Running Tips: How to Become a Morning Runner

It’s easy to believe all the people you know who are just getting back from their run as you stumble bleary-eyed to the coffee maker are born morning people. If you took an informal poll of the runners in your life, though, I think it would surprise to you to find out there are a lot of reluctant morning runners out there, getting their miles done before they even realize what they’re doing. It is possible to become a morning runner, even when every fiber of your being cries out when the alarm goes off in the early hours. (If you remember, the short answer to ‘When’s the best time to run?’ is ‘Whenever you can.’)

Running Tips - How to Become a Morning Runner. Even if you’re a night owl, it’s possible to become one of those people who runs early. Check out these 4 tips for getting your morning workout done before your body has a chance to realize it’s doing exercise. | runchat | healthy habits | fitness motivation |

This post is inspired by me needing to get my butt in gear and get back in a morning running routine. It’s been a long stretch of Fran working from home, being unemployed for a few months, then looking for a job (which he didn’t start until a month after accepting). Know what that meant for me? I could go running any old time I wanted. Afternoon nap time for the boys? No problem, Daddy was home. Early evening before dinner? He had it covered for me. Now, the harsh reality has come crashing back down on me and if I’m not out getting my run done early in the morning, it’s not going to happen. 

The one thing I have going for me is that I used to be exclusively a morning runner, way back when I had an office job, so I remember how good it feels to start the day early, get your workout done and have the whole day full of energy. I also remember from training for the marathon getting up at an unreasonable hour on a weekend to get my three or four hour long run done, wanting to be home for breakfast to squeeze in all the family time I could (and possibly assuage some of the mother runner guilt). So I know being a regular morning runner is possible. I know it’s a good thing. I know it will work perfectly for our new routine. But I still need my own running tips on how to become a morning runner! 😉

Running Tips - How to Become a Morning Runner. Even if you’re a night owl, it’s possible to become one of those people who runs early. Check out these 4 tips for getting your morning workout done before your body has a chance to realize it’s doing exercise. | runchat | healthy habits | fitness motivation |

Lay Out Your Gear and Have a Staging Area 

I know you’ve read the tip to lay out your gear the night before. And it works. You do not want to be looking for a pair of socks or your GPS watch in the early morning hours, when it’s dark (and way too early) and you’re cranky and tired. Setting everything up ready to go is key to making this a success. 

Now – you need to choose your ‘staging area’. (That’s an inside joke with my cousin Ann – she used to get annoyed if anyone would leave random items in her designated ‘staging area’ at the holidays. Hi Ann!) What do I mean by staging area? I mean, forget having all your running gear in your closet in your bedroom. My new staging area is a small cupboard by the front door. I have running clothes and workout gear in it, my shoes are tucked underneath and – importantly – it’s right next to an outlet where my Garmin charger is plugged in, so it’s there ready when I go out to run and I can put it back on the charger as soon as I walk in the door on my return. Just remember to replenish fresh clothes for the next time you head out. 

If you want to get crazy about it, you could even have a basket or hamper right there so you can literally strip off and head to the shower the moment you get in the front door.

Have Your Reward Ready

For me it’s a no-brainer, coffee. But I don’t want to come home and have to make it from scratch when both boys are going to be clamoring for my attention (and in Baby T’s case, for my boobs) and cut in on my already all-too-brief shower time. So I get it prepared the night before – grind the beans, fill the water -so all I need to do is hit the on button when I walk through the door. Back when I was training for my first marathon in 2010, the reward was getting warm bagels on my way home from my long run on a weekend (shout out to Bergen Bagels in Prospect Heights!) Whatever your reward, make it good enough that the thought of it will power you through the tough miles.

Know What You’re Doing

When you’re done with your big goal races for the year, but you still want to be out there running, it’s tempting to just go out for a run without any kind of training plan in mind. Even when you’re not officially in training for something, though, it’s so helpful from a motivation standpoint to have a plan to follow. It may be specific workouts, or your weekly plan could be a little looser, like a long run day, a speed-work day and a few easy runs sprinkled in. Knowing what you want to get done before you leave can motivate you to get out the door, especially if you’re the Type A kind of person who would not want to miss the chance to put a big check mark next to a completed workout. 

Set Yourself Up for Success the Night Before

I am a night owl. It is not conducive to morning running. If you’re reading this because you need to run early and really don’t want to, I feel your pain. If you’re a night owl like me, you can at least take steps to ensure you get out the door without feeling like a zombie in the morning.

First, quit the alcohol habit. I’m never going to tell you not to have a glass of wine with dinner (I’m not a monster), but if you want to be out for a run at 6am, finishing the bottle isn’t going to help. Eat a healthy dinner the night before – sometimes that helps me to wake up feeling like a superstar healthy-all-the-damn-time kind of person and motivates me. Drink lots of water before bed – if you’re up early to pee, you may as well run too, right? 😉 Set your alarm and then put your phone (or clock if you’re old school) out of reach. Try setting your bedtime a little earlier over time – 5 or 10 minutes earlier every night won’t seem like a big deal at the time, but it will add up to more rest time given a couple of weeks.

