Rise and Run

Sure, that extra hour of sleep last weekend was great. But with the end of daylight savings has come the end of my evening runs. In their place: the dreaded early-a.m. workout. Here's how I'm coping

Now that daylight savings time is over, I’ve had to mix up my running schedule to include more early-morning runs. I am not a morning person by any means, but I also don’t like to run in the dark. To avoid the after-work, totally dark evening run, I've decided to start sacrificing a few hours of sleep in the morning. Getting myself out of bed is always the hardest part, but it further proves one point I've found: running is rarely convenient… it’s a discipline. If you’re working on this discipline, too, here are a few tips that have made the morning runs easier for me:


Be prepared. Check the weather the night before, decide what you’re going to wear and set it out so it’s ready to go in the morning. I even set out my water bottle and breakfast (usually a banana or power bar) so there’s no last-minute running around the kitchen. The faster I can get ready and out the door, the less sleep I have to miss out on.

Have a run buddy, preferably one who doesn’t sleep in the same bed or house as you. If I know a friend across town is waking up to meet me somewhere for a run, it’s a lot harder for me to back out last minute or hit the snooze button one too many times. Having a running partner is great for accountability, but it also just makes the run more fun!


Bribe yourself. I frequently bribe myself to get out of bed, as in—“If I wake up early to run today, I’ll let myself take a nap after work, have an extra-big soda at lunch, etc.” My newest bribe is especially effective: No coffee unless I woke up early to workout. So on days I don't run, I don’t drink coffee in the morning. It makes the reward that much more special on the days I do. 


Get some inspiration: I love a good running quote. Here are a few that come to mind:


“Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, “Are you going to be a wimp, or are you going to be strong today?” —Peter Maher, two-time Olympic marathoner


“Running is not just exercise. It’s not just achievement. It’s a daily discipline that has nothing to do with speed, weight, social status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, where you live, what car your drive or whether anyone anywhere loves you. It’s about the slow and painful process of being the best you can be. That’s why the first step out the door is always so hard. That’s when we choose between settling for average and being a superhero version of ourselves.” —Martin Dugard, To Be a Runner


Turn up the music: I know, I know, we’ve already discussed the running with music debate. But even if you’re not listening to music while you run, you can still turn on some upbeat jams while you’re throwing on your gear at home, or in the car if you’re driving to your running location. I turn on songs that make me want to dance. They’re the best at waking me up.


Break up the distance: It’s doubtful you’re going to fit in more than six miles in daylight before or after regular working hours. I save my long runs for the weekend to avoid this problem. For longer mid-week runs, I’ll do half in the morning, half in the evening. For example: three miles in the morning before work, three miles right after work make for six miles all while the sun is up.


If you try all these tips and you still can’t wake up early to run, maybe it’s time to invest in a headlamp and some reflective gear and just get used to running in the dark.