Since I got injured back last summer, I’ve made a lot of little tweaks in my running regimen. I’ve tried different shoes, different kinds of workouts, I’ve been mixing up my cross training, and I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of different fueling methods. But perhaps the biggest change I’ve made in the last few months is what time of day I squeeze my run in. I used to be an evening runner, without question. The only time I ever ran in the morning would be my long runs on Saturdays. Maybe once a month or so I’d find the motivation and energy to get up and run before work, but it was a rarity. Now, it’s my norm.
So what spurred the change? I’m ashamed to say it was largely FOMO (fear of missing out). I missed way too many impromptu hang out sessions with my friends so I could get a run in in the evenings. So that’s what got me started. But as I made the change I realized there are a bunch of other perks to running in the morning. Here are a few of my top ones:
1) It really does wake you up. Yes, it is incredibly painful to get out of bed at 5:30am when the world is dark and still asleep, but it only hurts for those first 15 minutes. Once you’re out the door, the pain starts to dissipate and by the time you get back you’re more than ready to take the day on.
2) It not only wakes you up, but it makes you feel 100x more motivated for the rest of the day. You’ve already accomplished this huge thing before you’ve even showered! The rest of the day will be easy peasy. The sense of achievement a morning run can give you is through the roof.
3) If you live in a city, there is significantly less traffic out at 5:30am than 5:30pm. That means less stopping at lights, less likely to get clipped by a reckless driver (a real concern in Massachusetts), and an all around better run.
4) Cake and cheese! Seriously. My office seems to throw a party for every and any reason and there’s a surprisingly amount of cake and cheese floating around the office on any given afternoon. I used to pass on such treats because I was concerned about how my stomach would revolt on my run, but now that I run in the morning, I eat all the afternoon cake I want!
5) Eating dinner before 8pm. Seriously, this used to be a huge problem for me. I’d run after work, commute home, shower, start cooking, and S and I wouldn’t sit down to dinner until 8 or 8:30. And by the time that happened I was so hangry that I was intolerable to be around. It completely ruined my evenings and I didn’t even realize it until I changed it.
6) Showering only once a day. It’s that time of year for most of us when our skin starts to get really dry. Keeping the long hot showers to a minimum (which for me, is once a day) will keep us from scratching our itchy skin right off.
So, now that you know the perks of morning running, (mostly you get all the chocolate milk and cake you want) here are some hacks to get you started:
- Lay out your stuff the night before. And not just your clothes. Everything. Down to your contacts and your bobby pins. That way you can walk around like a zombie and still manage to get your clothes on and out the door in as little time as possible.
- Never hit snooze. Ever. Just get up the first time your alarm goes off. If you hit snooze once, you could slide down the slippery slope and never get up.
- Keep it short at first. Start with 3 or 4 miles, so you don’t have to get up that much earlier than normal. Then build your way up to 5 or 6. I still haven’t tried more than 6 on a workday, so we’ll see how that goes when the time comes.
- Go to bed earlier. But you’re a night owl! I get it, you can’t go to bed before 1am. That’s fine, so stay up that late and then wake up at 5:30 anyway. You’re going to be really tired all day, so tired in fact, that you’ll probably go to bed earlier the next night. And the next. And the next. Your body will adapt, humans are funny that way.
I fully recognize that morning running isn’t for everyone. And for every perk I have for running in the morning, I’m sure there’s another one you can argue for running in the evening. It is completely a matter of preference. BUT if you want to change your running schedule, know that it’s totally possible, even if it’s not totally easy.
Admittedly, it took me months to adapt. And even when my routine was established, my body resisted for a little while longer. My paces weren’t quite as good in the morning as they were in the evening until literally a week or two ago. And full disclosure: I still don’t attempt to do my speed work in the morning. That will likely remain an evening activity for quite a while longer. But for those easy runs when you just need to get the miles in, I recommend giving the morning a try. Then you can treat yourself to cake later in the day!