Here are a couple of questions for beginner runners who want to shake things up and start running first thing in the morning. Why do you run? Do you enjoy running? Now, I do not know if you enjoy running or not, but, probably like the rest of us, you get into a funk sometimes. And that is fine. Running has its days.
But whether going out for a run blows your hair back or not, you must be very clear about why you started running because that is the one reason that will propel you through those days when you do not feel like putting on your running shoes. Today I will share with you the amazing benefits of running in the morning for beginners and, hopefully, this will help you find your WHY.
In the past, I have shared tips that include how to start running, how to buy running shoes and how to start running for weight loss. By the end of this article, you will learn how to get motivated to run in the morning, why it is beneficial to run in the morning, as well as the benefits of running in the morning on an empty stomach.
But why should you run? Why not just take a brisk walk in the morning and carry on with your day? In 2012, a study that compared the energy expenditure between walking and running in average fitness individuals was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
The research revealed that energy expenditure during walking was around 372, and about 470 for running. After the respective exercises, researchers further found that the average participant expended 463.34 of energy, while those that had taken part in running used up 664. Those differences in energy expenditure between walking and running show that running is more effective than walking for the average person as it burns more calories per minute.
7 benefits of running in the morning
If weight loss is one of the reasons you want to start running in the morning, you are off to a good start.
1. Running increases your metabolism & helps you lose weight
Running at low intensity 5 days a week for 30 minutes will temporarily boost your metabolism. Metabolism is a process by which stored fats, also known as triglycerides, are converted into energy. You can read up on foods and other activities that will rev up your metabolism in this article.
If you are a complete beginner, however, you should not go for the full 5 days a week as that may cause you to burn out and give up on your weight loss goal.
The best way to start running in the morning to lose weight when you have a lot of pounds to shed is by walking for 30 minutes, 3 days a week in the first week, and as you progress, you can start running at a slower and comfortable pace. You can download your free running for weight loss plan in pdf in this article which goes into detail about running to lose weight when you are out of shape.
Benefits of running in the morning on an empty stomach
You have probably heard stories about people who find it difficult to run in the morning who thrive on fasted cardio. Others claim that running on an empty stomach gives them a burst of energy, while some, struggle to power through such runs. But are there any real benefits of running in the morning on an empty stomach?
There have been claims that fasted cardio accelerates fat loss, but according to a study conducted by Brad Schoenfeld in 2011, training early in the morning on an empty stomach does not affect fat loss.
The findings published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal revealed that ‘’the net effect on fat loss associated with such an approach will be no better than training after meal consumption, and quite possibly, it would produce inferior results.’’
Schoenfeld concluded that people should train according to their preference, either before or after a meal, as fasted cardio does not in any way maximise fat loss. Based on this, if you are on a weight loss journey, do not be pressured into running in the morning on an empty stomach because results will pretty much be the same whether you eat before or after your run.
That said, if you want to become a fat-burning machine of envy that continues to burn fat hours after exercising, then you would have to add strength training to your running routine. Increased muscle mass will boost your metabolism further since muscle burns three times more calories than fat.
Introducing muscle building workouts such as weight lifting and high-intensity interval training workouts (HIIT) to your morning runs will ultimately help you lose weight faster and improve your physical conditioning.
Get started on strength training with these workouts plans:
- 30 day fat burning workout routine for beginners
- 30 day ab challenge for beginners
- 7 day home workout plan
- Best leg workout plan
2. Running in the morning helps you stay consistent
Lack of time and energy at the end of a long day makes it hard to stay consistent with exercising. For many, there isn’t enough time on a busy day to throw in a workout, while others are just too tired to do any more physical activity at the end of a workday.
Another reason people fail to make fitness a habit is life is full of surprises and unexpected turns. Certain events may suddenly come up at the end of the day, which would validate skipping your afternoon or evening run.
Running in the morning helps you stay consistent because chances are very slim that something will come up to disrupt your planned morning run. Besides, if you ever wake up tired, a morning cup of coffee will put you back in the mood to go and run.
Once you dedicate the early mornings to running, you will realise how easy it is to stay committed to your fitness journey and soon be reaping the benefits of running in the morning.
Running in the morning will free up time for you to relax with family, run errands or catch up with friends over a drink or two later in the day.
Mental benefits of running in the morning
Running in the morning does such wonderful things for your mental health as you are about to read.