Running Tips - How to Become a Morning Runner. Even if you’re a night owl, it’s possible to become one of those people who runs early. Check out these 4 tips for getting your morning workout done before your body has a chance to realize it’s doing exercise. | runchat | healthy habits | fitness motivation |

These are the tips I’m relying on as I work my way back to a solid, regular morning training schedule. Especially now that the days are shorter, it gives me that much more incentive to head out before my day really begins. Sometimes those last minutes I have, when I’m stretching out, before heading inside to greet my boys and start the day, are like a mini-meditation for me, a time that’s just my own. I know that feeling, I remember that feeling and I’m looking forward to it being a regular part of my day once again.

Do you run early? What helps you?

If you’re a morning runner, what’s the biggest benefit for you?


  1. These tips are great! I always struggle when I “have” to run in the morning and the culprit is definitely being a night owl. Maybe when I start a real job after school I can finally make the change to run in the morning.
    Sam @ See Sam Run recently posted…Getting Reacquainted in the Kitchen (WIAW)My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Yup, the night owl thing is huge! So hard to shift the habit of staying up late! It’s still a constant struggle for me, too.

  2. This is something I desperately want to get better at! Right now it seems impossible while my baby is still nursing – I keep telling myself it will get “easier” to plan my own schedule once we’re out of the baby stage
    Joanna @Makingmine recently posted…november coffee chatMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Nursing makes it soooo hard, doesn’t it? You’re just about to head out and you hear *that* cry, the one that means ‘there is only one thing that’s going to make me stop crying right now.’

  3. OMG I love you and your images Carly! The struggle is so real with trying to get up early (earlier?) in the morning. I’m so trying to get to bed earlier but…there’s really no good reason for staying up! But I love your tips!! I’m determined to become a morning person again!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Hiking with Kids: 9 Tips to Make it Fun for the Whole FamilyMy Profile

  4. I’m definitely a morning runner…. the biggest benefit is that if I run in the morning, I’m in a good mood for the rest of the day…. I can handle whatever bad turn my day takes much better and with perspective. recently posted…CandyMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I heard your running schedule on Amanda’s podcast and once again I thought, ‘I have to get back into morning running more often.’ It’s such a struggle for me!

  5. If I had my way, I would run as soon as I wake up in the morning. But, since I have two beautiful children who need attention, food and clothing, I wait until they are on the bus and off to school. I can’t really explain why I love to wake-up early and run but it definitely helps to think about getting it DONE. You feel so great afterward and then have the rest of the day to get everything else accomplished without a workout looming over your head! Plus, you carry that feel good vibe (and possible soreness) with you as a reminder that you woke up and kicked ass!
    Allie recently posted…Why Every Runner Needs to Know About RAS #TheRunnersBrainMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Yes to all of this! I just have to get the boys on board for mama to sneak out early. Morning workouts always make me feel as if I have more hours in the day.

  6. I’m a morning runner and I often get up around 4:30 to get it done. So many times I want to turn off the alarm but the thing that gets me up and out is having friends to run with. Yesterday’s alarm was 4:15 and the temptation to stay in bed was ridiculous but knowing that my friends would be there and we’d spend the next couple of hours talking and laughing gave me the extra push to get up.
    Char recently posted…When The Universe Speaks …My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      If you could see my face after reading your comment, you’d laugh. It was a kind of shocked, awed horror and respect. Holy wow, woman!! That is EARLY.

  7. My runs/workouts have to be done in the morning or they won’t every happen, but this is not by choice. After my first son was born it took a while to figure out a system that worked, and I’m not a night owl so I quickly learned that if I didn’t workout in the morning it didn’t happen, I was just too darn tired at night. Now that we’ve got two kids (8 months in with the baby and still nursing so I feel your pain), I actually get up a little bit earlier to pump so it’s more comfortable. It took some time, but my husband jumped on board this summer with morning workouts/runs too, which totally surprised me because he is not a morning person at all!

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Our babies are so close in age! My little one just turned 8 months today. The nursing is a constant workaround – it’s similar to nap time in that they can be on a totally regular schedule and then as soon as you need/want to get something done, their schedule changes so you can’t. Right??

  8. You have defiantly motivated me! I use to walk with a friend but things started coming up and we stopped. I felt so much better when I did work out in the mornings. I am a morning person, but now the only thing is a would have to do this by myself and it is dark, hate to admit it but kinda scared…LOL I use to get up at 345 and meet by 4 then done by 430, have to leave the house by 6. I am a single mom of two 12 and 10. I do get a lot of help from them, but my biggest thing really is the darkness?? Any suggestions?

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      So funny you should write this comment today, Dawn! I just finished reading today’s post on the Happy Fit Mama blog, which is tips on running early when it’s dark outside! Go check it out, Angela has lots of good info. (The site is Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

  9. Do you eat anything prior to a morning run?

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Depends on how early it is! If it’s super early I usually don’t, only because I need a little time to digest before running. If it’s a long run, I would definitely take some fuel with me though and make sure I eat something as soon as I get home, not wait for a shower or anything. But if possible, if you’re heading out at 6:30, say, you could definitely have a banana or something easily digestible at 6 and give yourself a little time to digest while you get ready. It’s something you should experiment with – some people are able to run on an empty stomach with no problem, for others it’s almost impossible.

  10. These tips are great!
    Marsha @embroideryblog recently posted…Why Should We Try To Embroider?My Profile

  11. Good tips! They are actually useful for a runner as mine. I like…


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