Running In The Morning: Benefits + 11 Tips to Becoming An Early Morning Runner

The early bird catches the miles, and the health benefits.

Choosing the best time of the day to run can be a personal decision.

Some runners are “morning people,“meaning they wake up full of energy, often without even needing an alarm clock, whereas other runners are “night owls“ who like to stay up late and have trouble refraining from hitting snooze several times each morning.

If you are a morning person, running in the morning is often the obvious choice because you not only feel great in the morning but also take advantage of the practical benefits of running in the morning.

However, even some night owls who feel groggy in the morning or struggle to get going find that they need to run in the early morning to fit running into their daily schedule logistically.

No matter what situation you are in, having the best morning running tips can help ensure that you can stick with your morning running routine and maximize the benefits of running in the morning.

In this guide, we will discuss the physical and mental health benefits of running in the morning and practical tips for establishing a morning running routine, particularly if you are a night owl struggling to wake up early.

We will cover: 

Let’s dive in! 

A person running in the morning.

What Are the Benefits of Running In the Morning?

There are many benefits of running. 

For example, running has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.1Lee, D., Pate, R. R., Lavie, C. J., Sui, X., Church, T. S., & Blair, S. N. (2014). Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology64(5), 472–481. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058

‌In fact, studies have found that runners who consistently run even just a few miles per week may have a 25-40% lower risk of premature mortality and an average life expectancy of three years longer than non-runners.2Lee, D.-C., Brellenthin, A. G., Thompson, P. D., Sui, X., Lee, I-Min., & Lavie, C. J. (2017). Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases60(1), 45–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2017.03.005

‌But, is there a benefit to running in the morning specifically?

It turns out, there may be some additional benefits to running in the morning. Here are some top early morning running benefits:

People running in the morning.

#1 Calorie Control And Weight Loss

Morning exercise has been shown to help reduce your appetite for the rest of the day, potentially helping you control your caloric intake.3Parr, E. B., Heilbronn, L. K., & Hawley, J. A. (2020). A Time to Eat and a Time to Exercise. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews48(1), 4–10. https://doi.org/10.1249/jes.0000000000000207

‌These appetite-attenuating benefits of an early morning run may be accentuated if you run on an empty stomach (fasted exercise).

For example, one study found that men who exercised before breakfast (without eating) ate fewer calories throughout the rest of the day than those who exercised after eating.4Bachman, J. L., Deitrick, R. W., & Hillman, A. R. (2016). Exercising in the Fasted State Reduced 24-Hour Energy Intake in Active Male Adults. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism2016, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/1984198

There’s evidence to suggest that people who work out in the morning tend to exert more energy throughout the day, which can support weight loss and better health.5Hanlon, B., Larson, M. J., Bailey, B. W., & LeCheminant, J. D. (2012). Neural response to pictures of food after exercise in normal-weight and obese women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise44(10), 1864–1870. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e31825cade5

#2: Fat Burn

Running in the morning on an empty stomach has been shown to increase the relative percentage of fat oxidation, meaning that more of the calories you burn during the run comes from stored body fat.6Bachman, J. L., Deitrick, R. W., & Hillman, A. R. (2016). Exercising in the Fasted State Reduced 24-Hour Energy Intake in Active Male Adults. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism2016, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/1984198

‌This won’t help you burn more total calories, but it may help train your body to be more efficient at burning fat and sparing glycogen stores.

This can benefit marathon, ultramarathon, and other long-distance runners because running out of glycogen on race day is a common problem, even with the best fueling strategy.

#3: Sleep Quality

Morning runs can improve sleep quality.7Collier, S., Fairbrother, K., Cartner, B., Alley, J., Curry, C., Dickinson, D., & Morris, D. (2014). Effects of exercise timing on sleep architecture and nocturnal blood pressure in prehypertensives. Vascular Health and Risk Management, 691. https://doi.org/10.2147/vhrm.s73688

‌In fact, exercising in the morning, when compared to exercising in the afternoon or evening, has been shown to improve the quality of sleep more significantly, especially in the later hours of sleep.8Morita, Y., Sasai-Sakuma, T., & Inoue, Y. (2017). Effects of acute morning and evening exercise on subjective and objective sleep quality in older individuals with insomnia. Sleep Medicine34, 200–208. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2017.03.014

A person running in the morning.

