Last Updated: December 25th, 2020
Yesterday, I got up at 4 am. Today at 7 am. I’m really irritated with myself.
Can’t I ever be disciplined…What is wrong with me? Why running is so difficult for me in the morning…
Only if, I could make myself more disciplined…
Is this you?
Well, you are not alone…and don’t worry we will get you through this with concrete steps, tips, and some precautions.
But before that let’s find out why you should be running at 4 am in the morning?
Why you should be running at 4 am in the morning?
You should be running at 4 am in the morning because it will help to stick to your exercise commitment better as you will not be pressed for time due to other engagements. Also, you will have a significant energy and stamina boost from your morning run. The environment is cool and nature will be at its freshest. Also, there will be only joggers or morning walkers like you around and you will not get self-conscious while running.
How to motivate yourself to go running in the morning?
Each one of them is focused on reducing the number of decisions that you have to make in the morning.
They will make this entire motivational process automatic.
Don’t break the chain – This is an easy but effective technique to keep you motivated to run early in the morning.
You would need:
- A calendar (Get one of those minimalist ones. Something like this. This will keep you focused and will keep your progress visible. Also, since you will be putting pen to paper, your memory will get an additional set of training. This will help in faster habit formation.)
- A pen of your choice. (Make sure the color is visible from a distance)
You will mark the days you run with a tick (✔) and the days you run with a cross (❌).
Goal: You will not break the chain of ticks.
Now when to fill up the calendar?
The best time will be immediately after you finish your workout.
What should you put in the calendar on rest days?
Well, put a tick.
Because you adhere to your workout schedule.
For example: If you run for 3 days a week, 2 days of strength training, and 2 rest days, then all these will be marked with a tick since you followed your routine.
However, put cross when you divulge from your routine.
Keep all your running gears in a visible location – In the morning your willpower is at the weakest.
You are groggy and deciding what to wear will make you go back to sleep immediately.
So, if you really want to go out for a run in the morning, keep all your favorite running gears in a place where you can see them just after getting up.
This way you will be spared a lot of decision-making, early in the morning and you will increase your chances for a morning run many times.
Make it attractive – This technique will be very useful if you are just starting to form a habit.
You tie your run with something you like to do.
It can be anything, like:
- Visiting the nearby pet store.
- Listening to a new audiobook.
- Visiting the joggers’ track.
- Or eating that muffin (Not every day of course. But once in a while, you know…I mean…well we are just humans…)
It can be absolutely anything. But make sure that, you love to do it.
Why will it work?
After a couple of times, your brain will crave this dopamine rush after your workout.
Also, it will start craving in anticipation.
However, just stick to one rule: You will not give yourself this treat until you have run.
And Voila! suddenly you have a new shiny habit of running at 4 am in the morning.
Get an annoying alarm clock and keep it in your bathroom – This may not be the most genius idea but it works.
Most of us stay in a family setup or with some friends or roommates.
This will work even if you are staying alone.
Get a crazy loud alarm clock and put it in your bathroom.
You read it right. Keep it in your bathroom.
Since the sound is very loud, you will be scared that you will wake others up.
You will sprint to your bathroom to shut it off.
Now you are already outside your bed and in your bathroom.
You shut off the alarm and you will immediately see that your toothbrush and toothpaste at its side.
Now, you brush your teeth and become fully awake.
It’s easy to head out of the door now as your running shoes are waiting in front of you.
How to get in the habit of running in the morning?
Habit-forming is not as difficult as you think.
Most of the time we rely too much on our will power and end up failing.
Because you have only a very limited amount of will power and early morning when you are getting up from sleep, it may not be best to rely on will power.
Instead, you should focus on making your habits automatic.
Here are a couple of ways to do that:
Tune your body with your alarm clock – This is another way other than the bathroom technique that you can use your alarm.
This is getting your body conditioned to wake up as soon as your alarm goes off.
What you should do?
During the day when you are wide awake, set up your alarm.
