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Dawn Patrol: Here’s How To Enjoy Running In The Morning

Running is one of those sports that can be done literally anytime or anywhere. Lace up a pair of shoes, start your multiport watch and head out the door — it doesn’t matter if it’s dawn or dusk, running doesn’t discriminate.

Waking up early to run doesn’t always feel like the most appealing way to start the day.

But let’s face it, not all runners are early risers. This makes sense — from the pressures of work, family and everyday life, sometimes a little extra early morning shut-eye is needed to top off energy levels for the day.

If you relate to this, you’re not alone, but if you find yourself pressed for time in the latter half of the day, morning runs are a great way to prioritize a daily workout. We know what you’re thinking: prove it. 

For tips on how to not just run in the morning, but actually enjoy morning runs, we reached out to Jocelyn McCauley. She’s a professional triathlete who’s lighting the 2019 season on fire after setting a new course record at IRONMAN New Zealand and finishing in a close second at IRONMAN Texas. She has the luxury of training full-time, but often opts for morning runs for a number of reasons she discusses below.

The first few wakeups will likely be a struggle, but after breaking through the initial hurdle of just getting started and creating a routine, you’ll soon be enjoying mile after mile of sunrises and empty trails without even a yawn.

Let’s say you’re not a big morning runner, what are some things somebody can do to overcome that hurdle?

Sometimes people are rushed in the morning so I also have a healthy breakfast I can easily just warm up if I’m in a rush.

When I plan to run in the morning, I always have all my gear and nutrition ready and laid out the night before to make it easier to get up and go. I love having people to meet up with so I can’t just decide to do it later in the day.  

Also, make sure you’ve already decided on a route and workout to do so you don’t have to make that decision in the morning. Getting a run done in the morning can check it off your list of things to do. Many people talk about a run “looming” over them if they know the whole day they have to get it done before bed. 

How do you make running In The Morning more enjoyable? Any fun tips or tricks?

I love looking forward to watching the sunrise. We have the best sunrises out in Idaho and they are worth getting up for! I just remind myself of how good it will feel to get the run done and that’s sometimes motivation enough. 

If you have to run in the morning, what is your go-to morning run workout? 

Since I’m lucky enough to have training and racing be my job, I generally keep my early morning runs as aerobic sessions, so just 30 to 120 minutes at an aerobic HR effort. I save my hard threshold and interval sessions for mid-morning after breakfast. 

Is your warm up different in the morning versus the evening? 

I know for most athletes they require a longer warm up in the morning than in the evening, but for some reason, I am the opposite, I require a longer warm up in the afternoon or evening than in the morning — it’s probably because I don’t have the fatigue from the day in the morning.

Are there any physical benefits for running in the morning instead of the evening? 

You can use morning runs to become more fat adapted. If occasionally you do a run without eating first in the morning, it can train your body to burn more fat for fuel then carbs.

The morning is generally cooler, so in the summer it’s nice to use that as a motivation. Exercise can also make it harder to fall asleep if it’s performed in the evening versus the morning.

Lastly, some runners are injury prone and so running in the morning before your legs have had the whole day of standing, walking, etc. will decrease the risk of injury. 

What are some mental benefits for running in the morning?

I love this quote from Christopher McDougall:

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or the gazelle — when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

While we aren’t lions or gazelles, running helps clear the mind and jumpstart productivity for the day. 

If you liked this post, don’t forget to share so that others can find it, too.

Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

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