There are two types of runners in the world – those that love early morning runs, and those who can’t stand them. Many of the latter group are either too busy in the mornings, or just simply don’t enjoy getting up early enough to get their whole run regimen done before starting their work days.
However, there are many benefits to getting up with (or before) the sun and getting your run done and over with, and I’m not just talking about having the evening free of running, although that is obviously a bonus too.
10 Benefits of Running in the Morning
If you are looking for a simple yet effective way to improve your physical and mental health. Look no further than running in the morning! Not only is it an excellent cardiovascular exercise that can help you burn calories and tone your muscles, but it also offers a wide range of benefits for your overall well-being.
From boosting your energy levels to reducing stress and anxiety, you’ll discover why running in the morning is a simple habit that can make a significant difference in your life.
In this blog post, we will explore ten compelling reasons why running in the morning can be a game-changer for your health and fitness journey.
Easier to Run at the Same Time Everyday
One of the most important aspects of being a successful runner is having a routine that you stick to, regardless of what else is going on. Between work, family, and everything else going on in life, the afternoons and evenings can quickly become filled with other tasks that need to be taken care of before a run. Before you know it, the evening is gone and you are starting to get ready for bed.
By starting a routine of running early in the morning, there isn’t much that can come up and stop you from lacing up your shoes. Everyone in the house is still sleeping, work is most likely a few hours away, and if anyone else is awake and texting you in the early AM, it is probably a running buddy.
Taking advantage of this time when most of the world is still asleep is a great habit to get into.
More Free Time in the Evenings
Getting up early in the morning and getting your run done and out of the way means more time to relax after work, instead of trying to fit one more activity into your evenings. This can really cut down on the stress of trying to fit a training schedule into your busy life.
Emptier Gyms, Tracks, and Trails
Another benefit of being up early for a run is that it is usually the quietest time of day at the gym, and on running tracks and trails. If you are a gym user, this means no crowds, no waiting for equipment, and no cutting a run short because others are looking to use a treadmill.
If you run on a track or trails, they are usually almost empty early in the morning, aside from a few other morning runners. If you are doing track workouts, this is ideal because there won’t be other runners and walkers to avoid while trying to concentrate on your workout.
If you head out on the trails first thing in the morning, not only are you often totally alone with nature but seeing the sunrise as you are out on a quiet, empty trail is truly something that needs to be experienced at least once.
Cooler Temperatures in the Summer
The weather in the morning is generally cooler, making it a great time to get out for a run. This is especially true in the summer months, when you may have to wait until quite late in the evening for the temperature to go back down.
Performance suffers in the heat, so avoiding the worst of it is a great way to get the most from your training.
Running in the morning won’t necessarily help you sleep better than running in the evening, but there are several reasons that it can help you sleep better.
First, if you are getting up a few hours earlier than normal to get your run in, you will be tired earlier in the evening. This likely means you’ll begin to go to bed a bit earlier, which can help you achieve the 6-8 hours of sleep needed for recovery each night.
Secondly, if you run late at night, you’ll tend to stay up later and have poorer quality sleep. Even though your plan may be to finish at 11 pm, shower, and be in bed by 11:30, it can often take a lot longer than that to relax after finishing a run, causing you to stay up later than you’d intended.
Runners that run in the morning get the added benefit of getting their “runner’s high” early in the day, which can often lead to a good mood and positive energy throughout the entire day. This is caused by the release of chemicals called endocannabinoids that move through the blood-brain barrier to act as mood boosters.
Decreased stress levels
Running is known to relieve stress, so starting your day off with an early morning run is a great way to shed some of the stress from your life before getting your day started. This is great for your mental health and can help you feel relaxed and more focused throughout the entire day.
Chronic levels of stress can lead to anxiety or depression, so starting your day off with some moderate cardio is a great way to lower the risk of developing either of these conditions.
If you feel like you lack energy at the start of the day, a morning run is a great way to give your energy levels a quick boost. It doesn’t need to be a long or hard run, as just 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is often enough to enhance your energy.