Pull the curtains of your bedroom and go to sleep on your bed.
Now, wait till the alarm goes off.
Once it goes off, you stretch yourself as if you are getting up from sleep.
Do this couple of times a day for a couple of weeks.
What will happen?
Your body will get accustomed to getting up when your alarm goes off.
This way, getting up will become more automatic.
And forming this habit will be very easy.
Pillow talk – Well, I mean literally…Talk with your pillow.
Before you go to sleep, tell your pillow to wake you up at 4 am or earlier.
Now don’t think that I’m crazy…
I did this experiment on my own…
It is more like you are programming your subconscious to wake you up at that godforsaken hour of the day.
You can do this with any of the inanimate objects around you.
Try this and thank me later 😉
This is by far the best habit-building book that I’ve read. (I have a bad habit of reading anything and everything I can get my hands on.)
He gives you a step by step plan to form even the most difficult habits and will not keep you guessing like the other books.
Below what I’ve mentioned is one of the techniques that I’ve learned from this book. There are many other such simple techniques that can help you to build good or break bad habits successfully.
What you need to do is, write down where you will be at 4 am the next day and what you will be doing.
It can be something like,
I’ll be running on the running track behind my apartment complex at 4 am in the morning.
The format goes something like I’ll be [DOING SOMETHING] at [LOCATION] at [TIME].
This also reduces your mind friction and will program your subconscious to act.
A small change at a time – Well, this is the most obvious thing to do, but we generally tend to not be satisfied with the output.
What am I talking about?
Well, we try to get up by 4 am and fail when we generally are getting up at 8 am.
Then we get utterly disappointed and we end up going back to our old habit.
Instead, do this.
If you are getting up by 8 am, try to find the root cause.
Most of us will think we are lazy, but we are not.
Really…take a look at your daily schedule and you will understand what I mean…
If you can identify the root cause, you can try to solve the problem.
Let’s say you go to bed late at night…
Now, why is that?
Maybe you come back from the office late…
Maybe you go to office late…
You have to take care of the family first…
You see… you will be able to see the whole picture.
No, you are not lazy, you have to just make some adjustments…
If your entire family is dependent on you…you may find it difficult to do it without causing havoc in their lives…
What you should do?
Focus on getting up by 15 min earlier…
For that, you have to sleep early as well…
Try to find out the little adjustments that you need to do with your tasks so that you can go back to bed 15 min early.
This will make your family adjust gradually without making them go through a crisis.
Keep repeating the process until you have reached your desired sleep and waking-up time.
This will help you get up fresh and you will find it comparatively easier to stick to your 4 am running habit.
How to start running in the morning for beginners?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not discouraging you…
It is just a matter of fact and here are the reasons:
- It will be shocking for your body and mind to get up at 4 am. (Most of us get up by 7 AM)
- You did not change your nighttime routine. (Maybe you go to bed by 12:00 AM)
- You are not taking sufficient rest.
- You are a habitual late riser and have been one since childhood.
- Exercise is important, but you think you are not cut out for it.
- You don’t want to invest in a quality running shoe although very affordable and your existing shoes hurt when you run. (You think why invest when in any case you will not keep going).
Well, don’t get discouraged as I’m stating facts…this is how I was when I started running.
I started, I quitted, I restarted, I re-quitted until I changed the entire dynamics by gradual adjustments.
As a beginner, I invested in quality but affordable running shoes (This was my commitment to the process).
I had some experience with running shoes as I’ve been an athlete in my early days at school, so for me, the selection was easy.
Also, if you want some more options, here is the entire list of affordable and beginner-friendly running shoes.
Once you have got that out of your way, it’s time to start running…
Here is a simple plan to get up in the morning…
- Remember, if you are getting up early, you have to sleep early. (Non-negotiable).
- Start by waking up early by 10 min.
- Next, immediately change into your running gears.
- Now head out the door.
- After a week or so, change your wake up time by 10 more mins.
- Keep repeating it until you can get up at 4 am.
