Many of us envy those early morning runners. As we wrap up the work day and begrudgingly lace up our running shoes, we find ourselves wishing we could get motivated to complete our run before the day even starts. However, the key to becoming a morning runner is actually quite simple.
Establish a morning run routine.
No matter how much we wish it would happen, or how many times we give it a try on a whim, running in the morning will never become a habit unless we put some effort into creating a routine.
Without even realizing it, your morning run routine (or lack thereof) could be holding you back from getting the most out of early morning running.
What we do before, during and after a run matters a great deal – especially when running is the first thing we do in the morning. Establishing an efficient morning run routine will help minimize the time it takes to get out the door and help you wake up early with ease.
How to Start a Morning Running Routine
Many runners believe that they would enjoy the satisfaction of completing their run before the day even begins, yet so few actually make it a habit. Giving morning running a try for a day or two will likely never become a habit unless you really put some thought into your routine.
Those first few morning runs might feel like a drag. Your body will probably not be used to getting out of bed before the sun – let alone completing physical exercise right away.
Related: What Happened When I Worked Out at 5 am Every Morning
Creating a morning running routine requires patience, consistency and careful planning. Taking the time to prepare before a morning run means starting the night before to ensure you are ready to go from the moment your alarm goes off.
Creating a morning run routine requires preparation.
Head to bed earlier than usual, sleep in your running clothes, lay out all the gear you will need and prep any breakfast or snacks you’ll need before you head out the door. Try putting your alarm on the other side of the room and challenging yourself not to hit snooze.
Remember that establishing any habit takes time, and creating a morning run routine is no different. If you’re hoping to become a morning runner but are struggling to get out of bed – commit to it. Decide that you will run in the morning for a certain amount of days, and stay consistent.
Taking the time to plan your routine ahead of time will help your mornings flow with ease so you can get out the door before you even have time to second guess yourself.
The Perfect Morning Run Routine
Running in the morning requires advance planning – which means starting your morning run routine the evening before. Creating a successful routine might feel a bit overwhelming the first few days, but it won’t take long for these actions to become a habit.
Try this morning run routine to make things run smoothly before, during and after each run!
The Evening Before
Drink an extra 16 ounces of water.
Most of us wake up in a state of dehydration after sleeping, which can be a bit problematic if you plan to get up and head out the door.
Be sure to drink some extra water after dinner the evening before a morning run. Fill a water bottle and keep it by your side as you relax and wind down for the night.
Get out all the gear you will need for your run.
The key to a successful morning run is planning and preparing – which means thinking through everything you will need on the run and making sure it’s all out and ready to go.
Charge your watch, headphones, phone and any other electronics you will need. Don’t forget about any fuel, water, running belt, water bottle, sun glasses, and any accessories you’ll be taking with you.
Prep any breakfast or snacks.
If you’d like to reduce how early you’ll need to get up before your run in the morning, then prepping breakfast is key.
For shorter runs, a small snack might be all you’ll need to keep hunger at bay during your morning run. If you need more, try prepping some overnight oats or another basic breakfast for the entire week. Something simple such as bagels, toast or bananas might be easy to have on hand and ready to go.
Say goodbye to screens 30 minutes before bed.
Waking up earlier means you’ll have to head to bed earlier as well. However, if you’re suddenly moving your bed time forward, it might be hard to wind down and relax those first few nights.
Make a point to put the screens away and start getting ready for bed 30 minutes before you’d like to be asleep. Try putting a lock on your phone, setting it in another room, or creating new habits without the tv that your entire family can participate in.
Head to bed early to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
Think about when your alarm will be going off in the morning and try to be in bed at least 7-8 hours beforehand.
Sticking with a long term morning run routine means that getting up and staying up in the morning can’t feel miserable. While it might be hard to hit the hay earlier than you’re used to, remind yourself that it will be worth it in the morning.
Sleep in your running clothes.
Creating a morning run routine will help things run smoothly and efficiently, even when you’re still struggling to wake up.
Try sleeping in as many of your running clothes as feels comfortable. Throw on your shorts or leggings the night before so all you have to do is add socks and change your shirt in the morning. Even this small step can make a huge difference when you’re up before the sun.
