Each morning, I have the best intentions of waking early, not hitting the snooze button and going for a run. But somehow, I find myself making excuses and rolling over for more shut-eye.
I enviously hit the like button on social posts of runners who've risen early and completed their 10 kilometres before I've finished my breakfast. While there have been times when I've fleeted with early morning runs, I struggle to make it a permanent feature of my training.
If, like me, you need some encouragement to admit the benefits of an early morning run, read on.
Benefits of running early
Firstly, running helps boost your metabolic rate at the start of the day, before you've eaten, and can help to regulate your appetite.
It can also improve the regularity of your training program – so long as you maintain that discipline of not hitting snooze – because you'll be less likely to miss a morning run due to unforeseen interruptions.
And finally, it can be a real mood booster, leaving you energised for the rest of the day. Running early allows you to accomplish something before most people have woken up. No matter what happens for the rest of the day, the satisfaction of having exercised can last for hours.
Piqued your interest? Then follow these seven tips to transition to early morning running.
1. Find purpose
It's not enough to want to become an early morning runner. There needs to be a reason. Maybe it's because you have a gruelling marathon training plan that necessitates squeezing in runs before work or family commitments. Or perhaps it's because you know your day can get out of control and your planned run may get sidelined.
Running coach and healthy lifestyle ambassador Chris Wright loves taking Melbourne runners on early morning jaunts. He says early morning runs are more than convenience.
"Besides being able to train before my family even know about it, I love seeing the morning sunrises and breathing in the cool morning air," says Wright. He adds that the lack of intense heat and UV in the morning can also help with running performance.
2. Set a regular alarm
Transitioning from a night owl to an early bird won't happen overnight. It requires consistent behaviours. By setting your alarm for the same time each morning, your body clock will gradually get used to the adjustment. Try waking at the same time each morning, regardless of whether you go for a run or not. And avoid hitting the snooze button!
3. Plan your run
Wright says runners should follow a training plan and know how far and where they will run, as well as how long it should take. "This pre-planning reduces the need for early morning decision-making and allows you to be more focused. It also helps you to ignore the 101 excuses that will pop into your psyche at ridiculous o'clock," he says.
4. Go to bed early
Runners who make small adjustments to their sleep schedule, and work towards becoming a morning person – rather than making the switch overnight – are more likely to succeed. Wright says it's important to go to bed early.
"If you're up until midnight on your phone or computer then rising early the following morning will be a real drag," he says. Go to bed at a reasonable time so you can get plenty of sleep and allow your body to rest and recover from running."
5. Join a morning run group
I've covered the benefits of joining a running group before, but it can also help you commit to early morning running. "Running with friends or in a group, will help you overcome excuses and get you out the door," says Wright.
6. Get organised
Being organised after your run will help to make it more of a permanent fixture of your day. The night before do the chores that you'd do the next morning so that it doesn't stress you out after your run. For example, pack your lunch, get the kids' school gear ready, empty the dishwasher and have a quick pre-run breakfast like cereal or a banana smoothie ready to go.
7. Lay out your running gear the night before
Check the weather and plan what you will wear, then lay it out with other running gadgets such as your smartwatch, head lamp and reflective gear. If your running clothes are ready and waiting for you when you roll out of bed, you'll be less likely to opt out.
The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.
Follow Laura Hill
Made the switch from evening to morning run? Share your tips and experience in the comments section below.