‌#4: Blood Pressure Control

Morning exercise has been shown to be a more effective way to manage hypertension (high blood pressure) than running in the afternoon or evening.9Wheeler, M. J., Dunstan, D. W., Ellis, K. A., Cerin, E., Phillips, S., Lambert, G., Naylor, L. H., Dempsey, P. C., Kingwell, B. A., & Green, D. J. (2019). Effect of Morning Exercise With or Without Breaks in Prolonged Sitting on Blood Pressure in Older Overweight/Obese Adults. Hypertension73(4), 859–867. https://doi.org/10.1161/hypertensionaha.118.12373

‌#5: Productivity

A morning run can help improve attention, working memory, and executive function throughout the rest of the day, according to research.10Basso, J. C., & Suzuki, W. A. (2017). The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: a Review. Brain Plasticity2(2), 127–152. https://doi.org/10.3233/bpl-160040

#6: Race Simulation

Morning workouts will prepare you for races, both physically and practically (what to eat before running in the morning, how to move your bowels before a morning run, etc.) because most races take place early in the morning.

#7: Run Adherence

A morning running routine is often easier to practice consistently without distractions and other obligations coming up over the course of the day.

A study found that a consistent morning exercise routine improves exercise adherence and weight loss results.11Schumacher, L. M., Thomas, J. G., Raynor, H. A., Rhodes, R. E., & Bond, D. S. (2020). Consistent Morning Exercise May Be Beneficial for Individuals With Obesity. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews48(4), 201–208. https://doi.org/10.1249/JES.0000000000000226

Running in the morning fills you with a sense of accomplishment and sets the tone for a productive, upbeat, and successful day ahead.

A person pressing snooze.

How Can I Motivate Myself to Run In the Morning?

Now that we have listed some of the excellent benefits of running in the morning, you might feel motivated to take on a morning running routine.

However, if you are used to running later in the day or don’t consider yourself an “early bird,“ you might need a few tips for avoiding hitting the snooze button and getting in a good early morning run.

#1: Go to Bed Earlier

This early morning running tip should be obvious, but in order to feel less groggy and certainly less prone to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock when it is time to wake up for an early morning run, you have to get to bed earlier.

You won’t be doing your body any favors if you are not getting enough sleep.

For most people, suddenly jumping to a different sleep schedule doesn’t work well. You may have trouble falling asleep, and your sleep quality can decline in addition to your sleep quantity.

Try gradually shifting your bedtime 15 minutes earlier and your wake up time 15 minutes earlier each day over the course of several days to a week, depending on what your new morning exercise schedule is going to be.

#2: Give Yourself a Buffer

Even early birds or “morning people,“ aren’t usually ready to jump right out of bed and lace up their running shoes to immediately head out for a morning workout.

Try to wake up at least 30 minutes before your planned run time.

Walk around your house and get ready for your day in other ways, perhaps packing your lunch, getting your work bag in order, having a little coffee and a pre-run snack.

If possible to give your body time to warm up and your mind to wake up before you head out the door for your morning run.

A person drinking coffee and eating a cookie.

#3: Wear Your Running Clothes to Bed

If you are really not a morning person, wearing your running clothes to bed removes one step in the process of getting ready to run in the early morning.

It will end up being more work to have to change out of your clothes and not go running than it will to go with the momentum you have built ahead of time by wearing your running clothes.

Also, before you go to bed, lay out your running shoes and whatever running gear you will need, such as your watch or hydration pack, so that you are not trying to track them down when you are groggy and tired.

#4: Have a Pre-Run Snack

If you are used to running later in the day, you are probably accustomed to having a snack or meal before running.

Although some people like to run in a fasted state, most sports nutritionists strongly suggest that you do not run on an empty stomach.

