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Get Moving Early: Consider the Morning Run

If you’re reading this blog, you probably run (at least once in a while) or are thinking about getting into running. Sometimes, however, the running itself is a problem. I’m not talking about injury issues here; that’s another blog (or five). I’m talking about getting off the couch, into your shoes, and out the door.

Our multiple obligations seem to chew up all available time. We’ve got bills to pay, families to nurture, kitchens to clean, TV to watch, blogs to surf... it all adds up. Sometimes you can find yourself at the end of a long, exhausting day wondering where all the time went. Running was on the to-do list, but it didn’t get checked off.

You could, of course, be like legendary Australian marathoner Robert de Castella, who famously exclaimed, “Nothing gets in the way of my workout.” He was a professional, so his livelihood was on the line. It is also telling, however, that he also famously said, “Some might say that it’s easier to be the runner than the runner’s family.” I guess avoiding work-family-life balance is an option, but it’s not an option I personally am willing to choose. Therefore, I –– like most of you –– have to figure out how to reorder the time I’ve got to get a little more “me time” in the mix.

You already know where this is going…Yep, I’m going to go full-on Benjamin Franklin and tell you to get up early and get your run in before the rest of life intrudes. (Franklin actually wrote a book in praise of efficient mornings: Early Rising: A Natural, Social, and Religious Duty –– no word on whether he included a chapter on running, though.)

This guy was a big fan of getting up too early.

The early morning run answers the runner’s central question: “When am I going to get my run in?” Do it early and you are set –– it’s off your to-do list. The sense of accomplishment pervades the rest of your day because the surge of extra energy and the rush of endorphins helps keep you “up” for the rest of the day.

If you are trying to lose some weight, an early morning run helps to rev up your metabolism. In a similar vein, an early run provides a great opportunity to do an unfueled depletion run before you have any breakfast. The idea of the depletion run is to train your body to tap into alternate fuel sources, such as fat, when it’s preferred fuel of carbohydrates is in short supply. Using fat as fuel at the end of a long race, such as a marathon, is something that can be accomplished through training. So, for some of your morning runs, just have some coffee or water and go. You will be training yourself to harness some extra energy when your glycogen runs out at the end of a long race (http://runningmagazine.ca/when-why-depletion-run/).

“I got my run in this morning –– look out world!”

Parents with young kids know that babies and toddlers can be early birds. If you’re up anyhow, put Junior in the jogging stroller and get moving. Children typically like the motion and scenery and you’ll benefit from weight training as you push that heavy stroller, so it’s a win-win all around.

How do you become a morning runner, especially if you are not really a “morning person?” The first week can be tough. Routine will be your friend –– be sure to establish one. Almost all successful morning runners recommend laying out gear the night before. Some runners will even sleep in their running clothes (there’s dedication) to make things easier in the morning. If you have a timer on your coffee maker, you can treat yourself by having hot coffee waiting for you –– either on first rising or when you return home from your killer workout.

If you are having a lot of issues transitioning to a morning run regime, find a training partner. Not only does misery love company, but if you are meeting someone, you will be less likely to miss your running appointment –– no one wants to be “that person.”

On vacation? Try a morning run.

Spring is the best time of the year to establish a morning running routine. The sensory pleasures of morning running are easy to appreciate because the temperature is pleasant, daybreak comes earlier, the bird songs are melodious, and the spring greenery is pretty beautiful this time of year. As spring turns to summer, you’ll be set to avoid the mid-day heat. Before you know it, it will feel weird not to “pay yourself first” by starting the day with a run.

Are you a devoted morning runner? Any tips for getting started? We would like to hear all about your experiences in the comments.

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