There is a lot of contention about the best time of day to exercise, and the debate is especially relevant to runners, most of whom have very specific goals attached to their jogging routine. Are early morning runs best? Here are a few things to consider.
Your reasons for running could revolve around losing weight, getting fit, or training for a race, just for example. Will early morning runs help you to reach your goals, or would you accomplish more by working out later in the day?
There seems to be a common belief that running on an empty stomach helps you to lose weight, but the truth is that the intensity of your workout, not the hour, are more important to your weight loss success. When you exercise before you eat in the morning, it could affect your energy and endurance, potentially reducing intensity level and impairing your ability to perform at peak levels (or ensure optimal results).
You could also end up losing muscle mass, which may not be your goal. If running early is your preference, however, you can combat such issues with a proper meal the night before (carb loading, for example) or a small snack before your morning jog.
This may seem like a silly question, since you can obviously force yourself to rise early and run if you're devoted to exercise before your workday begins. However, the benefits you gain from running depend on a variety of factors, and your energy and alertness are among them.
If you pop out of bed alert and raring to go before your alarm sounds each morning, then you're probably going to get a lot out of morning jogs. On the other hand, dragging yourself from under the covers and stumbling around while you're still half asleep is not likely to deliver the benefits or results you want when you run, especially if you're training for a race.
That said, if early morning hours are the only available time in your schedule to squeeze in a run, you might not have much choice in the matter. The good news is that you can find ways to prepare and optimize your exercise, whenever you happen to have time for it.
If you want to get the most from morning runs, hit the hay early to ensure you have a full eight hours for rest and recuperation beforehand. When your body receives adequate rest, you'll wake more quickly and enjoy more energy and alertness upon rising. If you're the type to hit the snooze button a few times, just make sure to give yourself extra time to account for this habit.
Most morning joggers don't want to eat before their run, and for good reason. A belly full of Corn Flakes or scrambled eggs is a recipe for disaster. Cramps, nausea, and the need for a restroom can really derail your run.
However, your body relies on food for energy, and a lack of fuel can leave you feeling sluggish and fatigued halfway through your jog. What's the solution for morning runners?
Your best bet is to eat a healthy, balanced, and filling meal the night before. Carbs and protein provide your body with slow-burning fuel. Adding them to your evening meal is the best way ensure energy during your morning run, and if you're a distance runner, you can always carry a power snack or sports drink for an energy boost midway through your routine.
Don't forget to hydrate before, during, and after your run, as well, since dehydration can be just as detrimental to performance as a lack of fuel.
If you love to watch the sun come up on your morning runs, it's important to remember that you can be hard to see in the tricky light of pre-dawn hours, or with the sun glaring on the horizon. Having the right running apparel will help to ensure that you're easy for drivers or cyclists to spot as you follow your running route.
Make sure to choose brightly-colored garments and choose apparel, shoes, and other gear that features reflective strips to make you more visible. Safety is paramount to productive morning runs.
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