Some studies have suggested that outdoor exercise will give you even more of a boost. Obviously, this may not be possible for everyone, as many parents have to run on a treadmill at home in the early morning because they have young children they can’t leave unsupervised.
Some exercise is better than none, so even if you can’t get outside in the mornings, you can still take advantage of the energy boost from an AM run.
There are other benefits to getting improved sleep and less stress, too. One of them is being more productive at work or around the house. Research has shown that aerobic exercises like running increase global cognitive function, executive function, and visuospatial function, as well as decreasing reaction time. All of these can lead be better work performance than on days without aerobic exercise in the morning.
Better Food Choices
Once you’ve finished a morning run, you are much more likely to want to eat a nutritious breakfast to help refuel your body. Most runners won’t come back from a run and then eat a donut for breakfast (although some of us do!) which can help a lot of people cut out sugary cereals and other unhealthy breakfast foods that have become the norm.
Tips for Morning Runs
- Lay your clothes out the night before. Having to search for everything you need in the morning can seem like a tall task, and it is often enough that our brains convince us to go back to bed instead.
- Have your route planned the night before
- Move your alarm out of arm’s reach, so that when it goes off you physically have to get out of bed to shut it off.
- Tell someone about your plan. It will not only help keep you accountable but is also helpful in the event of an emergency.
- Commit to getting out the door, even if it is just around the block. On days you don’t feel like running, forcing yourself out the door for a lap around the block can often turn into a much longer run once you’re warmed up and feeling better.
Also Read: Why Do Runners Wear Arm Sleeves?
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I eat before running in the morning?
Depending on the workout you are planning, a pre-run snack or meal may or may not be necessary. If you are going out for a short, slow run, it is often okay to head out fasted for your run. Working out on an empty stomach will force your body to burn fat for fuel, instead of carbohydrates.
If you are planning on doing any speed work, or a long run of any kind, your body will likely need some carbohydrates and protein before you head out. Something simple like a bagel with peanut butter is all you need to fuel an early morning workout.
Should I skip my coffee before an early morning run?
Even though caffeine is a diuretic, it has also been linked to improved endurance when consumed shortly before a run. Most researchers believe the fluid in caffeinated drinks is enough to offset the diuretic effect, so feel free to enjoy that cup of coffee or tea before heading out the door.
Normal levels of caffeine are fine, but if you are ingesting large amounts at once, such as caffeine pills or energy drinks, this will increase the amount of urine your body creates, so a high dose of caffeine should be avoided before exercise.
Can I do speed workouts early in the morning, or should I stick to low-intensity exercise?
While there are some runners out there who do all their speedwork in the early mornings, most do prefer to save speedwork for later in the day when they are more awake and active. Often, runners that do speedwork in the morning find that their first few intervals are significantly slower, but they do speed up as they go.
If you are looking to get the absolute most bang for your buck with speed work, it is probably best when done later in the day.
I’ve tried running in the morning but don’t enjoy it. Is that normal?
Not everyone is a morning person, and runners are no exception. If you feel like morning runs are taking the benefit out of your runs, or if the timing just messes up your whole day, that is okay too! Not everyone gets the same enjoyment of being out running while everyone else is still sleeping.
Morning running can take some getting used to, but once you are in a routine it almost becomes second nature. Runners who exercise before starting their day say their daily routine is completely thrown off without it. So get your outfit laid out, set an early alarm (or three!), and get out there for a few early morning runs. You may just fall in love with it after all.
I’m Ramona, a specialist in Crossfit and functional training. I am passionate about helping people reach their fitness goals, and I have been actively involved in the CrossFit community for over eight years. I’ve trained with some of the best coaches in the world, traveled to many different countries to learn from different experts, and completed numerous certification courses. Regardless of your fitness goals, I am committed to helping you achieve them through comprehensive, challenging, and effective workouts tailored to your lifestyle.