Hello! Today is great for several reasons (morning run, Chipotle for dinner, and new [Christmas!] episode of Glee) however there is one reason that trumps it all: My best friend is coming tonight! She goes to law school in Spokane, and due to our conflicting work/school schedules, we don’t get to see each other nearly enough. Fortunately, she’s stopping in Seattle for 24 hours en route to her Christmas vacation, meaning we get to play for a whole day!
I’m taking the day off work, and we’ll most likely spend our time shopping, eating, and maybe seeing an animated movie. Sound perfect? It will be. I can’t wait.
Anyways, today I was inspired to chat a bit about a concept that is very familiar to some runners and very horrifying to others: Running in the early morning.
Let me explain…
This morning, as I nestled in my warm, cozy bed trying to will every morsel of my being to get up, get dressed, and go for a run—I began thinking about the trials and tribulations of being a morning runner. I talk often with my coworker Leanne about this habit, as she’s in the process of trying to establish it in her morning routine.
I would say that 90% of the time I run in the morning, and I often get asked:
“Why the hell do you do that?”
Now, in that 90% of the time I do manage to get out of bed and run, about 80% of that time I ask myself this exact question before getting out of bed. Why the hell do I do this? Running in the morning not only requires missing out on an hour or two of sleep, but it also means leaving your bed and jammies to go outside in the dark and cold morning and run. To a non runner, this probably sounds like hell. I don’t blame you, because to a lot of runners, it can sometimes start out as hell.
Even as someone who has adapted and learned to love a morning run, nearly every time my alarm goes off I have to fight all my instincts that are screaming at me to stay horizontal. However, I have learned that the momentary pain of deciding to run in the morning yields and entire day of satisfaction and enthusiasm. Ultimately, being a morning runner makes me a more enjoyable person to be around for the rest of the day. I’m more productive, less antsy, and there’s never pressure after I’m done with work to get a work out in. You know that strong desire to plop on the couch after you’re done with a long day at the office? Well, if you workout/run in the morning—that’s exactly what you can do. It’s awesome.
Now, I will admit that I do have a few advantages on my side when it comes to being a morning runner. I am a morning person by nature, and ever since high school I have been used to exercising in the wee hours. Also, I currently telecommute, meaning that if I’m not showered by 9 am, no one’s going to be offended. However, other than these minor advantages, I truly believe that anyone can become a morning runner.
Here are some of the reasons why running in the morning are great, and how you can train your brain to get up and at ’em!
Why Run in the Morning?
Weather: The weather is typically much cooler in the morning, meaning that in the summertime you can avoid the heat and humidity by logging your miles early. Now, it’s true that in the winter it might be a bit cooler than the rest of the day as well, however the variation is honestly not enough to warrant an excuse to not go in the morning. Additionally, the cold factor is the same whether or not you go in the morning or at night in the winter—so really, there’s no excuse.
Earning Your Shower: You want to be clean for the day anyways, right? So might as well break your sweat before showering as opposed to needing to shower after you’ve already gone through your day. If you typically shower in the morning, you also avoid having to shower twice in one day if you were to run in the afternoon. Saving water!
Also…if it is cold out on your morning run, a hot shower feels incredible.
Freeing Up Your Day: As I stated earlier, there is nothing more liberating than getting done with work, school, errands, etc. and not having the pressure to go to the gym. A long day exhausts you, and you’re much less likely to workout once you’ve gone through your busy routine. Also, with the earned liberty of a free night, you are able to make plans with friends or go to dinner without the guilt of “Damn I should have gone to the gym.”
Rev Your Metabolism and Energy Level: Without fail, I always feel better during the day if I’ve exercised. I am more upbeat, more productive, and generally in a better mood. Endorphins can carry you a long way, and in my opinion it’s silly to waste them on a few hours before you go to bed when they could benefit you for the entire day. On that note, I found that if I exercise in the morning, I’m much more focused on fueling/refueling more effectively than if I were to laze around all day deciding whether or not to get my butt in gear.
Your Boss Will Notice: There’s a great quote I’ve heard that goes, “Runners are busier than non-runners.” This seems counter-intuitive; if someone is a runner, doesn’t that mean they have more free time and therefore are less busy. In some scenarios, sure, but overall runners are busier (aka, more productive) folk than non runners because they have adapted to compartmentalizing and prioritizing their time. Runners operate at a high level of efficiency, whether they are actually on a run or going about their daily lives, and I think you’ll find that adding a run to your routine will strengthen your efficiency and diligence in all other areas of your life.
So then (for those of you who I haven’t lost to my insanity), how do you become a morning runner?
Practice: The saying “practice makes perfect” is just as true when it comes to a running routine as it is to running itself. Just try getting up for a run once, and see how you feel. Remember that feeling, and when you’re inspired try it again. Nothing becomes easier without intentional repetition, and you’re fooling yourself if you think that one morning you’ll wake up and decide, “Hey, I think I’ll run every morning from now on.”
Prepare: Lay out your clothes, shoes, socks, iPod—whatever you need to make your running preparation quick and easy. If you see your clothes laying out and ready to go, you’d be surprised how your mind can convince itself that it’s ready to run. If this doesn’t work, sleep in your running clothes. I’m serious…sometimes you need to guilt yourself into it before it becomes easier.
Make Plans for Later: Eliminate the excuses. If you have plans for after work, and you intend on exercising, you have no choice but to obey your alarm clock.
Give Yourself Wiggle Room: Does hitting the snooze button twice comfort you? That’s fine…just sent your alarm two snooze times ahead of when you need to get up to run. Also, I know that I tend to go a bit slower getting out of the house in morning, so I allow myself enough time to dress, drink some water, grab a snack, and lace up while still have a decent amount of run time.
Just Do It: Nike says it best. Getting up in the morning takes gumption, no matter how experienced you are with it. As I said earlier, I still frequently have a hell of a time convincing myself to get out of bed. When it feels like the last thing you want to do, you need to push aside all thoughts of self doubt and suck it up. I believe that the most rewarding things in life are the harder routes to take, and running in the morning is a great example. Tell yourself all the benefits, visualize the good feeling it will leave you with, and get up and at ’em!
And when all that fails, set an absolutely, horrible sounding alarm and put it on the other side of your bedroom.
Somethings gotta give, right?
Are you a morning runner? What does it take for you to get out of bed and on the roads?