• Helen Phillips

Master Early Morning Runs


We're in the midst of winter with the winter solstice fast approaching. I don't know about you, but my 'get out there and run' motivation to train after work at the end of the day is waning and I'm not sure it's going to wake up any time soon!

I've got all the kit, a fluorescent jacket, head torch, cosy hat and thermal gloves, but all I want to do at the end of the day is to curl up in front of a fire with a warming bowl of stew and a rich red wine.

Sound familiar? So to keep up my training I've embraced early morning running. And I've found getting up to run at dawn with the dog walkers around town I find gives me more energy to start the day.

If that's you and you're worried how you're going to get out to train for your marathon next spring, read on for tips on how to Master Early Morning Runs.

Make Early Mornings Easy

To run first thing in the morning you need to do two things 1) make it easy and 2) make it automatic.

If you think too much when you wake up running just won't happen, especially if it's raining cold and foggy outside. So my tips to Master Early Morning Runs focuses on taking the thought out of getting out the front door.

Work out your route and stay safe

Running early in the morning it's probably dark and there won't be too many people around. So choose streets and routes that are well lit and where friendly dog walkers hang out if you're concerned about safety.

When I started early morning running I discovered a new early morning out and about community! I was the lone runner, dressed in lurid lycra, on their turf running 60 second sprint intervals! But having the dog walkers around I felt safe to sprint.

Get your kit ready the night before

You need to make 'get up and run' as automatic as possible. So lay out your kit, water bottle, head touch, hat, gloves and jacket the night before. If you're heading directly to work or running as part of your commute, make sure you've got work clothes, toiletries and packed lunch ready to go too.

Don't think, just do

Since you've got your kit and work clothes all ready, when your alarm goes off don't hit snooze (you WILL want to), rather jump out of bed without thinking. Hit the bathroom, clean your teeth, drink a glass of water, kit on, stretch and head out the door.

Have everything prepared so you don't have to think. If you do you'll faff around and question your sanity about running so early when it's nicer to be still snuggled up in bed.

Early to bed for an early rise

If you're getting up 1 hour earlier for early morning running regularly you probably need to go to bed earlier, otherwise lack of sleep will catch up with you. So set your late night favourite TV shows to record and hit the sack.

Start off your early morning running with short workouts, maybe 30 minutes or so and ease into longer runs, which might require an earlier start!

Can you run commute to work?

If you live close to work and have access to a shower running to work is a real no brainer! Invest in a small rucksack to take your work clothes and toiletries and pack it the night before. You'll need a rucksack with chest and waist straps to stop it bouncing around and giving you embarrassing chaffing.

If you run to work, by the time you sit at your desk you'll be buzzing, full of endorphins, ready to go and be so much more productive.

When I worked in London I ran from Waterloo into the city each day regardless of the weather. I made it automatic. I knew if I skipped a day because it was too warm, too cold, too foggy, too wet or too windy I'd always be making excuses. Just do it! You'll have more energy and productive through the day.

When to eat

Unless you're doing a hefty long speed session or planning an early long run longer than one hour, you should be ok not to eat beforehand to fuel. However, make sure you eat a good balanced meal the night before, which includes some slow release carbohydrate to fuel your run.

If you do need to eat something before you run try a banana or an energy bar, find out what works for you. And if you're struggling put some coffee on to brew, even the smell will perk you up and make you feel more alive.

And when you're back make sure you eat a good filling healthy breakfast. I always find I'm ravenous through the morning after an early morning workout!

If you've a spring marathon in your sights why don't you come and join my Marathon Club Hub to help with your training and preparation for your race.

In Marathon Club Hub I will help you ramp up your running for your marathon, focusing on the right foods for fitness, strength and conditioning to fitness your form, as well as keeping you engaged and motivated along the way.

Let's do this!

Helen x