This post is in partnership with Sweaty Betty.
If you have ever read a ‘day in the life’ of an ultra successful CEO, you’ll hear them getting up at 4am and running or working out with their personal trainer in their home gym, catching up on all the important Global news, meditating and having a wholesome breakfast, all it seems before their first cup of coffee.
It’s easy to think everyone needs to be doing that but the truth is that some people are morning people and some aren’t and, actually, there’s quite a lot of evidence that if you’re a night owl, there’s not a ton of point in trying to totally flip your body clock.
However, if you are a morning person (or think you have the potential to be!), then morning runs and workouts can be great. I love them because it literally doesn’t give me time to think about my run/strength session; I get up (I never ever hit snooze otherwise it’s game over), throw on my current fave Sweaty Betty leggings and tank, drink a milky coffee – and head out the door.
Nothing else can get in the way of completing my workout, not a late running meeting, or traffic, or patient caseload, or even letting bad weather psych me out.
Whilst on holiday, I also find it the least intrusive part of the day to get my workout done. It doesn’t interfere with other people’s holiday plans – especially important when you’re travelling with a non-runner. In Canada, on days when we don’t have hikes planned, I’ve set my alarm to run anywhere from 3-7 miles before meeting Tom for breakfast. Some days he has agreed to come with me (bonus for having someone to take pics of me on the run rather than awkward self-timer photos), other days he has opted for a lie in.
There’s just something really reassuring about knowing you’ve already got your run in, no matter how hectic the day gets afterwards. Plus you might find it helps you sleep better and make other healthy choices throughout the day. If you still need persuading to set your alarm a little earlier, read on to hear more about the benefits of running in the morning!
Benefits of Running In The Morning
Get it done
Trying to fit everything in is never easy and it’s so easy for things to get in the way and prevent your evening run from happening. Perhaps you end up staying late at work, or a friend suggests an impromptu catchup, or maybe you just simply can’t be bothered after a long day.
Although that early alarm doesn’t always feel great (it certainly takes some getting used to, especially in the winter), once you’ve done your run, you’ve done it. No matter how crazy the day gets, nobody can take that run away from you. For me, that’s one of the biggest benefits to running in the morning.
And once you’ve already made one healthy choice for the day, you might be more likely to stick to others, healthy eating or going to sleep earlier (more on sleep below!) for instance.
Feel good all day
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting in an early morning run and being able to feel a little smug about it all day, is there?
The post-run high will last throughout the day, likely making you feel more alert for hours after your run. It takes away the stress of thinking about going for a run later on or worrying about if you have time, energy, the right kit, right fueling etc.
And it’s not just about feeling good – there’s something really powerful about knowing you’ve already crushed your workout, that can motivate you when the day throws other hard things at you, whether that’s a tough meeting at work or a difficult conversation with a loved one. You’ve already done one hard thing, you can do another no sweat.
Although you might think that running at night would be better to help you nod off, actually the adrenaline rush of an evening session can make it difficult to fall asleep and interrupt your sleep quality. A morning run (especially if it’s something high intensity) helps you use some physical energy which can aid sleep, but the long break between your session and bedtime means you won’t be lying awake still buzzing from your session, and can improve sleep quality.
It’s worth noting that it takes time to become a morning runner, and you’ll likely need to adjust your sleep schedule to get those dawn miles in. I find the 5.30am alarm easiest when I go to bed at 9pm meaning I still get those all important 8+ hours of sleep. I wouldn’t recommend shifting your timings all at once, set that morning alarm earlier in small increments to ensure you’re still getting enough sleep!
I find it easiest to give myself about 20-30 minutes between my alarm going off, and heading out the door. I set everything up the night before, including my coffee mug and Sweaty Betty outfit (usually a pair of black leggings with a side pocket for my phone for safety – and pics) and bright tank or high vis top depending on the time of year!
Lower blood pressure
No matter what time of the day you exercise, you’ll be helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure. But this study shows that morning workouts contribute more to keeping your blood pressure down. To see benefits, try to create a habit of around 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, several days per week. If you’re concerned about your blood pressure it is worth seeing your doctor for proper medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Help make nutritious food choices
Although you definitely don’t want to be limiting your food consumption and under fuelling, we’ve all known that out of control ‘runger’ which can lead to overeating less nutritious foods.. This study found that people who worked out in the morning responded less to cues for food, which could help prevent this.
I find that I tend to make healthier choices throughout the day if I’ve started with a run… drinking more water than coffee, picking lower sugar breakfast items and fueling my body to recover post-run rather than just using caffeine/sugar to get through the day.
Do make sure you’re fuelling adequately though. In particular, you want to make sure you’re consuming enough carbs and protein for recovery within the 30 minutes after a hard session. And continue to fuel and hydrate throughout the day to make for a great run/workout the following morning.
Do you prefer a morning or an evening workout? What are your top tips for making that early alarm more bearable?