- You should not waste time or think…else you will not be able to head out for running.
However, you may face another challenge.
You may become self-conscious to run in front of others.
I’ve covered all the tips and tricks to deal with it in detail…however, you still need a plan to tackle the initial days.
- What you can do is follow the above routine, however, don’t go out just yet or you can just go out for a walk.
- Keep walking until you are comfortable.
- Once you reach 6 am-ish, you should start running.
- At that time, the number of people on the streets is less.
- You will not be feeling conscious any more.
Why is it harder to run in the morning?
Aha! million dollar question…
Imagine this…it’s a cold winter morning…the wind is chilly outside…
You are under your warm cozy blanket…
You have to go out for a run…
Now, let me ask you this…which one is hard to do?
Going for a run…isn’t it?
Well…it is if you have to decide at that point in time as your willpower is at its weakest…
You are in your deepest slumber from around 3:00 AM to 4:00 AM.
Don’t believe me?
Ask those working the graveyard shift…
It takes every tiny cell in their body to stay awake.
And now…during that period you are forcing yourself to get up…
Your mind will instinctively choose something where it need not have to exercise its will power…
So, it will want to go back to bed.
Your body is not in the primed state early in the morning.
Its temperature is at its lowest and your muscles are stiff.
So, your chances of getting a muscle pull or a cramp are way more than during any other time of the day.
Also, your last meal will be usually the previous night’s dinner.
So, there is a gap of around 8-10 hours.
Now, if you skip your morning snack before the run, you may feel extremely fatigued and dizzy.
Sometimes due to lack of sleep or a heavy and late dinner, you may feel sluggish.
This, in turn, makes it even more difficult to run in the morning.
So, to summarize, here are the reasons why it is difficult to run in the morning:
- Dependence on will power
- Lower body temperature
- Muscle stiffness
- Previous meal 8-10 hours ago
- Skipping morning snack
- Lack of proper sleep
- Heavy and late dinner
Benefits: running in the morning vs night
The debate goes on which is a better time to run.
Although running in the morning is more challenging, still it is better to run in the morning.
Well, it is my personal choice and you are free to pick your favorite workout time…
I feel morning is more refreshing and you can have your “me-time” in the early hours.
You can just focus on your run in the morning without having much going on in your head.
And once you are done with your run, you are free for the entire day.
But I’ll lay in front of you, the benefits of both the runs so that you can decide for yourself…
- You need not think about how to squeeze in your running into your busy schedule.
- You will be able to breathe a lot more oxygen.
- You will start your day energized.
- Post-run or workout, endorphins, and adrenaline hormones. This keeps you in a good mood throughout the day.
- You will have a higher metabolism throughout your day.
- The weather will be cooler and the summer sun will not burn a hole into your skin. In any case, running in summer is a difficult task for obvious reasons.
- Difficult to get up in the morning especially at 4:00 AM in the morning.
- Stiff muscles and joints.
- Lesser muscle coordination and control.
- Warm-up is a must if you want to avoid injuries.
- A perfect way to relax at the end of a busy day.
- You can get away with lesser warm-ups.
- Will boost your nighttime metabolism and will fight fat.
- If you plan for a late evening run, there are chances of missing it altogether due to your other commitments.
- You may be so exhausted with the entire day’s chores, that you may not feel like going for a run.
- Air may not be as fresh as in the morning.
More tips to wake up at 4 am and go for a run
Sounds challenging…Yep, it is…initially.
However, if you have read the above tricks, then you have sufficient ammunition to tackle this challenge.
Running is more about your mind…
Tackle your mind and your body will follow – Unknown
Below, I’m sharing 7 more tips to help you to wake up at 4 am and go for a run.
Create a waking up habit
Waking up early may not be your forte and I completely get it.
But with constant practice, you may easily achieve it. However, before that, you have to create the “habit”.
And this will be your biggest stumbling block.
Here is a step by step way to create a waking-up habit.
