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You’ve always wanted to run in the morning but when your alarm goes off at 5 a.m. it almost seems impossible to put your shoes on and run. But should you run right after waking up? Is it worth it? Or should you just run whenever you feel comfortable?
Running right after waking offers a lot of benefits including improved mood and energy throughout the day. However, it will take some time to get used to. Some people don’t have enough alertness and motivation to run in the morning which can affect their performance. Therefore, the best time to run is whenever you’re comfortable.
Ahead, we will discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of running first thing in the morning. I’ll also share with you 8 tips so you can successfully run first thing after waking up if you have to.
Should You Run Right After Waking Up?
Some people seem to have this superpower of being able to spring out of bed and go out for a run. Others may need a cup or two of their favorite espresso and just can’t seem to function well early in the morning.
I, personally, can relate to the latter. I hate working out early in the morning (sometimes I’m forced to), but the good thing is, you don’t have to. The best time to work out is always the time you’re most alert and energized. It allows you to exert more effort into your workout and perform better.
That said, no matter what the time is, as long as you’re running regularly, you’ll get the health benefits.
5 Advantages of Running First Thing In The Morning
Although the time of your workout doesn’t really matter that much, there are still some benefits of running first thing in the morning.
Improved Mood and Energy Throughout the Day
Though you may hate the idea of dragging yourself to the pavement early in the morning, it will give you a boost that running late in the afternoon can’t — mood and energy boost!
Running early in the morning gives you an early dose of endorphins and adrenaline which improves your mood and alertness that can last throughout the day.
Personally, this alone is a good enough reason to start running first thing in the morning.
Skipping a Workout Will Become Impossible
Have you ever tried planning to run after work only to be influenced by your friends to skip it for a bottle of beer or two? Or maybe you skipped it cause you’re ‘’too tired’’ to run and decided to binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix?
I can very much relate to those I described above. To prevent this from happening, I run first thing in the morning, especially when I know something may come up in the afternoon (which always happens on Fridays for me).
Running consistently early in the morning has been linked to better sleep quality. Training your body to run early in the morning will eliminate the grogginess that you feel right after waking up.
Aside from that, you’ll also reap the health benefits of early morning sunlight exposure like vitamin D if you choose to run outdoors.
A Boost In Confidence
One of the most important advantages of running first thing in the morning is a boost in confidence. There is something so fulfilling about being able to do something hard before your day even began. It gives you a boost in confidence knowing that you can push yourself to do challenging things. It gives you a small win early in the morning.
Reap The Benefits of Fasted Cardio
Although the effects of fasted cardio on weight management require further research, some implications working out in a fasted state has positive effects on your energy level and potentially body composition.
A study conducted in 2016 confirmed that running in a fasted state reduces the 24-hour energy intake of active male adults. They also found that fasted cardio resulted in an increase in fat oxidation — which means your body uses fat as energy because your glycogen is depleted following a fasted state.
There’s a grey area on whether or not fasted cardio helps you lose more fat thereby improving your body composition. A lot of other factors are in play to reach a conclusion. But if you’re comfortable with it, it’s worth a shot.
3 Disadvantages of Running First Thing in The Morning
Of course, there are some downsides to working out right after waking up.
Your Performance May Suffer
If you’re not used to running fasted, it could affect your overall performance which can lessen the volume and intensity of your workout.
In addition, your body is not in its optimal workout state early in the morning. This has something to do with your body’s core temperature. Your body temperature is at its peak in the afternoon. The exact time depends on multiple factors including your sleeping habits.
I remember listening to Dr. Andrew Huberman’s podcast where he mentioned that the best time to work out is 30 mins, 3 hours, 9 hours, and 11 hours after your waking time. If you want to know more about the human body and neuroscience, I highly recommend listening to his podcast.
It Can Cause Stress (If You Pressure Yourself To Work Out After Waking Up)
Success gurus can say a thing or two about waking up early in the morning and squeezing in a workout or two but the fact is, it’s very hard to do.
It takes so much energy to try and convince yourself to run early in the morning which may stress you out. If you don’t like the idea of running right after waking up, you don’t have to. Working out after a good breakfast or in the afternoon is just as good as working out first thing in the morning.
Increased Risk For Injury
Since your body’s core temperature is low in the morning, your muscles are cold and unprepared for an intense activity. In addition, it’s easy to take a misstep when you’re less alert, therefore, potentially increasing the risk for injury.
How To Run Right After Waking Up
Working out at any time of the day is just as good as working out first thing in the morning. But, if for some reason you need or want to run right after waking up, you can do these helpful tips so you can be more alert and energized for your morning run.
Improve Your Sleeping Habits
Your alertness and energy level largely depends on your sleep. According to Dr. Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, adults need to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. The quality of sleep is also as important as the amount of sleep. He suggests keeping your room dark and your gadgets away before bedtime to trigger your body to sleep mode.
Also, being consistent with your sleeping and waking time is paramount to a good sleeping habit.
If you want to learn more about sleep, you can listen to Why We Sleep on Audible for FREE by signing up to Audible’s 30-day FREE TRIAL. You can cancel anytime.
Get Sunlight Right After Waking Up and On the Afternoon
Sunlight is our body’s way of determining our waking and sleeping time. In an episode of the Huberman Labs Podcast, Dr. Huberman discussed the importance of getting morning sunlight right after waking up to signal our bodies and induce alertness.
Doing so for multiple mornings signals our bodies to release epinephrine nearing wake up time resulting in alertness.
Prepare Your Running Gear The Night Before
To do something hard (like running in the morning), you have to take the path of least resistance. One way to reduce resistance is by preparing your running gear ahead or sleeping in them. This way, you remove one thing that may cause you to procrastinate — looking for your running gear.
What I usually do the night before a morning run is I wear my running clothes to bed and place my socks and shoes at the bottom of my bed. That way, I’m building the habit of wearing my running shoes every morning which leads to running.
Put Your Alarm Clock Far From Your Bed
One trick that I learned from a good friend is to put your alarm clock away from your bed, or better yet, on a hard-to-reach spot. That way, when your alarm goes off, you’ll have to go through lengths just to hit snooze or stop.
Have an Accountability Buddy
Find a friend or a family member who wants to do the same thing as you. If you can’t find any, make a deal with anyone in your household to hold you accountable for not running. Buy him lunch if you said you were gonna run but didn’t.
Make sure you’re well-hydrated before you run by drinking a glass of water. Then, continue drinking water while you run. If you want to keep your hands free while running, there’s a lot of ways to carry your water while you run.
You’re body’s not prepared to go into an intense bout of exercise right after waking up. The best way to prepare it is by getting a good 5-10 mins of warm-up with low to moderate intensity composed of dynamic movements.
This will help keep you out of injury and prepare your body for exercise.
Here’s the warm-up routine that I do before my morning run:
10 meters zombie walk
20 high knees
20 butt kicks
There’s a lot of debate whether or not a cup of coffee breaks the fast, but if you need a cup to keep you alert before a run then you should consider doing it.
Although running first thing in the morning has some advantages, you don’t have to do it if you’re not comfortable doing it. Running any time of the day or when you’re most comfortable with is as good as running early in the morning.
More importantly, focus on the consistency of your runs. Pick a time when you’re most comfortable and run religiously. There’s a lot of benefits associate with running regularly.