Getting up 30 to 60 minutes before your morning run will ensure that you have some time to digest a small breakfast or snack high in simple carbs.

If you have a sensitive stomach, even just a sports drink or a few bites of banana will give you a few carbs to kickstart your energy and prevent feeling like you are running in a glycogen-depleted state.

Running on an empty stomach will also increase how much protein you metabolize, which is essentially muscle breakdown, so you want to avoid this at all costs.

A person doing bounds on a track.

#5: Do a Dynamic Warm Up

You should always warm up before running, but a thorough warm-up routine is even more important when you are running first thing in the morning.

When you have been lying down in bed for hours, your body will be stiff and cold.

A brisk walk or light jog followed by dynamic stretches before you dive into the meat of your workout or longer run will help you feel more limber and fluid and may reduce the risk of pulling a muscle.

#6: Prep Your Food

To help motivate yourself to get out the door for an early morning run, consider making your favorite elaborate coffee or tea to warm you up when you get home.

Or, perhaps, for summer morning workouts, motivate yourself with the promise of a nutritious, refreshing smoothie when you get back.

Some runners even end their early morning run at a favorite coffee shop or bakery for a post-run treat.

You can also pre-prep your breakfast so that you have healthy and enticing post-workout food for when you get home.

A person running on a treadmill at home.

#7: Get the Right Running Gear

A morning runner needs special running gear to ensure safety running in the dark

A reflective vest, running headlamp, and strobe lights for your running shoes can help improve visibility for you and drivers on the road.

Safety should always trump getting in your morning run, but with the right running gear, most runners can safely see and be seen running in the dark.

#8: Try the Treadmill

If you hate the idea of running in the dark but don’t have another time of day to run, you can always head to the gym and run on the treadmill.

If you have the financial means, it may also be worth it to buy a home treadmill so that you always have an option for your running workouts at hoome.

#9: Run Commute

You can motivate yourself to be a morning runner by double-dipping your morning run with your commute to work.

Pack a light running backpack with a change of clothes and your running gear, and try running to the office.

That way, you’ll also enjoy perks like saving money on gas or bus tickets, and maybe even save time driving to the office.

Friends running together.

#10: Get a Personal Trainer or Coach

Hiring a personal trainer or running coach to help you develop a training plan is a great way to improve your running motivation, no matter what time of day you choose to run.

Some running groups even meet in the morning, so you might have running buddies who are eager to get their miles in with you before the sun rises.

#11: Recruit a Friend

If you aren’t a natural morning runner, having a running buddy waiting for you will increase your accountability and help you stay consistent with your morning exercise routine.

Overall, running in the early morning before the workday can help you jumpstart your day on the right foot both physically and mentally. 

You will have already accomplished something before the workday begins, and you don’t have to worry about finding another time of day to run when things get busy and hectic.

If you are used to doing an evening run, consider trying morning running and seeing if you enjoy it! 

There’s nothing quite like starting your day with a healthy dose of endorphins to put you in a good mood and improve your physical and mental well-being.