I can vouch for it because I’ve implemented it myself and have been successful…
I went from being an 8:00 AM riser to a 5:00 AM riser and now a 4:30 AM early bird. (Still not a 4 AM riser…but working towards it)
Try it out, if you are struggling with your waking-up habit. You will surely be successful.
Sleep on time
To get up early and feel fresh, you need to have a good 6-7 hours of sleep.
However, due to various life commitments, we tend to go to bed very late..and by late I mean way past 12:00 AM.
Now, if you are going to bed that late, how will you get up early?
Maybe, you will get up for one or two days, however, then your mind and body will give up and all your resolutions will fail.
So, try to get to bed on time and latest by 10 PM.
Here are a couple of tips to help you sleep better:
- A warm bath before you go to bed.
- Do not workout late evening as it will push your body to an adrenaline frenzy.
- Avoid watching television or scrolling through your phone an hour before sleeping as they keep your brain active and delay your sleep.
Eat a light meal for dinner
Well, it is a golden rule to have dinner as early as possible, preferably by 6 PM.
However, if you have a very heavy dinner, you will have trouble with your sleep.
Your, digestive system will remain too active and will not let you have a sound sleep.
So, keep it light.
Otherwise, you may feel sluggish to run in the morning.
Keep your running gears ready before going to bed
Your goal is to automate your actions once you get up.
If you have to scout through your shoe closet, and wardrobe in the morning, you will give up.
It is too much trouble for your brain to take at that hour of the day.
Also, it is very motivating to keep your running clothes and shoes ready the night before.
This is a subconscious clue to your brain that you will be running in the morning.
This way you would not waste time searching for your apparels.
And if you feel lazy to go out and run, with all your gears waiting for you, you may have had more motivation to overcome this laziness.
Keep the alarm clock out of your reach
Well, this is a strategy that I’ve described above.
Also, I’ve told you the perfect place to keep your alarm clock.
If you are like me, snoozing the alarm comes easy to you in the morning.
Now that you are building a new habit, invest in a decent alarm clock.
Do not and I repeat, do not use your phone to set your alarm clock.
It is very convenient to snooze it.
Use an alarm that has a louder sound and keep it out of reach.
If you don’t like the jolt you feel in the morning when you hear the shrill pitch of your alarm clock, you can go for something which comes with natural sounds like a Sunrise wake-up alarm.
It will give you a simulation of the sunrise into your bedroom with the natural sound of your choice.
This will make waking up much easy for you.
However, it comes with that dreaded snooze button 😉
So, keep it out of your reach.
Reduce black coffee intake in the evening
Well, many of you will not agree but it is true that black coffee is a performance booster.
It makes you alert and enhances performance. Being alert is very essential in the morning.
However, if you drink black coffee or coffee in general in the evening, you will find it hard to sleep.
Again the same thing…
It will make you alert and your nervous system will be very active.
So, limit your coffee intake in the evening.
However, in the morning, when you are heading out of that door…take a few sips of black coffee.
Still skeptic? Well, here is how black coffee is beneficial for your running…
Find a run buddy
A partner in crime is fun to work with.
Well, this is what I have done when I started…pulled along a set of friends when going for the early morning run. (Who cursed me to the core, but I did it anyway 😉).
You get a sense of commitment and competition.
Also, you do not feel like missing your workout.
And if you can keep up your streak…then awesome…you will be motivated to do more…now you can feel the new person you are becoming.
Safety tips for early morning running
Running in the morning is awesome, but is running in the morning safe?
Also, there are a plethora of personal safety devices for runners that can help you escape those tricky situations.
However, it is easier said than done…and mind you, I’m not discouraging you…
Keeping yourself safe in the wee hours is completely up to you as there will be no one around to help you out.
However, here are a couple of safety tips that may help you, in case such an unfortunate situation arise.
Inform someone about your morning run – It is good to keep any family member or friend informed about the run.
Let them know, how far you are running that day and when they can expect you back.
This way they will be able to rush in case you need help.
