9 Tips to Help You Become a Morning Runner

February 28, 2024

Nick Hancock
man running in the morning through a park

For many runners, getting up early to lace up their shoes before sunrise is a rewarding yet challenging routine. Becoming a morning runner comes with plenty of convincing benefits - beating the afternoon heat, getting those feel-good endorphins flowing to start your day on the right foot, and even fitting in your workout before your daily schedule gets too hectic.

However, rolling out of bed when it’s still dark outside can seem daunting if you have always been an evening runner or have struggled with establishing an early morning exercise regimen. The good news is that with some planning, commitment, and smart strategies, developing an effective morning running routine is possible.

In this post, I provide 9 running coach-approved tips to help you successfully transform into a morning runner and start reaping the rewards of an early morning run. From optimizing your sleep habits to laying out gear beforehand, these actionable pieces of advice will have you lacing up your shoes before sunrise. Let’s get started!

1. Gradually Adjust Your Sleep Schedule

When aiming to become a morning runner, one of the key steps is slowly adapting your sleep patterns so you can wake up refreshed and ready to lace up.

It's crucial not to attempt getting up at 5 AM right away if you've always woken up at 7 AM - a sudden, drastic change can shock your body's natural rhythms and leave you exhausted. Instead, incrementally shift your bedtime 15-20 minutes earlier each night over the course of a few weeks. Going to bed earlier will make it easier to wake up feeling refreshed and energized, ready to tackle your morning run. So if you usually hit the sheets at 11 PM, start winding down by 10:45 PM for a few days instead. Then move to 10:30 PM the following week, and so on.

Allow your body clock to steadily slide earlier through gradual daily shifts rather than one overnight leap. If you have trouble falling asleep earlier, try relaxation techniques, limiting electronics, or natural sleep aids. Pair this approach with positive sleep hygiene habits like limiting electronics usage before bed. With consistency, you'll adapt and be able to spring out of bed at sunrise!

A person tying a shoelace, getting ready for jogging.

2. Prepare Your Gear the Night Before

To streamline your early wake-up calls for morning runs, take time the evening prior to prepare your gear. Lay out your workout clothes, running shoes, hat/headband, and any other outfit items you’ll wear during your morning session.

Pack your phone, headphones, tracker, or any other devices into your running belt or armband so they’ll be ready to grab and go. Having your outfit and electronics prepped saves you precious minutes in the morning when every second counts. Additionally, having one less thing to think about or search for when you’re grainy-eyed and groggy helps reduce anxiety.

Mentally ticking “prep running gear” off of your nighttime checklist also reinforces your commitment to wake up, promoting follow-through. So take five minutes after brushing your teeth to lay everything out, and enjoy a streamlined start to your sunrise runs!

3. Find a Running Buddy

While solo running allows for quiet introspection, having a partner can motivate you to lace up your sneakers bright and early.

Identify a friend, significant other, or family member interested in being your running buddy and commit to meeting up for morning jogs. You'll be less tempted to hit snooze knowing someone is expecting you to show up. Arrange to meet at least 3 times a week and check in regarding your morning run plans the night before.

For accountability on days you can't link in-person, use running apps like Strava Beacon to share your routes and pacing in real-time.

Having someone join you on the running path or even virtually can uplift your mood and give your endorphins an extra boost. Over time, the camaraderie can solidify morning running into an unbreakable habit. Recruit your workout wingman and get ready to hit new motivational heights together before the sun comes up!

A couple running together early in the morning.

4. Create a Morning Routine

Establishing a steady morning routine is key to locking in an enjoyable sunrise jog and staying consistent. Block out time for essential activities to ease into your morning run and feel energized, like foam rolling tight muscles, hydrating with 16 oz of water, meditating to clear your mind, or fueling with the right pre-run foods.

Maintaining this steady sequence of events before lacing up forms habits that remind your body it's time to wake up and shoes it's time to hit the pavement. Additionally, having solid morning rituals leads to falling asleep earlier naturally as you unwind.

If you still struggle drifting off or have trouble dropping into deep sleep stages due to anxiety about waking up to run, leverage supplements like magnesium, meditation apps with bedtime stories, or journaling worries beforehand to rest more soundly. Consistent rituals set you up for morning running triumph.

5. Set Realistic Goals

When embracing a new dawn running routine, it’s vital to set achievable goals that steadily build your stamina over time rather than expecting to slay an hour-long route on your first try. Be compassionate with your body, especially if getting up an hour earlier leaves you more fatigued initially.