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References

  • 1
    Lee, D., Pate, R. R., Lavie, C. J., Sui, X., Church, T. S., & Blair, S. N. (2014). Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology64(5), 472–481. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058
  • 2
    Lee, D.-C., Brellenthin, A. G., Thompson, P. D., Sui, X., Lee, I-Min., & Lavie, C. J. (2017). Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases60(1), 45–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2017.03.005
  • 3
    Parr, E. B., Heilbronn, L. K., & Hawley, J. A. (2020). A Time to Eat and a Time to Exercise. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews48(1), 4–10. https://doi.org/10.1249/jes.0000000000000207
  • 4
    Bachman, J. L., Deitrick, R. W., & Hillman, A. R. (2016). Exercising in the Fasted State Reduced 24-Hour Energy Intake in Active Male Adults. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism2016, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/1984198
  • 5
    Hanlon, B., Larson, M. J., Bailey, B. W., & LeCheminant, J. D. (2012). Neural response to pictures of food after exercise in normal-weight and obese women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise44(10), 1864–1870. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e31825cade5
  • 6
    Bachman, J. L., Deitrick, R. W., & Hillman, A. R. (2016). Exercising in the Fasted State Reduced 24-Hour Energy Intake in Active Male Adults. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism2016, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/1984198
  • 7
    Collier, S., Fairbrother, K., Cartner, B., Alley, J., Curry, C., Dickinson, D., & Morris, D. (2014). Effects of exercise timing on sleep architecture and nocturnal blood pressure in prehypertensives. Vascular Health and Risk Management, 691. https://doi.org/10.2147/vhrm.s73688
  • 8
    Morita, Y., Sasai-Sakuma, T., & Inoue, Y. (2017). Effects of acute morning and evening exercise on subjective and objective sleep quality in older individuals with insomnia. Sleep Medicine34, 200–208. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2017.03.014
  • 9
    Wheeler, M. J., Dunstan, D. W., Ellis, K. A., Cerin, E., Phillips, S., Lambert, G., Naylor, L. H., Dempsey, P. C., Kingwell, B. A., & Green, D. J. (2019). Effect of Morning Exercise With or Without Breaks in Prolonged Sitting on Blood Pressure in Older Overweight/Obese Adults. Hypertension73(4), 859–867. https://doi.org/10.1161/hypertensionaha.118.12373
  • 10
    Basso, J. C., & Suzuki, W. A. (2017). The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: a Review. Brain Plasticity2(2), 127–152. https://doi.org/10.3233/bpl-160040
  • 11
    Schumacher, L. M., Thomas, J. G., Raynor, H. A., Rhodes, R. E., & Bond, D. S. (2020). Consistent Morning Exercise May Be Beneficial for Individuals With Obesity. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews48(4), 201–208. https://doi.org/10.1249/JES.0000000000000226
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

13 thoughts on “Running In The Morning: Benefits + 11 Tips to Becoming An Early Morning Runner”

  1. Thank you Thomas for all your encouragement! I’m yet to start training properly for my next marathon. Need to be consistent and form good habits. I’ll be in touch regarding a program sooooon. Thanks once again and keep up the good work. Geraldine

    Reply
  2. Thomas,
    I’m sending a big ‘Hi!’ from Croatia! I would like to thank you for your e-mails and give you a feedback. I so much got used to recceiving your e-mails and I simply can’t believe how much I’ve gained from them! I’ve been running for two years and, being very interested to learn every information which I can find out, I’ve read many articles and books about running. But, since I’ve I stumbled upon your articles/videos a month ago and started receiving your running-emals, I’ve been in sync with them and I really felt like having found a treasure! Now I’m training according to your 20-weeks-marathon plan which is the first plan to work fantastic for me! Thank you very much and keep on with your great work! 😊

    Reply
  3. Thomas, interesting read, after 30 years of running, not so much the last six years, I have decided I want to complete another marathon.
    I am now 62 and my last marathon was in 1997 (London 3hrs 5mins) and I want/need to have another race.
    I’ve be looking for some motivation and reading the article above has indeed given me the kick I’ve been looking for.
    I will hopefully be starting on October 1st as this will coincide with “sober October” so hopefully be a little easier.
    Thanks

    Reply
  4. Any thoughts on how to manage when you don’t live in an area that is well lit? I wear a running vest with LED lights, but just the other morning I was running in an area without street lights and tripped and ended up with stiches and a mild concussion.

    Reply
  5. Hi Thomas,
    Thanks for all the tips on these newsletters, they’re so helpful. I’m currently training for my first marathon: Singapore in December!
    I’m excited for the challenge but a bit stressed about the fact that it starts at 4.30am! Can you give any advice on sleep and meal times for such an early start? Thanks!

    Reply
  6. HI! I recently found your site. Been enjoying all the freebies, encouraging posts and emails. My 1st goal is to finally run 1 mile continuously. I’ve more of a hiker, not so much running. Thanks for the tips in this blog post

    Reply

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