Carry pepper spray – Pepper spray is extremely useful for ladies. It’s quite handy and effective.
And they can save you from the odd encounters during a morning run and during your day to day life.
However, here is a word of caution. This thing can turn against you if the attacker can get his hands on it.
So, a better option will be to go for a wearable version so that there is no chance of it changing hands during the unfortunate attack.
Do lots of research before trying an unknown route – Before you try a new route, do a lot of research on that.
Drive to the area later in the day, to check the overall environment.
Try to watch out for some subtle signs which may preempt your plan.
Also, knowing the area prior will help you a lot.
The chances of getting lost are more if you don’t know the area.
Also, you would not be knowing the condition of the roads if you don’t visit prior and you will be in for a surprise.
Do not follow the same route at the same speed – Don’t follow the same path at the same speed every day.
You become an easy target this way.
The key is to not be predictable.
Never listen to music – I’m not kidding.
Seriously, never listen to music especially if you are running on the road early in the morning.
Music will distract your mind and you may miss any subtle signs of danger.
You need to be as alert as possible when you are running at odd hours.
Wear reflective clothes – This is required to prevent accidents.
A reflective jacket may help someone coming from behind to locate you.
Run with a buddy
This is not only a good way to be on track with your morning running habit, but also it will keep you safe.
If you are running alone, you are more vulnerable. However, with a friend, it is a different story.
A friend is there to help you out in case of a mishap as there will be no one else in that ungodly hour of the day.
Say ‘Hi’ to fellow runners
Smile is always welcome.
If you are running in the early hours, smile at other runners or say ‘Hi!”.
This way they will at least have your face in mind. This is helpful if anything goes wrong with you.
Wear ID – With this, I don’t mean you should wear an ID card, but yes you must carry any kind of identity with you.
It is good to have an emergency contact number of your family or friend written on that.
Also, you can have all these engraved in a medical bracelet along with any medical condition you may have.
And they don’t have to be hideous to look at. In fact, like the Divoti Custom Engraved Medical Bracelets, they can be very stylish to look at and comes with free engraving service.
Always carry your phone
Your mobile is your savior at times.
Keep your phone changed and never leave the house without it.
This is not just to connect in times of need but can help you check the route if you are lost.
Carry a small first-aid kit with you
Let’s say if you get injured at a lonely stretch early morning, where the commuters are also less, it is good to carry your own first aid kit.
Keep a small box with some essentials like cotton, antiseptic or band-aid.
Here is a summary for those who don’t like to read through long posts…I believe this post is a pretty long one 😉
11 Tips for Waking Up and Running at 4 AM in the morning
- Tune your body with your alarm clock.
- Pillow talk.
- Know where you will be at 4 am the next day.
- A small change at a time.
- Create a waking up habit by enforcing a reward-punishment system.
- Sleep on time.
- Eat a light meal for dinner.
- Keep your running gears ready before going to bed.
- Keep the alarm clock out of your reach.
- Reduce black coffee intake in the evening.
- Find a buddy.
11 Safety Tips for a Morning Run
- Inform someone about your morning run.
- Carry a pepper spray (read the caution mentioned above).
- Do lots of research before trying an unknown route.
- Do not be predicable (Try different researched routes).
- Never listen to music.
- Wear reflective clothes.
- Run with a buddy.
- Say ‘Hi’ to fellow runners.
- Wear ID.
- Always carry your phone.
- Carry a small first-aid kit.
I hope that you have sufficient ammunition for putting your ‘run in the morning’ plan in action. Feel free to post your favorite tips in the comment section below.
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.
Trine, Malani R., and William P. Morgan. “Influence of time of day on the anxiolytic effects of exercise.” International journal of sports medicine 18.03 (1997): 161-168.
Burgoon, Penny Wung, et al. “A comparison of morning and evening “types” during maximum exercise.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 6.2 (1992): 115-119.
Kinghorn, K. (2007). What Motivates an Early Morning Runner?
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