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My {not-so-secret} Key to Morning Runs

Remember last summer when I talked about hating morning running and then made a big public commitment to actually try it out? Well, that didn’t exactly last long.

I half-heartedly slogged through a couple of weeks of AM runs, but never actually stuck with it. Because honestly, even though the feeling after the run was awesome, the way I felt during it was pretty miserable. I hated feeling like I was sleep-running, hated the stiffness in my legs, and I hated how slow I felt. But most of all – I just wasn’t into it. Even though it was unbearably hot in the afternoons, I still found that I’d rather run after work than get up and run first thing in the morning. Despite my declaration that I was going to give morning running its fair shot, my motivation was lacking. 

At the time I was convinced that anyone who told me they actually liked running before work was on drugs must suffer from an acute case of Post-Exercise Amnesia. This condition, brought on by the extreme runner’s high one gets after completing said morning run, causes the exerciser to forget all about the pain and discomfort of the run itself.

I couldn’t deny that the feeling I got after running in the morning was great. I was so happy to have my run out of the way early, and that was almost enough to make me forget about how much I actually hated running at that time of day. Almost. But not quite.

So after a few weeks of sporadic morning runs, I joined a gym and decided I’d rather escape the heat on a treadmill than in the early hours of the morning. I figured I was just meant to be an afternoon runner, and was content to go on my merry evening-running way.

But then two things happened:

1.) I lost my afternoon-run motivation.

I don’t know how or why, but somewhere between Christmas 2011 and the start of 2012, my motivation to run in the evening all but disappeared. And over the last couple of weeks, it has been a struggle to get myself out the door after work. Even the fact that it is slowly getting lighter in the evenings hasn’t been enough to get my evening-run spark back.

2.) EC gave me an automatic coffee-maker.

An automatic programmable coffee-maker. Which means a nice, fresh pot of coffee waiting for me the instant I wake up.


I love my French press, but the coffee wasn’t exactly making itself.

It was time for an intervention. I needed to bring morning runs into my life once again. The only difference was – this time I didn’t feel forced into running in the mornings as the only way to escape the weather. I actually wanted to become a morning runner. Or at least try.

So last night, I programmed the coffee-maker and set the alarm. When it went off this morning, I got out of bed right away, drank my coffee, ate a little snack and got myself out the door.

The beginning of the run was tough. My legs were stiff and tired, and I still didn’t feel completely awake. But as the miles went on, a weird thing happened. I was actually starting to enjoy myself.

It may have been the caffeine coursing through my veins.

Or the fact that I had been sick and hadn’t run in two days.

Or it could have even been the awesome running-related news I received last night that will shape my entire running season (more on that later!).

But whatever the reason, this morning’s run was not only the best morning run I’ve ever had, it was best run I’ve had in weeks! I was on top of the world and felt like I could run forever. For the first time in my life, I was that annoying, “I know it’s early but I’m high on life!!” type of runner that you scowl at as you pass.

I know it’s way too early to say that I’ve become a morning-run-believer and will be sticking to pre-work runs from here on out. And I can’t say that I’ll never run in the afternoon again. But I can say that I’ve finally discovered the {not-so-secret} key to sucessful morning runs: the right motivation, and a little bit of caffeine.

And the best part? I was home early enough to actually make a real dinner. Which was a nice break from my usual weekday gourmet feasts.

weekday dinnerVeggie sausages + Vermont PB. Though not together. And this is why I’m not a food blogger…

I can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow.

32 Responses to My {not-so-secret} Key to Morning Runs

  1. Oh I hear you, Lauren. Am not a morning runner. But I am married to one. Kate pops out of bed before the alarm at about 4:25am and chirps, “Time to run!”

    If I can’t immediately think of a reason not to run, I’m stuck with whining and grumbling while lounging in bed for another ten minutes watching her get ready. Perhaps caffeine waiting for me is the answer. We do french press as well and that’s not happening “that” early.

    I do have to say that after the first two or three miles I love it, but that’s a really tough first two miles. Not fun at all.


    PS, we love those Field Roast dogs!

    • Yikes! I am very impressed by that. When I say “morning runs,” I mean 6/6:30 – before 5:00am is serious!

      And the Field Roast dogs are my favorite! I just wish there was someplace near me that sold them other than WF.

  2. Congrats on your morning run!

  3. I am curious about the news!!!!!!!!!
    Krissy @ Shiawase Life´s last post ..Tune-in Tuesday!

  4. I would like morning runs, if I got to bed earlier. But going to bed after 2AM does not translate well to waking up at 6AM for a morning run.

    I only run in the morning on the weekends. What did you eat before you left? I am never sure what will digest well before I run.
    Rena @ milehogger.blogspot.com´s last post ..Weekend Revelation

    • The “what to eat” part is still tough for me. If I’m not running far, I don’t need to eat much – but I do feel gross drinking coffee on an empty stomach. The tough part is eating enough to give me energy but not too much that I can still easily digest it. On the weekends it’s easier because I have more time to digest. The last couple of days I’ve been experimenting. I just had a few handfuls of dry cereal today and that worked well. It felt much lighter in my stomach than toast with PB.

      • I have the same problem – figuring out what to eat before a morning run – I hate eating right when I wake up. Lately I’ve been doing 6 miles, and that on an empty stomach makes for a sluggish start to the day. I actually found a pinch of Chia Seeds in water was a nice compromise. Weird texture, but it seems to work well.

