Starting a running habit can indeed change your life.
Moreover, it can help you stabilize physically, mentally, and emotionally through tough moments, and we’ve all experienced those during the recent pandemic.
But why do it early in the morning? Well, there are many reasons to build this consistent morning exercise routine.
The benefits of running in the morning are both physical and mental. Starting the day with an early morning run can set the tone for the day and improve your productivity. Regular cardiovascular exercise can also reduce stress, lose weight and improve your mood.
I am one of those lucky people who struggled with running initially but eventually found a routine that worked for me.
Luckily I am a morning person who usually never had any difficulty falling asleep before early morning running!
Read on, because we’ll go deep into the (tested and true) benefits of running in the morning. Are you ready to change your life and feel better than you ever did before?
What are the physical benefits of a morning run?
First off, we have to talk about the physical benefits of running in the morning. Again, those of us who managed to succeed at sticking to this habit of morning workouts can tell you that there is no higher high than the runner’s high.
Getting this high first thing in the morning can be tricky if you have a busy life or young kids as I do. But it’s worth getting up early (yes, even earlier than the kids!) to do your morning exercise.
- Set the tone for the day and improve productivity
When the first thing you do in the morning goes for a run, you allow your body to generate endorphins and adrenaline.
These stay in your bloodstream for hours, making all tasks you face easier and more pleasant after running in the morning. This might help you improve your daily productivity with a smile.
- Enhance your heart health and live longer
According to recent studies carried out on 232,149 people through 35 years, the risks of dying from all causes for both sexes drop by 27% with any amount of running.
Furthermore, researchers also found that the risk of death by cardiovascular diseases and cancer dropped by 30% and 23%, respectively.
High blood pressure is not good! Running can help lower your blood pressure as well.
So, fit a morning jog in your schedule before kids wake up and live a longer, healthier life. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?!
- Better sleep
Another great benefit of running in the morning is that you will have to wake up earlier than usual.
This, as a study from 2012 and another from 2014 indicate, will adjust your circadian rhythm and you will have a better level of sleep quality.
Better sleep quality at night will help you cope with everything life demands. Plus, you’ll have more patience and time to play with your kids.
Getting regular aerobic exercise can improve sleep quality. Who doesn’t want more deep sleep to help wake up feeling fresh?
- Enjoy the best running weather
Depending on where you live in the world, some mornings are dark and others are light, particularly in the summer months. During the Summer, you’ll be able to enjoy the best weather for running, particularly if the climate is very warm during the day.
There is still much to be said for running before the sun comes up (like in Winter months). Often this is the quietest time of the day, and Winter sunrises can also be spectacular!
- Appreciate nature at its best
Finally, another amazing benefit is that fewer people are awake when you are running. Thus, you can experience nature at its best with no horns, car sounds, or any other disturbances.
It’s great to be able to share this with other morning runners.
What are the mental health benefits of a morning run?
Running in the morning doesn’t only benefit your body, it also benefits your mind and mental focus.
Although we tend to view them as separate entities, they have a cascading effect on each other. So, here are the mental health benefits of running in the morning.
- Reduce stress
According to a recent study by the University of Maryland, running for 30 minutes can help alleviate stress.
In the study, runners were shown stressful pictures and compared to another control group that instead of running, sat quietly for thirty minutes. Results showed that those who exercised presented lower stress levels than those who didn’t.
If you run in the morning, you might just alleviate all the stress piled up from the day before, your job, kids, chores, and such, and start the day with a fresh mind and a ton of energy.
I can wholly testify this to be true and find my morning run clears my mind ready for the day.
- Improve your mood
We were talking above about what we call the “runner’s high” which is the reward our body gives us for the exercise in the shape of endorphins.
Well, these are set loose in our blood and their effect lasts for a few hours during which you’ll have an increased sense of emotional strength to cope with regular life situations.
- Improve your sense of self-worth & self-esteem
The feeling of an accomplished task gives us a better grasp of who we are. Moreover, a steady routine can be felt like a success, and when the early running habit truly kicks in, you’ll feel empowered by it.
Tips for running in the morning
Tip 1: Prepare the Night Before
Morning runs require some preparation the night before to make sure you are ready to go when you wake up. Here are some tips:
- Lay out your running clothes
- Charge your devices
- Prepare your breakfast
- Set your alarm
- Check the weather
By preparing the night before, you can eliminate some of the stress and uncertainty of a morning run. This will help you start your day on a positive note and set you up for success.
Tip 2: Start Slowly
One of the biggest mistakes that new runners make is trying to do too much too soon. If you’re starting out, it’s important to start slowly and gradually build up your endurance.
This will help you avoid injury and burnout, and make morning runs more enjoyable in the long run.
