From the very beginning of my running journey, I’ve struggled hard with running in the morning.
My hand to that snooze button had a magnetic force to it.
It’s unbelievable — half the time I couldn’t even remember shutting off my alarm! I would constantly wake up sluggishly, only to be disappointed that yet again, I failed to accomplish my morning run.
For a long time, I thought it was a lost cause.
That was until I was put in a situation where I no longer had nights + evenings at my disposal.
If I didn’t get my runs completed in the morning, they would never get done!
It’s actually amazing what our bodies are capable of when we give them ultimatums.
This goes back to the age-old foundation of procrastination — we don’t feel like doing something until it has to get done.
In reality, you shouldn’t have to wait until your body feels pressured to form a morning running habit!
You should be able to take small, calculated steps to establish this habit anytime.
My mistake was that I didn’t know the tactics necessary to wire my body for morning workouts — which is why I’ve created 14 tips to help you start running in the morning!
I really wish I had these tips starting out. It would have made getting out of bed and out the door a lot easier!
I was in denial for a long time. I thought I could muster up the discipline to NOT hit the snooze button in the dark, early hours of the morning.
After many failed attempts at getting up in the morning (and when I say “many” I mean all of them) I got over my pride and was honest with myself.
I just wasn’t gonna happen. I needed something drastic.
Once I started setting my alarm out of reach — making that snooze button inaccessible — this made all the difference!
I started getting up and out the door without fail.
It was the simple act of having to get out of bed that got the job done.
I even like to take it to the extreme and place my alarm in the next room!
Don’t be ashamed if this strategy is crucial to your success.
Sometimes we need to accept when a situation isn’t working for us and take the proper measures to fix it.
Setting an upbeat playlist as your morning alarm is ridiculously helpful.
I currently do this through Alexa — which pairs with multiple music streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, etc.
You can say something as simple as, “Alexa, wake me up to rap music at 6 AM!“. Boom.
If you don’t want to set music as your alarm (for some this isn’t invasive enough to get you out of bed) then start that upbeat playlist the moment you get out of bed!
Some examples of great morning playlists are…
I cannot stress this point enough.
You need enough sleep to have any chance of getting your body to wake up in the mornings.
Seems like common sense, right?
But you’d be surprised when you REALLY think about it, how small of a priority sleep can become.
Restful sleep should be a strong priority, and not something you just “fit into” your day when you can.
Any goals you are trying to achieve in life will DEFINITELY occur much slower without optimal sleep.
According to research published in Sleep Health, the appropriate amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours. Any more or less disrupts your natural sleep cycle.
Also, little distractors can greatly disrupt your circadian rhythm + sleep cycle, even further preventing you from optimizing those hours of sleep!
So make sure you turn all electronics off at least 15-minutes prior to getting shut-eye.
When you finally get your body in a proper sleep rhythm, your productivity and mental acuity will skyrocket.
Taking the time to properly fuel your body is absolutely crucial to your success.
I can’t count the number of times I set out on a run, only to be hit by a slump by the first half mile.
Having to stop a run short due to lack of proper fueling is extremely frustrating.
Forming a running habit is hard enough…why add in more stressors to the mix when it can be prevented?
Some easy options for pre-run fuel are:
And, as always, make sure you’re ALWAYS properly hydrated!
When I say everything…I mean, EVERYTHING.
Don’t give yourself any reason to not get out that door.
For me, it could be something as small as “having to look for my running shoes” to convince me that it wasn’t going to happen.
Accept the fact that in the morning you won’t feel as motivated, and your mind will try to come up with ANY excuse to “start tomorrow”.
In this case, there’s no such thing as over-preparation.
Sleep with your running clothes on, set a timer on your coffee maker, leave your pre-run fuel prepped in the fridge, charge your fitness tracker, etc.
‘Run through your entire morning in your head, and have every possible thing ready!
Misery loves company — especially when you have to get up before the sun and run!