  5. I think you just motivated me to a try a morning run tomorrow…thanks :)
    Lauren´s last post ..Super Bowl XLVI

  6. Look at you morning runner!!

    Caffeine definitely helps me get up and running — and I LOVE that feeling of “I am AWESOME” that I get for an entire day. It’s really what keeps me coming back for more!
    Michelle´s last post ..Worth Smiling

  7. I’m always happy when I finish a run in the morning – it’s such a positive start to my day! But actually completing it is another story…I also feel like I’m tight and dragging when I first start running early in the AM. In the summer I’m much better at it, but winter is so hard for me. The caffeine definitely helps!
    Kara´s last post ..Tell Me a Little About Yourself!

  8. I LOVE my programmable coffee maker. It is a HUGE help in the AM with motivation!!!!!!!

  9. I need to become a morning runner bc I now TA two days a week in the evening and I have that pm motivation lag, too.

    Question – have you tried speed work or tempos in the am?
    Meggie´s last post ..Soul-Cycling My Way Into Poverty

    • Ugh. Yes. And honestly – that’s why I gave up morning runs last summer. Running easy is one thing, but it’s SO HARD to get my legs moving fast that early (and also tough to know what to eat beforehand). I’ve done mile repeats and a couple tempos and the effort just feels so much harder. I think I’ll always prefer doing speed work in the afternoon/evening when I’ve had all day to stretch out/eat/etc. …even if it also means that I have all day to dread them! 😉

  10. I actually kind of like the sleep running aspect. I’m still pretty relaxed, nothing from work has ruined my day yet, and my mind takes a long time to figure out how far I plan on running. Works for me :)

    • Very true! And I guess I should re-phrase that. I do like it sometimes…if I’m just going for a relaxing run. The struggle comes when I’m supposed to be doing some sort of speed work or faster paced run. I feel like I have to fight my body the entire way, because all I want to do is just take it easy.

  11. hooray for morning runs! I’m a huge fan. This morning that was affirmed as I ran through CP and watched the most beautiful orangey pink sunrise over the east side. There’s nothing like it! Best start to the day, ever. Glad you’re getting into a.m. runs!! And coffee definitely makes it easier :)
    Kelly´s last post ..Weekly recap & racing flats

    • You and Ali are my morning run inspiration! I can’t say I will ever love it as much as you do, but I do try to channel some of your enthusiasm for them. 😉

  12. Coffee is the only thing that will help me run in the mornings!! :) When i was running in the mornings, I would do the same thing with the automatic timer. Good advice!
    Julie´s last post ..WIAW [What I Ate Wednesday]: 2.8.2012

  13. I have learned to become a morning runner. I HAVE to have my coffee programmed before bed and am ready for my run by 6 a.m. I love the feeling of getting home from work later in the day and having the evening to cook dinner, read, catch up on blogs, etc. I

    I am excited to hear about the new running news : )
    Jenn´s last post ..I AM Me!

  14. I wish I got to run in the mornings more often, but the hubs leaves for work too early for me to get out and back (no one to watch the kids). I hear you on being more stiff in the morning, but there is nothing like being able to just come home and relax after work! :-)
    Jessica M´s last post ..5 Ways to Make Your Running Shoes Last Longer

  15. Big . . .big fan of the morning run. Love it! I also enjoy being way too chipper for my co-workers on days that I have run before work. I am becoming a fan of the lunch hour run as well, but that can only last until mid to late spring or I’ll not be allowed back into the office.

    I hope you keep enjoying the morning runs!
    Greg´s last post ..Bad Miami Romance Has Me Looking for Love in Pittsburgh

  16. Unfortunately, when you live in Texas, before 5:30am weekend morning long runs are almost required to survive. Otherwise it gets too hot!
    I am a morning runner for sure- unfortunately, my job does not allow me to run in the morning- have to get to the office by 6:30am. So week night runs, and weekend morning runs for me 😉

  17. Oh goodness if it wasn’t for programmable coffee makers I would never run in the morning!

  18. I love my automatic coffee maker! I would be lying if I said anything other than coffee is gets me out of bed for a morning run…

    And those field roast vegan sausages are actually very delicious…I used them in a stirfry awhile ago and no one could tell that they weren’t actual sausage!
    Megan (The Runner’s Kitchen)´s last post ..Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

  19. I am more naturally an evening runner, but I’ve had various stints of working out in the morning. I will say, when it comes to running in the morning, it is definitely easier in the summertime. Especially in the DC area when you KNOW you’ll face the heat/humidity in the evenings. I’m a “seasonal” morning runner :)
    Brigid´s last post ..Rock ‘n Roll USA Logistics

  20. I was only a morning runner when I was in high school and summer practices started at 6am…and I remember liking those, but not by choice!

    I find I enjoy my runs much more if my legs are more awake, and doing speed work in the morning NEVER sounds like a good idea. It’s hard enough as it is, I can’t imagine trying to get my legs to drop six minute mile pace that early!

    Coffee is definitely key to life…automatic coffee makers are awesome little inventions.

    I’m still curious about what your news is!!
    Susan´s last post ..i think i’m wearing my grumpy pants

  21. I stopped running in the morning when I got chased by a dog. But your part about your afternoon running mojo is running true for me right now! Maybe a change up to a morning run is what I need!
    KerriAnn´s last post ..Lost.

  22. Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family that’s native to Mexico and Guatemala, and history suggests it was a very important food crop for the Aztecs. It’s remained in regular use in its native countries, but was largely unknown in North America until researcher Wayne Coates began studying chia as an alternative crop for farmers in northern Argentina about 29 years ago..**-

    Freshest posting on our personal blog site http://healthmedicinejournal.com/

  23. I love this! I so want to be a morning runner. Especially in the summer time. Here is SW Missouri it gets so hot and humid in the summer!
    Shelly´s last post ..Morning Runs- How I Hate You

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