Remember, the key to successful running is consistency. Even if you cannot run very far or fast at first, sticking with it and gradually building up your endurance over time will help you achieve your running goals.
Tip 3: Hydrate Before and After
Staying hydrated is essential for early morning runs, but even more so for those who run in the morning.
When you wake up, your body is already partially dehydrated, so it’s essential to drink water before and after your run to replenish fluids lost during the night and the workout.
Tip 4: Eat a Light Breakfast
Running in the morning on an empty stomach may not be the best idea. Your body needs some fuel to power through the workout.
However, eating too much or too heavy can cause discomfort and slow you down. A light breakfast that is easy to digest is the way to go for your morning runs. Here are some ideas:
- Banana or apple with nut butter
- Yogurt with fruit and granola
- Oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit
- Smoothie with banana, berries, spinach, and protein powder
- Toast with avocado and egg
My advice is to avoid early morning runs on an empty stomach.
Tip 5: Warm Up Before Running
Warming up is an essential step for any physical activity, including running. It helps to prepare your body for the workout and reduces the risk of injury.
Here are some tips to help you warm up before your morning run:
Start with a light cardio exercise like jogging in place or jumping jacks for 5-10 minutes. This will increase your heart rate and get your blood flowing to your muscles.
Perform some dynamic stretches to activate your muscles and improve your range of motion. Examples include leg swings, high knees, and butt kicks.
Do some mobility exercises to loosen up your joints and improve your flexibility. This can include exercises like hip circles and arm circles.
It’s important to remember that your warm-up should be specific to your workout. For example, if you’re planning to run uphill, you should include some uphill walking or lunges in your warm-up routine.
Additionally, you should avoid static stretching before your run. Static stretching can actually decrease your muscle power and increase the risk of injury.
Save your static stretching for after your run when your muscles are warm and pliable.
Tip 6: Dress Appropriately
When it comes to running in the morning, dressing appropriately can make all the difference in how comfortable and successful your run will be.
Here are some tips to help you dress appropriately for your morning run:
- Wear moisture-wicking clothes to keep you dry and comfortable.
- Dress in layers so you can easily remove clothing as you warm up.
- Wear reflective gear if you’re running in low-light conditions.
- Choose lightweight and breathable fabrics to prevent overheating.
- Wear a hat or visor to protect your face and eyes from the sun.
Tip 7: Find a Running Partner
Running with a friend can make all the difference in your morning routine. Not only does it provide accountability, but it can also make the experience more enjoyable.
Having a running partner can also provide an opportunity to challenge yourself and push beyond your limits.
You can motivate each other to run faster and longer distances. If you’re struggling to find a running partner, consider joining a virtual running group or forum where you can connect with other runners online.
Tip 8: Listen to Your Body
One of the most important things you can do when running in the morning is to listen to your body.
Pay attention to how you feel during your run and adjust your pace and distance accordingly.
If you’re feeling tired or sore, slow down and take it easy. If you’re feeling good, you can push yourself a little harder.
Another way to listen to your body is to monitor your heart rate.
Your heart rate can give you a good indication of how hard you’re working and whether you need to slow down or speed up. You can use a heart rate monitor or simply take your pulse manually.
Tip 9: Set Realistic Goals
Setting realistic goals is essential for any runner, especially those who want a morning workout. It’s easy to get carried away and set lofty goals, but it’s important to be honest with yourself and set goals that are achievable.
Start by assessing your current fitness level and setting a goal that is challenging but not impossible.
For example, if you are new to running, don’t set a goal to run a marathon in a month. Instead, aim to run a 5K in a few months and gradually work your way up.
Remember, setting realistic goals doesn’t mean you can’t dream big. It just means breaking down those big dreams into smaller, achievable steps.
By setting realistic goals, you’ll be more likely to stick with your running routine and achieve long-term success.
Tip 10: Stay Consistent
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner, staying consistent is key to achieving your goals. Consistency means sticking to your running routine, even when you don’t feel like it, and making running a habit.
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss your morning exercise or have a bad day. Remember that consistency is about the big picture, not just one run.
Stay positive and motivated, and keep pushing yourself to be the best runner you can be.
Besides the obvious fitness benefits of any physical activity, runners who wake up early in the morning receive a myriad of other paybacks.
In my case, I used to struggle with mornings, kids, a bad sleeping habit, and a stressful job. I am not telling you that I solved everything since I started running in the morning, but I can tell you I feel I have more strength to cope with it all, lower blood pressure and enjoy life in a more fulfilling way.
Don’t let the world get to you, and go for a morning run to start every day with a smile. In time, you’ll find out that there was more strength in you than you ever imagined.
Live your life at its fullest, starting every day with a morning run.