Stacie asks: I’m just starting out, but I have already noticed that I have good run days and bad ones. And a lot of the bad runs come in the morning. Is there anything I can do to help ensure a good run when I have to get out early before work or on the weekend.
Every runner experiences good runs and bad runs, especially a newer runner. And if you are running at different times of day, you are dealing with different circumstances. We all have a body clock that contributes to the time of day we prefer to run. Some people naturally prefer the morning while others prefer running later in the day. Timing your runs with this natural body clock can be helpful.
However, if you are not naturally a morning runner it will benefit you to at least do some of your training in the morning if you plan to race in the morning. One thing to remember, though: Any run is better than no run at all. Even those run days where it feels very difficult or you don’t meet a goal, you are still out there doing it, and that is what running is all about.
While there are no guarantees for a good run every morning (or at any time of day to be honest), avoid these pitfalls so you can set yourself up for the best run possible.
YOU EAT LATE
Downing your dinner deep into the night, while sometimes your only option, practically ensures some form of GI issue on an early morning run. When you know the only run you can squeeze in the next day will be in those early hours, do your best to eat an easy-to-digest dinner as early in the evening as you can. And keep it simple, like choosing 3 ounces of a lean meat, some veggies, and quinoa.
YOU DON’T GET YOUR SLEEP
Sleep is vital—especially for athletes—so don’t negate its importance. The research done on sleep only heightens its significance. When you are grabbing your Zzzs it is when your body recovers from workouts, so think of sleep as part of your training plan or as a form of cross-training. When you are training for a big race and want your runs to count in the a.m., aim for the recommended eight hours a night.
YOU KEEP HITTING THE SNOOZE
This gets everyone’s day off on the wrong foot, and it could make you want to scrap your run for the day because you feel so behind. When you set your alarm clock each night, one of the best tips I know is to make sure that alarm is as far away from your bed as possible. This will make you get out of bed and get moving. If one alarm isn’t enough, set several. (Speed up your progress towards your weight-loss goals with Women's Health's Look Better Naked DVD.)
YOU TRY GETTING READY IN THE MORNING
No! This requires way too much thinking. Gather up your clothing and any gear you might need the night before and have it all laid out so you are ready to go when you rouse in the morning. Some runners even sleep in their running clothes so they can just roll out of bed. (You can decide on that one.)
YOU WING IT
I have found that the “I’ll see how I feel in the morning” attitude rarely works when striving to get out early. When you are getting your gear ready for the next day, plan out your run at the same time—get a good grasp on the intended distance, pace, and route so you can visualize the run the next day when you go to sleep.
YOU COMPLETELY SKIP BREAKFAST
Low blood sugar is a great way to trash your morning run. Blood sugar levels are at their lowest when we wake in the morning after having fasted during the night, so even a short run might result in blood sugar levels dropping below the desired level. Even a small prerun breakfast, like half of an energy bar, a banana, or toast with some peanut butter can save your run.
YOU GO OUT WAY TOO FAST
Always, always start your run with a warmup segment. Walk or run easy for five to 10 minutes and then gradually increase your run pace to the desired level if you need to go a little longer. Finishing a run feeling strong is also a huge boost mentally so that you will feel good all day long.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.