Before Your Morning Run
Don’t hit snooze.
Just don’t do it. We all face the temptation when that alarm blasts and we’re dead asleep, but remind yourself that those extra 8 minutes aren’t going to do anything but tempt you to add another eight.
Commit to not hitting snooze. When your alarm goes off, sit up in bed. Get up before you even have a chance to second guess yourself.
Change into any remaining running clothes.
Grab the running clothes that you didn’t sleep in and change into them right away. Being fully dressed for a run before you even leave the bedroom will help you reduce any excuses you may face to skip your run.
Drink 8-16 ounces of water at least 30 minutes beforehand.
Once you’re dressed and out of the bedroom, grab a glass of water to help rehydrate after sleeping.
Aim for 8-16 ounces of water, and consume it at least 30 minutes before leaving for your run. Listen to your body and adjust the amount of water based on what you can handle, the weather and the amount of thirst you feel during and after a run.
Fuel up with a snack or light breakfast at least 30 minutes beforehand.
For short, easy runs, you’ll likely only need a small snack (such as a banana beforehand). For longer, harder runs, consume a simple breakfast before heading out.
Foods such as bagels, oatmeal and toast are quick and easy to digest so they won’t cause any issues on the run. Try to finish eating at least 30 minutes before starting your run to allow your body some time to digest to avoid and gastrointestinal issues on the run.
Complete a quick dynamic warm up.
A key component of any pre-run routine, especially a morning run routine, is the dynamic warm up. This warm up is even more important when you’ll be running first thing in the morning.
You’ll likely notice that your muscles are extra stiff in the morning before you’ve had a chance to get moving. Take 5-15 minutes to complete some dynamic warm up exercises and simple stretches as a part of your morning run routine.
Make a bathroom stop before heading out.
It probably goes without saying, but make sure to hit the bathroom at least once after waking up before heading out to run.
Turn on your favorite music or podcast.
Give yourself something to look forward to first thing in the morning by listening to a favorite playlist or podcast. There is nothing quite like starting your day off with some inspiration and positive vibes.
After Your Morning Run
Rehydrate with 8-16 ounces of water.
Once you return from your run, it’s time to rehydrate and replace the liquids you’ve lost in sweat. Even in cooler temperatures, our bodies require water to replenish what was lost on the run.
Make it a habit to fill a glass of water as soon as you walk in the door. You’ll be able to sip on this water throughout the rest of your morning to ensure you stay hydrated after a run.
Enjoy a delicious smoothie or post-run snack.
Treat yourself to a refreshing smoothie or one of your favorite morning snacks to refuel after your run.
Protein smoothies, chocolate milk, oatmeal with fruit or toast with peanut butter are all great options for a combination of sugar and protein to help your muscles refuel.
Complete some post-run stretches.
Another key element to any morning run routine is stretching after the run is over. Plan to spend 5-15 minutes stretching out your muscles after a run.
Not only will this help signal to your brain that the physical activity is over, but it will help avoid delayed onset muscle soreness, promote the removal of lactic acid and prevent you from feeling stiff for the rest of the day.
Related: The Perfect Post-Run Routine
Log your thoughts and miles in a training journal.
Taking the time to write down your thoughts in a training journal might seem like a waste of time if you’re rushing to get out of the door, but it can be very helpful in the future.
Recording how you feel during each run can also help you evaluate whether or not you need to make any adjustments to your morning run routine in the future.
Fit in a quick shower before starting the day.
Last, but certainly not least, it’s time to get ready for the day. Shower off and spend the time congratulating yourself on fitting in more activity before the sun rises than most others will do all day.
As you get used to running in the morning, you’ll be able to fine tune your routine. Evaluate how each element of your morning run routine adds to or takes away from your flow throughout the process. Experiment with a different order of events, and be on the look out for any activities that could be competed ahead of time to expedite the process.
Creating an efficient morning run routine takes time and patience, but can really make or break your experience with running in the morning.
Remember that no matter how much you plan, you’ll likely encounter a few obstacles along the way. When things feel really difficult (such as the moment your alarm goes off) remind yourself of your end goals and that this feeling is temporary.