The clocks have gone back. Mornings are even darker than they were before. The alarm rings. Groggy eyed, you moan and switch the damn thing off. You stare into the darkness outside wondering if it’s time to do one of those winter morning runs you planned on doing several days ago, but you’ve been procrastinating. It must be like 3 am right? Surely you can lie in a bit longer, but no it’s 6 am.
How are you going to get out of bed and squeeze in that morning run you originally planned to do?
Everyone used to doing morning runs in the Summer knows the feeling. When the dark winter months come it becomes harder to get out of bed and do the runs you planned to do before work. But just because it’s darker that doesn’t mean you should stop doing your winter morning runs. Here are some tips to get yourself out of bed and log those miles.
#1 – Sleep Well
This one may seem pretty obvious, but it is definitely an easy tip to neglect. Your body like patterns and routine. To optimise your body’s sleep clock you should aim to get to sleep at the same time each night giving yourself at least 7 hours, preferably 8 hours to sleep before having to get up for your winter morning runs.
Tips to help improve your sleep quality include:
- Avoiding caffeine or alcohol after midday (caffeine has a half-life of 5.7 hours so it can stay in your system for a long time before its effects fully diminish).
- Reducing the use of electronic devices an hour or two before bed. Alternative solutions include using a blue light filter on your devices as blue light has been shown to shift your circadian rhythms and disrupt the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
- Start to dim your lights as bedtime approaches. This tip links to the previous one in that bright lights can disrupt your sleep patterns and circadian rhythms.
- Avoid naps in the afternoon after 3 pm as this may make it harder to fall asleep.
- Don’t do high intensity workouts late in the evening as this may disrupt sleep hormones.
- Eat a lighter dinner or eat dinner earlier so food isn’t sitting in your stomach while you sleep.
- Create a nighttime routine to unwind before bed. This may involve meditation, a hot bath or maybe some gentle foam rolling!
#2 – Prepare Your Running Gear
Having your running gear beside your bed at the ready can definitely help to get you in the mindset to run in the morning. The clothes are there – you just need to get changed! For those who find this difficult, you could even sleep in your running clothes (hey, running clothes are comfortable!) to help yourself get out of the door.
You could even check the weather forecast for the morning the night before as morning weather often tends to be more unpredictable so you have the appropriate clothes for whatever the weather brings.
#3 – Use a Dawn Simulator Alarm
So now that it’s pitch black outside, there’s no Sun to break through your blinds and wake you early morning. The potential solution to this is a dawn simulator alarm. During the winter months when it is dark your body will produce more melatonin (sleep hormone) than serotonin (the feel-good hormone). When light is present, more serotonin is produced which is why you will usually awake more often than not in the Summer feeling refreshed and alert compared to Winter months.
Dawn simulator alarms are lamps that aim to simulate this by producing a little light about half an hour before you plan to wake up with the brightness of the lamp so that when it is time to wake up you should be able to rise from your slumber. If the light doesn’t do the trick, then the alarm should do it.
In addition, by waking your body in a more ‘natural’ way, sleep quality should improve and you will wake up feeling more energised!
#4 – Use an Alarm that makes you Get Up
Whilst I would say a dawn simulator alarm would be ideal, not many of us have one and the most practical alarm is our phones. So, let’s take advantage of this and place your phone out of arms reach so you physically have to get out of bed to turn it off.
Hopefully, by the time you’re out of bed, you might be more willing to do your winter morning run.
#5 – Wear Reflective Gear
Wearing reflective, luminous clothes when running in the dark makes it easier for road users or anyone, in fact, to see you coming during winter morning runs. This can help you feel safer when doing runs which involve crossing roads or running on pavement and protect you from potential accidents.
#6 – Use a Headtorch during Winter Morning Runs
Depending on where you live and where you run, it may make you feel more comfortable to bring a head torch on your run to light the path ahead. This will help you to avoid any rocks or branches that may lie on the ground and allow you to better see anything coming your way and help you to navigate throughout your run.
If a headtorch isn’t to your liking, you can always use mini clip-on lights which you attach to your clothing or gloves, if the weather is cold enough to wear gloves during your winter morning runs.
#7 – Find a Running Buddy
I know how difficult it can be to find a running buddy who is willing to run at a similar pace to your own. Training schedules can easily clash and it can be hard. However, if you can find someone prepared to complete winter morning runs with you, then it can make training during this time of year a lot easier.
#8 – Have a Goal for your Winter Morning Runs
Before you go to bed the previous night, have an idea what you want to do for your run the next morning. You don’t necessarily have to do what you planned if circumstances change, for example, you wake up late. However, it helps to create that mindset of having a task or job to do in the morning when you wake up. It could be as simple as trying to cover a certain distance over the week for your winter morning runs.
#9 – Don’t Snooze (then you lose)
If you hit snooze and fall back asleep, then you will most likely fall into a deeper sleep cycle making it even harder to wake up later. This can often lead to feeling even groggier when you wake up despite having more sleep.
#10 – Have your Coffee at the Ready
Maybe it’s coffee that really perks you up in the morning. If so, and that’s what you need, make your coffee in the morning to help get you ready to crush your winter morning runs.
#11 – Find a Running Loop
Finding a running loop you can do during winter morning runs can be notoriously boring, but ultimately will help to keep you safe. By using a shorter loop, if you happen to get injured or have an accident, you will always be close to home. Alternatively, you can find and create larger running loops, lit by lamps along roads to spice up your runs a bit more whilst helping to keep you visible and safe.
Have you managed to get out for winter morning runs? Did I miss any tips? Let me know down below!