Running early in the morning is not only satisfying, it’s also very rewarding. Besides feeling energized and confident, exercise can impact your mental power and creativity all day long. Morning exercise means that any last-minute social engagements or business meetings won’t get in the way with your quest to stay healthy and fit. Plus, overcoming the predictable early morning roadblocks like lack of sleep and low energy, will only help your effort to create healthy exercise habits.
Follow these tips to maximize your morning run to reap the most benefits and feel energized:
1. Power down early— According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to stay healthy, fit and energized. If you find yourself staying up late to catch up on the latest headlines or to play Words with Friends, it’s time to start powering down the gadgets to hit the hay earlier and get a restful night’s sleep. More sleep means better performance and mental clarity throughout the day and will help you get out of bed in the morning too.
2. Hydrate– Your body needs approximately 16 ounces of water in the morning, which you’ll need to fuel your run so set a glass of water by your bed to remind yourself to drink up before you hit the pavement. You may also consider drinking a glass of water before bed too to aid the replenishing of fluid loss from your day, which will jumpstart your morning hydration too.
3. Layout your clothes– Don’t wait to round up your running clothes and gear until morning. Having it all ready to go in the morning makes it easier to get out of bed and dressed for a run before work. Whether your running gear is waiting for you in the bathroom or next to the front door, pick a spot you wont avoid. Sleeping in your running clothes sounds silly but it may provide that extra motivation to get up and go when the alarm buzzes!
4. Map out your route– Whether training for a race or simply enjoying the morning air, map out a route to ensure you’re putting in the time and mileage desired. If your regular running route starts feeling stale, switch it up with a trail or a different route altogether. Use GoogleMaps to determine a new route that meets your distance or timing needs, or check Strava’s Segment Explore feature to find challenging new segments to run based on other user’s feedback.
5. Pick a run buddy– Getting out for a run before the sun has risen is a lot easier and more fun when you have someone there with you. Even your dog can be the perfect running companion. However, if you don’t have any early risers or runners in your circle of friends, consider joining a local running group to get you motivated. Sites like ExerciseFriends.com can be helpful too as they connect community members who share similar activity interests which makes finding a running buddy a lot easier. Contact your local running store for information on other local resources.
6. Track it– You will find motivation to keep running by looking back on all the hard work you’ve done, and the time and distance you’ve put into get to where you are today. But, who has time to write all that stuff down? Apps like Fitdigits’s iRunner measure and report your effort, route, distance, pace, time, caloric burn and heart rate in real time to keep you motivated and help you analyze your progress over time. Your running stats automagically sync with a personalized profile at My.Fitdigits.com where it’s easy to compare, review, analyze and share each run and set new goals based on your progress.
7. Grab a small bite– Eating before a morning run comes down to personal preference but it also may depend on the type of run you are doing. According to Running Times Magazine, a run duration of 60 minutes or less may not require any fuel other than H2O. However, those taking on long runs or speed drills should consider waking up earlier to fuel their workout with a 300 to 500 calorie breakfast needed for the glycogen tougher runs demand. Don’t forget a small post-run recovery meal like oatmeal, banana with peanut butter and other such power foods to help restore muscles.
8. Wear the right gear– Some mornings may be chillier than others and your running gear will greatly impact how you feel and your overall performance. Consider loose shorts and sweat-wicking material on warm mornings, plus a pair of sunglasses to prevent the rising sun from blinding you. On colder mornings, you want to keep your body warm but avoid overheating by overdressing. Invest in a zip up and use layers to help regulate your body temperature. A running beanie is also a great option for some extra protection and comes with integrated speakers.
9. Talk yourself into it– Some days are harder than others to get out the door, especially on those cold, dark mornings. Talk yourself into getting out for a short one mile run even if it’s a slow pace. By the time you’ve got out the door and have gone that far, chances are you’ll keep going and feel more energized to push forward.
10. Reward yourself– Set weekly morning run goals and rewards to stay motivated. Rewards can be as simple as a latte from your favorite coffee shop or a new pair of running sneakers for reaching a certain weekly mileage goal.