I am sooo not a morning person. I know some people say that and still manage to be somewhat tolerable in the wee hours, but I assure you, I really mean it. During my teen years I referred to anything before noon as “the butt crack of dawn,” I’ve been known to growl at people before a certain time of day and the short time that my husband and I shared a car was notable in that we managed to remain married after those morning commutes.
That said, I have transformed into a morning runner in the past two years for a number of reasons, all having to do with my daily non-running schedule. I know that some of you share my dilemma – after all, according to one study, only 22% of Americans said they were “at their personal best” between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m, so I’m here to impart my wisdom on making morning runs work to my fellow non-early birds.
Prep before you head to bed. In order to maximize shut-eye (and to not wake my sleeping husband in the morning) I make sure I’m ready to go the night before my run. Who wants to be hunting for something in the laundry room when your eyes are barely open? If you wear a GPS watch be sure that it’s charged before you hit the hay; same thing goes for music players if you run with tunes. As far as clothes go, I make sure to check the weather forecast and lay out a couple of options if there’s a chance of rain or cool temps. For my longer mid-week runs I put my pre-run breakfast of a Honey Stinger Waffle in my prep pile. If I’m taking my dog with me I’ll even put her collar and leash by the back door. No stone left unturned, people!
Know your alarm clock style. What noises do you like to hear when you’re waking up? Soothing sounds? Loud noises? “Call Me Maybe?” I have personally had the most success with noises that jolt me out of bed. (Just normal alarm sounds; I haven’t yet had to resort to the Sonic Boom, an alarm clock that shakes your mattress!) You should also know what works for you in terms of alarm clock placement and snooze button action. Even though I use my cell phone as my alarm, I have a rule, derived from trial and error, that nothing can be blocking my line of vision for the clock on the dresser.
The buddy system is your friend. Seriously. Turning off the alarm will be a lot less tempting if you know you have a running buddy or two counting on you to show up. In my case my dog puts in at least a few miles with me on most days, and she knows our morning routine a little too well, so over-sleeping is not an option for me! (Though occasionally she’ll let me slide.) If a morning running buddy simply doesn’t fit into your life, consider finding an accountability partner – a runner friend who you check in with about that day’s workout. My BRF and I haven’t been able to fit in many runs lately, but we text or chat most mornings with the basics of our runs.
Go. To. Sleep. I know… it seems like it should be common sense, right? For some people, including myself, it can be hard to wind down and actually go to bed. It’s not that I’m not tired, it’s just that I have so much I want to do! While the amount of sleep your body needs varies from person to person, most adults need about 7-9 hours per night. And according to endurance sports coach Sage Rountree, you should add a minute of sleep to your daily routine for every mile you’re running that week.
So, just get to sleep! If you are like me and are go-go-go, you might need to set a hard bedtime. (And maybe an alarm that reminds you it’s about that time. I may be the only person who has an alarm for heading to bed!) If you have difficulty getting to sleep, check out Ginger’s post on sleep schedulesfor some ideas that may help.
And of course, Salty friend Predawn Runner has about a million posts on the subject of running before the sun!
What tips do you have for making morning runs routine?