3. Running in the morning reduces stress
Life is full of challenges that sometimes knock even the strongest person down. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) recommends exercise as one of the effective ways to reduce stress.
Running and other forms of exercise stimulate the production of the body’s natural painkillers called endorphins, best known as feel-good hormones.
Euphoria floods the body when endorphins are released, and while we can’t run away from our problems, we can manage stress levels by exercising the body and mind. Experiencing a runner’s high in the morning will improve your mood despite the circumstances.
4. Morning runs will boost your energy levels
One of the great benefits of running in the morning is that it leaves you feeling energised and ready to take on the day. Apart from endorphins, the body releases other brain-boosting chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin during exercise.
According to doctor Toni Golen, a Harvard Women’s Health Watch contributor, physical activity encourages a lot more cell powerhouses, and having lots of these powerhouses ‘’increases your body’s energy supply.’’
Also, the increase in the hormones released during running and other forms of exercise will leave you feeling energised all day long- think caffeine-kind-of boost.
5. Benefits of running in the morning vs night
There is no argument that regular exercise does improve the quality and quantity of sleep, even for people with sleep disorders. However, the timing of the workout is important because each person is affected differently.
Some people have no trouble falling asleep after running in the evening, while others, like me, find it hard to drift off after vigorous activity close to bedtime. If you fall into the latter category, then you will immensely benefit from running in the morning.
As indicated earlier, running increases an individual’s energy levels, which means that if you run in the morning, you will use up the extra energy during the day and be ready to sleep peacefully at night. On the other hand, if you go jogging in the evening, the chances are that you will have a restless night.
6. Running in the morning will teach you self-discipline
It takes discipline to get out of your comfy bed to go and run, especially on a cold morning. When you stay committed to your fitness goals and keep showing up every morning, no matter what, that is self-discipline. Once you have mastered the art of self-discipline, you will stop looking for outside sources of motivation.
7. Early morning runs give a sense of peace and quiet
Because there are fewer cars on the road in the early mornings and fewer people out and about, running in the morning is quite calming.
You will grow to appreciate and enjoy fresh air, quiet streets, and the beauty of nature in the morning. What better time to entertain your thoughts and reflect on life than during early morning runs? Running in the morning is also a great way to avoid the summer heat and humidity.
How to start running in the morning
Okay, so you love all these health benefits, and now you are convinced enough to want to become a morning runner. But how do you wake up in the morning to go running?
You have probably tried before to drag yourself out of your warm and comfy bed but miserably failed, or you find morning runs tougher, especially if you claim not to be a morning person.
Tips for an early morning workout: how to get pumped for your morning run
1. Find your ‘WHY’
Define your WHY and always remember why you want to run in the morning. Your WHY could be that running in the morning will become an outlet for stress, or that you want to lose weight for health reasons. Whatever the case, make sure your ‘why’ is strong enough to motivate you to keep showing up every day.
When you feel you are too tired to run in the morning, always remember this inspirational quote ‘If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.’
2. Prepare for the run the night before
Your early morning run is not going to happen if you treat the night before like any other night and simply rely on your alarm clock to get you out of bed.
Unless you have exceptionally strong willpower, chances are that you will hit the snooze button the moment the alarm goes off at 5am.
Here is what you should do in order to wake up early to exercise:
- Lay out your workout clothes (sleep in them if you like)
- Set up your alarm clock and place it far away from arm’s reach so that you have to get up to turn it off
- Go to bed early so that you can wake up early
3. Get caffeinated
Lastly, have a cup of coffee right after you wake up if you need an energy buzz and keep the workout short the first couple of days until waking up early in the morning to go running becomes part of your daily routine.
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Schoenfeld, Brad MS, CSCS Does Cardio After an Overnight Fast Maximize Fat Loss?, Strength and Conditioning Journal: February 2011 – Volume 33 – Issue 1 – p 23-25 doi: 10.1519/SSC.0b013e31820396ec
Wilkin LD, Cheryl A, Haddock BL. Energy expenditure comparison between walking and running in average fitness individuals. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Apr;26(4):1039-44. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31822e592c. PMID: 22446673.
Susan Chanda is a professional content writer/journalist with over 20 years’ experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from University of South Africa and a diploma in Journalism and Public relations.
Susan has been writing evidence based fitness and health articles since 2016 for Fitness Chat, and is a certified fitness trainer, and diet and nutrition coach.
Fitness Chat is one of the several other websites that Susan owns, or co-owns with her children.
You can read more about Susan here.