Tips To Getting Through Those Cold, Early Morning Runs
Winter is coming. And for many runners, we are already experiencing the cold weather when going for an early morning run. With the sun still sound asleep, it is very much still dark out when we open our eyes. The darkness combined with the cold is the perfect recipe to keep us in our beds, baking in the warmth of our blankets. And while we know getting out of bed is the biggest battle, there are tips to help actually get through those cold, early morning runs.
It’s so much easier to hit that snooze button when the sun isn’t up and you can already tell it’s going to be a chilly morning. To help make rising and grinding early make the proper preparations the night before. Treat this run as if it were a race. Set out clothes, sneakers and any running accessories needed like a Garmin and headphones.
Then make sure to get a good night sleep. Having enough rest helps to wake up on time and ready to tackle the day—and the run.
Also thinking about the run as a race day helps to set the mental precedent in a positive tone. It gets the runner excited to get up and get to that course. It’s a good idea to invite a running buddy for the early morning run since it’s easier to decide to sleep in last minute. Knowing someone is also waking up and meeting the runner makes a huge difference.
Dressed For The Occasion
Once the temperatures hit 40 degrees F and lower, it’s time to layer up. This includes a long sleeve moisture wicking shirt with a vest or running jacket or pullover sweater. Long pants are the safe choice, but many can still wear capris. Wear a hat. The colder it gets, the more layers needed like a shirt, long sleeves, and vest. A headband to keep the ears warm is best in 30-degree weather compares to a ball cap. These colder temps mean also wearing thin, windproof gloves.
Once winter comes, pull out the thicker mittens, merino wool hat and socks, a neck gaiter and fleece lined clothes.
It’s colder in the early morning hours, but once the sun comes up it does warm up. Especially once the run has begun. Don’t overdress on a brisk morning as if it were the dead of winter, but don’t underdress either.
Dark To Light
It can be very hard to get out of bed, but once the runner is up and out starting a run first thing in the morning sets the tone for the entire day. Rising early becomes a habit over time, just set that alarm clock and stay committed to actually getting out the door. Many find that they prefer to get their run done early in the morning with the rising sun to “get it over with.” This is especially so for long distance runners. Often our routes are empty and quiet until we are the way back and runners are just starting. It feels good at this moment to already be done while most people are just waking up.
But the main thing to keep in mind is that the runner might very well be running when it is still dark out. If this is the case, choose a well-lit route. Carry and wear reflective gear so you are visible to cars. Invest in a headlamp. Run with others for safety.
Another good tip is to choose the right time when it goes from dark to light outside. This means around 6:45 a.m. for some. Around this time means they are getting an early start but will be running in the light.
Getting Through The Long Run
Once we show up on the trails, park or whatever course for the run, it can be hard to shake the chill from our bones. The most important thing to do is warm up to get the blood flowing. Squat, do butt kicks, stretch and jump. Now that the body is warmed up, it can start the run. The cold air might actually feel refreshing in breathe in, just start off slow and then get into that comfortable pace for that long run. Give the muscles time to warm up.
The benefits of a long run mean the runner is going past different scenery depending on their course. This could be a neighborhood lined with yellow leaved trees in the fall to the farms where horses graze. Take everything in and enjoy nature. Once the winter comes, the scene begins to look bare. While there is still beauty in a fresh dusting of snow, enjoy those brisk early morning runs before things get freezing and icy.
When things get tough during the long run, talk to yourself and repeat those mantras. Remember to dig deep now to be done for the rest of the day. Tell yourself you didn’t wake up early and put in all this work to quit now.
Other Tips For Morning Runs
One word: coffee. Many run on a cup of coffee in order to start their day. Wake up a little earlier in order to have a cup to wake up before heading out. Keep in mind that some don’t do well with drinking a cup of Joe and running because of digestion issues.
Others might just need a glass of water to get their system going. Then there are some who need a small bite to eat like a piece of toast with nut butter to fuel up before that long run.
Keep in mind that it can be hard to get to that early morning run, in the beginning, so don’t think you can’t become an early morning runner. Set multiple alarms in case of accidentally snoozing one while still asleep. Give it a few tries before giving up on rising earlier. It does get easier the more it is a habit.
Find ways to look forward to the run like thinking about joining friends on the trail or of getting the run completed to be able to hang out with friends and run errands afterward.
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