Morning running, making it a habit and why it’s great

wynnumI used to be like you, preferring to run at night in the cool air after or before a solid dinner.

I couldn’t understand people who ran in the morning. Every time I tried to run in the morning I’d run out of steam about a kilometre or two into the run and I’d fail. It was a depressing feeling giving up like this, so I avoid the AM and stayed with the PM.

But I’ve changed, man, I’m now all about the pre-work morning running routine. And by changing my habits and getting used to running in the morning has resulted in making me a better runner, and a fitter, healthier person.

Why morning running rules

It’s a bone of contention amongst the running community but here are my quick-fire reasons on why morning running works for me.

You’re less likely to wimp out.

People have to do stuff in the afternoon and evenings and sometimes these things are unplanned. Your boss might ask you to work late, some other urgent task might come up, or a friend might say ‘hey, let’s go get a drink’ after work. These are temptations that might keep you from completing your scheduled run. You’ll think ‘I’ll do it later’ or ‘I can put it off til tomorrow’ and inevitably you never catch it up.

If you smash out a run first thing in the morning, you can enjoy the rest of your day. No sane person is going to ask you out for a beer at 6AM.

Most competitive runs are held in the morning.

While I’ve competed in a few evening events, the vast majority start early. Usually it’s because of traffic restrictions or weather conditions. But it seems to me that if you’ve formed the habit of running early, your body will be more used to conditions and more likely to perform better.

It’s easier to balance calories

If you’re a compulsive calorie and exercise data hound like I am, it’s great to know how much calories you can spend before you spend them. Relying on catching up on burning calories by exercising in the evening could be a risk (see point one about wimping out). If you’ve eaten all your calories before you’ve exercised and you happen to wimp out, then you’re already behind your goals.

Alternatively, if you create a deficit first, you can keep better control of your eating habits during the rest of the day.

I try running the 5 kilometres to work every day, which burns around 500 calories, which is a nice little diet buffer zone. Then I can just stick to my eating plan and not have to worry about going over my goal limits.

It’s usually cooler

I live in Brisbane, Australia. Today it’s over 30 degrees Celsius at 4pm in the afternoon (86 degrees Fahrenheit). Tomorrow it will reach 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 F). It’s dangerous to run in these conditions and I find it harder to perform. I nearly passed out a few weeks ago after 3 kilometres in 34 degree heat, and you’ll never train right if you keep doing going at your runs that way.

Generally, it’s cooler in the early morning and that one of the most important reasons for switching to the morning if you live in a place like I do.

Disadvantages?

Well,I’ve put out four reasons why I prefer running in the morning, but I can think of two big disadvantages that are fairly self-explanatory.

Strict bed times

Getting up at 5 AM means a 9 PM bedtime assuming you’re up for 8 hours of sleep. That might be super inconvenient considering lots of cool stuff goes down post-9 PM, so I recommend planning your morning run schedule tightly around other priorities.

Alcohol

Have you ever tried doing an early morning run after a few beers the night before?

Probably the biggest issue for a young professional who enjoys a few beers while socialising. I’ve tried doing a few Parkruns after a few beers the night before pretty much ruins the running experience. Unless you’re thinking of entering the vomit-Olympics.

Easiest way is to just try avoid alcohol the night before a run. Hey, think of the calories you won’t drink and the faster you’ll run!

I’ve come to the conclusion that by running in the morning, you’re more likely to develop better running habits, and more likely to actually do you run. Of course, I have no empirical evidence to suggest this other than my own experience in transitioning to a morning running person, so you’ll have to trust me on everything I’ve said.

Tips for changing habits.

I’ve covered some of these above, but to reiterate…

Sleep

Get enough, 8 hours preferably. If you’re getting up at 5 AM, that means bedtime is 9 PM. Get in the habit and you’ll find your morning runs more enjoyable.

Lay out your gear

Lay out your gear the night before. Saves on hassle and is a visual reminder of the contract you’ve formed with yourself regarding your morning run.

Eating & drinking

This is controversial. Some people don’t like eating prior to running. I can’t actually function correctly without something in my stomach. I usually get up just before 5 AM, have a cup of tea and a small bowl of porridge, and head out the door at 5:45 AM feeling charged with delicious FOOD ENERGY. Sometimes just a banana will be fine. I usually have something small post-run like toast or something like that along with a cup of coffee (and coffee tastes so great after running).

Regardless of whether you’re in the eating/non-eating camp, a glass of water is suggested. You’ll be dehydrated from the night before and it’s good to have some water in your system.

Hopefully this gets you thinking about changing your habits. If you’re keen to try morning running, I suggest trying out a few morning runs with respect to my tips and see if it helps.

Feel free to add any further insights in the comments below.

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