine Skopec, and has been edited for length and clarity.
Morning people, the kind who spring out of bed eager to get going each and every day, might not truly exist. Movies and books might feature these folks, but that’s not the way it works for most of the people I know. Instead, they sigh as they begrudgingly come out from underneath the covers. I know this because it’s how I usually feel when I wake just before 5 a.m. to complete my morning workout.
While I might not call myself a morning person, I absolutely qualify as an early riser. I’m glad I do it, too. I have way more energy when I run or hit the gym before work, I don’t have to worry about unexpected traffic slowing me down on my evening commute, and I can relax when I get home.
Figuring out how to make morning workouts successful definitely involved a learning curve (for me, eating first is a serious don’t). Things go a lot smoother these days thanks to what I’ve learned over the years.
How I Turned Myself into an Early Morning Runner
Here are a few ways to make morning running more manageable.
1. Check the weather forecast and lay out your clothes
If you’re anything like me, it takes you much longer to make decisions when you’re half asleep. Laying out your clothes the night before a run is an easy way to speed things along. It might take you around two minutes, which is an improvement from the 20 it would take right after waking up. And don’t forget to leave those shoelaces untied!
A key part of making this work is checking the weather forecast ahead of time. We all know the predictions don’t always align with reality, but you want to have a pretty good idea of what’s coming to make sure your clothing choices are appropriate.
Cluing yourself into the weather is also going to let you know if the following morning might present issues that could call for an alternative form of exercise. It’s better to know about tomorrow’s freezing rain before it’s actually tomorrow.
2. Allow yourself whatever additional time you need
You might need to down a cup of coffee before you’re alert enough to hit the pavement. Or maybe you feel faint without eating a a pre-run banana. Don’t force yourself to make too many sacrifices in an effort to zip out the door.
I wash my face, pop in my contacts, and brush my teeth before every run. It means getting up a tad earlier, but adjusting my bedtime works so much better than trying to rush through the motions in the a.m. Besides, getting enough sleep is ultimately going to help you become a stronger runner.
On the flip side, there’s no need to add a bunch of extra steps just to make extra sure you’re awake. If you’ve never tried a 15-minute yoga warm-up before, now is probably not the time to test it out.
3. Lower your expectations, even if just a little
Some days, no matter how much you rested, you’re just going to feel tired. You might not notice any difference in your performance for easy runs, but structured workouts can be a different story. Instead of beating yourself up if you aren’t hitting pace, pay attention to your effort. Some coaches even recommend implementing this strategy all the time.
It’s also a good idea to remember that lowering your expectations doesn’t mean you’re doomed to terrible speed workouts from now on. You might surprise yourself.
4. Plan all your workouts for the week
The idea here is similar to picking out your clothes ahead of time. If you know what workout you’re going to be doing before you even wake up, you have one less decision to make before heading out the door. It’s especially helpful for any type of hard effort.
Though this might be one step too far for some folks, I actually like to plan my routes as well. But I have to confess that I sometimes end up running a different one before I even realize where my feet have carried me. I never said I was a perfect morning runner.
About the Author
Christine started racing in fun runs as a kid, and never really stopped. These days you can find her hitting the pavement all across the Twin Cities to train for a 5k, marathon, or whatever else she has planned. She also loves reading, writing, cooking, and meeting fellow running nerds.