8 reasons to run in the morning
I’m not a morning person, never have been.
After years of my night owl behavior in high school and college, my mom warned me that I wouldn’t be able to find a job with those hours. Little did she – or frankly I – know that for the first 14 years after graduating college I would work nights at various newspapers.
After gravitating to working a day shift like a normal person, it took me another seven or so years before I started my running journey. I would run after work during the week and add in a mid-morning run or two on the weekends. As my running got more serious, my time spent increased but my time preference did not. That it until a couple of years ago.
I don’t recall exactly when I made the switch. However, I am so glad I did. In fact, it’s now something I encourage my coaching clients to consider running in the morning when they get stuck in a rut or have trouble juggling their workouts with other life and work commitments.
If you are an evening runner and having trouble getting in all your runs or considering a change, here are eight reasons why running in the morning is better than at other times of the day.
1. You avoid the crowds. This is especially important during the pandemic but is welcome any time. I prefer to get out on the roads or trails before they become crowded so that I can enjoy the solitude and be alone with my thoughts. An added bonus, since most of my runs start in the 4:30 a.m.-5 a.m. time frame, is that traffic is minimal at best, making it much more safe than later in the day.
2. You will wake up your mind, body and spirit. I’ve found that this makes me more productive throughout the day, especially in those early morning work hours which had previously been a drag. And research backs this up. In 2015, researchers found that exercise improved sustained attention in a task that was deliberately created to be mentally fatiguing.
3. A sunrise will inspire you. As of this writing the days are getting shorter and I’m completing all my mid-week runs before sunrise. However, most of the year runners who start in the morning will have an opportunity to see amazing sunrises, which personally give me an extra boost of energy.
4. It gives you fall-back options. Sometimes the weather scuttles our plans for runs. Icy conditions, lightning and strong rain have all forced me to postpone a run at one time or another. When weather interferes with a morning run, you still have options to do it later, perhaps at lunchtime or after work. For evening runners, back-up plans are limited.
5. It’s a stress-buster. Running initiates the release of hormone endorphins, which in turn, creates the feeling of happiness and elevates your mood. What a great way to start the day!
6. A dose of self-esteem. After a good morning workout, a runner has the added benefit of increased self-esteem and self-confidence. That’s a great thing to have going for you as you navigate the workday challenges with bosses, clients and/or customers.
7. Your nights are all yours. When I was a post-work runner, I had limited time to commute home, change, have dinner, run and do whatever else before bedtime. Throw in anything unexpected – a work priority, a family commitment, etc. – and the run was often the thing to omit. With my run completed in the morning, it’s much easier to juggle priorities at the end of the day.
8. It’s easier to get to sleep. Often when I ran at night, the adrenaline would stay with me, keeping me awake. After adjusting to being a morning runner, I fall asleep much more easily and generally have a more balanced sleep pattern. (A 2012 study confirms this.) That said it does take a little adjustment waking up an hour or so earlier to get in the morning run. But after that initial adjustment period, it becomes natural.
There is no doubt that there is a transition period for switching your running times for the evening to the morning. My advice would be to try it out for a month. If after one month, you are not seeing the benefits, you can always revert back.
Feel free, as always, to reach out to me with any questions about running, training, fitness and more.