Not only will this make you more accountable, but it makes the mornings WAY less boring and difficult.
Set a time to meet with a friend as if you were setting up a business appointment. It’s non-negotiable!
Also, it’s an awesome bonding experience to grow alongside a fellow runner and watch each other’s progress.
Just don’t be afraid to branch off and start training alone when the time calls for it.
Whatever this means for you, do it.
Say a motivational phrase upon waking up, do a little dance in the living room, play your favorite jam while throwing on your running shoes — anything goes!
A tactic I use to get myself motivated is “The 5 Second Rule” by Mel Robbins, where you literally count down from 5-seconds before you commit to doing a given task.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what you do to pump yourself up in the mornings.
As long as you do it with energy.
This is a tidbit that I skipped when I started running…and I paid for it.
Within a couple of months, I developed a running injury that put me out of commission for some time.
After this experience, I vowed to never put proper warm-ups or recovery on the back-burner ever again.
They’re so important to prevent injury and maximize your training.
Also, I found when developing a running routine in the early hours of the morning, warming up really helped get me in the zone!
I would start with a 5-minute walk to warm-up, where I would play some jams and get my body adjusted to waking up. Then, after the run, I would take a 5-minute walk to cool down and revel in the glory of my running success!
While it’s crucial for proper running recovery, I find that the mental benefits also make it supremely worth it!
This is simple.
The less time it takes you to accept that running in the mornings won’t feel good at first…the more success you’ll have.
Anything worth having doesn’t feel “right” when you start.
It takes work and resilience to start reaping the benefits.
A fringe benefit of waking up with the sun is the morning views!
Take advantage of this and run at a local park, the beach, or in a really nice neighborhood.
Nothing sparks your zest for the day like starting your morning with a sunrise + a healthy running routine.
You might start the run feeling like total crap, but you’ll end the run feeling like you can conquer anything the day throws at you — guaranteed!
If you’re capable of waking up early without a dose of caffeinated encouragement, I envy you!
While we shouldn’t be dependent on caffeine for energy, it’s okay to accept that in the beginning, we might need a little help.
For me, a morning coffee would be the difference between me accomplishing my run or sleeping in.
Normally, I don’t even need a full cup! Just a sip to get me jolted and out the door.
Regardless of the beverage, make sure it’s ready for you to sip on right when you get out of bed in the morning.
Oftentimes, we make tasks seem more difficult than they actually are by building up the idea in our minds.
I am extremely guilty of this, which has caused me to take measures to prevent it over the years.
One of the best ways to prevent this mental blockade of self-sabotage is to just give yourself 5-minutes.
For example, promise yourself that you only have to run for 5-minutes, and if you still want to throw in the towel, you can!
No strings attached.
9 times out of 10 I will keep on running, as that hesitation stage has passed and I no longer feel the task at hand is difficult.
What I really mean by this is to take it slow.
Make a plan that consists of small, calculated steps that you’ll use to accomplish this new habit of running in the mornings.
For example, don’t just expect to get out at 6 AM and start running 5-miles right off the bat.
If you can…good for you! But that’s usually not how this thing works.
Maybe start with the goal of walking for 5-minutes in the mornings, or running for half a mile.
The small steps will be different for everyone.
The key is to make sure the steps are easy enough that they guarantee follow through. Which sets you up for success from the start!
There are a number of resources that I love which helped me in the beginning and some that I still use to this day!
I hope these tips help you ditch that snooze button and get your butt out the door!
I swear, it gets so much easier with each passing day you keep that promise to yourself that you’ll follow through — and actually run!
Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter how far off you are from being a “morning person”. No one is really just an “anything person”. We become certain types of people based on a mixture of personal preference and habit formation.
You’re just going to capitalize on the habit formation part of it!
So give the process the time it needs, and it WILL feel easier and natural before you know it.
Once you get in the habit of running in the mornings before the rest of the world wakes up, you’ll never want to do it any other way!
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.