Start by committing to a 20-minute power walk or 1-mile jog 2-3 times a week upon rising. As this begins feeling easier, challenge yourself to add 5-10 minutes or an extra half mile to each workout until you reach your ideal distance and duration.

Recording stats like time, mileage, and pace in a journal or fitness app tracks progress. Achieving your morning running objectives consistently breeds confidence to wake up earlier. Soon those short jaunts transform into synchronized morning workouts propelling you to perform your best every daybreak.

6. Focus on Nutrition and Hydration

Fueling up with a nutritious breakfast is vital preparation for an early morning run. Opt for easily digested foods that provide an optimal blend of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to power your workout, such as oatmeal topped with banana and almond butter or a veggie scramble with whole grain toast. Avoid running in the morning on an empty stomach to prevent fatigue or dizziness.

Stay hydrated before, during and after your sunrise sessions by sipping 16-24 oz of water. And consider investing in a comfortable, bounce-free hydration vest pack allowing you to effortlessly carry water as needed on longer early morning runs.

Remember to increase your calorie consumption to offset what you burned on your morning run. Proper nourishment reduces fatigue, cramps, and other undesirable side effects, ensuring your body can perform at its peak every time you rise and grind. Keep nutrition and hydration top of mind as you grow your early morning run routine.

7. Be Mindful of Safety

When you embrace becoming a morning runner, make sure to prioritize safety given low visibility and less populated routes at dawn. Protect yourself in dim conditions by wearing reflective clothing and flashing LED accessories so drivers can spot you.

Carry your charged cellphone to access maps if you lose your way and feel comfortable reporting any concerning activity. When running urban areas, stick to well-lit streets and consider a personal safety alarm on your wrist or waistband. For remote trails, share your planned route and estimated return time with someone beforehand.

Making small gear investments and remaining vigilantly aware of your surroundings helps keep you secure so you can fully reap the rewards of rising with the sun to log miles. With some preparation, you can run safely and confidently every daybreak.

A woman running on a road at sunset, showcasing her determination and passion for fitness.

8. Stay Motivated

As morning runners know, it’s challenging some days to pry yourself from the alluring temptation of your cozy bed before the sunrise. But having a battle plan ready to persevere can help transform even non-morning people into early risers pounding the pavement. Track your mileage and pace using fitness apps to quantify your progress.

Seeing consistent improvement motivates waking up early despite sleeping in sounding easier. Give yourself mini rewards for achieving weekly or monthly goals, like a gift card for coffee or new fitness gear. Recruit running buddies for mutual accountability and arrange weekend meetups as additional incentives.

Browse social media for running groups to find motivation and inspiration from fellow early morning runners. Lastly, list all the reasons an early bedtime and energetic morning run sets you up to win your busy days ahead, keeping that list handy for when hitting snooze feels sensible. With several go-to tricks, waking up motivated gets easier and easier!

9. Be Patient With Yourself

Pivoting from night owl to early bird happens gradually when adopting a sunrise running routine. Whether you set your alarm clock for an hour earlier or have always hit snooze 500 times, lean into self-compassion about building new rituals.

If exhaustion from an ambitious morning workout schedule leaves you struggling to fall asleep and revert to late nights, celebrate making any progress waking up before noon. Instead of quitting for the week after one missed run, get back with it the next day.

Remind yourself becoming a morning person requires commitment as the initial discomfort of abandoning your soft sheets transforms running at dawn into second nature. Cut yourself some slack for any backsliding while continuing to rise after setbacks.

Checking rigid expectations at the door and noting any small victories that edge you closer to your goals keeps your eyes on the horizon - both metaphorically and literally as the sun beams over it!

Woman jogging on path by water.


In summary, becoming an early morning runner allows you to tackle busy days fueled by sunshine and endorphins while avoiding midday heat and scheduling conflicts. By incrementally adjusting your sleep schedule, laying out pre-run gear the prior evening, finding accountability partners, following nourishing routines, setting realistic goals, and prioritizing safety, you can transform from night owl to productive lark.

While having the mental resolve on tough days demands patience and self-compassion, envisioning the growth you’ll achieve by sticking to your aims keeps motivation high.

If you're struggling to become a morning runner or want to take your early morning runs to the next level, consider seeking personalized support and expert guidance from a certified online running coach at Maximum Mileage Coaching. With custom drills and advice, a coach can help you overcome obstacles and achieve your goals.

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