Whether you’re training for a marathon or a 5k run, you need to find the time to put the mileage in somehow to prepare your body and your mind for that specific distance. And while this may sound all very well on paper, when reality bites and certain other commitments, such as re-doing your bathroom, crop up, it can be difficult to stick to the plan.
How to find the time
It is tricky, especially if like me, you have a rather hectic social life, busy work schedule and a partner who only runs when it’s raining and that’s from home to the bus stop.
Essentially, I have several options of when I can run. Option a) a run or #runcommute in the morning, b) head out for a #RUNch or c) after work as a #runcommute and brave the hills (I live in East Finchley work in Covent Garden, there’s no way you can avoid them) d) at dusk, run after getting home from work, e) go to run club or f) head to the track by myself. Believe me, at some point over the past few years I’ve tried all of these options (apart from treadmill but I spend all day inside, why would I want to run inside when I love being outdoors?) and they all have their pros and cons in terms of training. So first up, here’s what I think about running in the morning:
Pros: Mental focus
Running first thing in the morning helps me to mentally prepare myself for the day. It’s like a wake-up call without the caffeine and helps loosen up my body, making me feel alive and at peace. I can focus on my ‘to-do’ list and prioritise what needs to be done when at work and at home. You also notice things such as the change in seasons, the early morning dog walkers and how wonderful London is before it becomes crowded by commuters.
Pros: Keeps it consistent
Countless studies also suggest that early morning runners are also more consistent with their training. I guess it comes down to the fact that your training is done for the day. And once you’ve set yourself up and are in the habit of getting up half an hour to an hour earlier than normal, it becomes part of your daily routine.
Pros: Weight loss
There’s also been some research that suggests running first thing in the morning on an empty stomach helps you lose weight as you’re kick-starting your metabolism and burning fat, which you continue to do after your workout. This isn’t my main goal but I do find that when I run in the morning, I naturally eat better throughout the day. It helps to regulate my appetite.
Pros: Race day
The majority of races on a runner’s calendar (well my calendar) besides X Country, adidas Silverstone Half and Nike We Own The Night have a morning start. By training in the morning, I feel like I’m prepping myself for the early start and getting my body used to drawing on resources when I need them most. Or that’s what I tell myself anyway.
To #runcommute or not?
There was a time when I would run, come home take a shower and then go to work from my desk in my home. Ideal? Perhaps in terms of training. Now that I work in an office (and actually prefer it for company), I have taken to the #runcommute as I can run to work, save money and get some distance into my training regime. In fact, I can get in an easy 10k before work and not have to suffocate under somebody’s armpit on the smelly tube during rush hour. Of course, not everyone has this choice as many people drive to work or have to catch a train, but I find it the easiest way to clock up my mileage.
The cons of the #runcommute
Cons: Cost and baggage
The downside of the #runcommute is that you will never see me without a sports bag, saddlebag or heap of stuff by my side. While I may be saving on our water bill at home by taking a shower at a local gym, I do have to pay essentially to take a shower a day. Unfortunately, my company does not have a shower on the premises. And don’t get me started on packing my bag – out are my heels and heavy but beautiful coats, replaced by lightweight cardis, shoes and essentially any clothing I can pack into my bag and not look like I’m moving home everyday. Oh yes, and there have been days when I’ve left something essential at home.
When you’re running to work with a bag on your back, it’s very difficult to pace yourself right. Now I know it’s all part of army training but I’m looking to get faster without the baggage. It is a hell of lot easier to pace yourself without a heavy load on your back. When I run without my bag, I still feel that it takes my body a bit longer to warm-up than say running in the evening. If you’re following a training plan (I don’t but perhaps I should), this is something to factor in.
The cons of running in the morning
Cons: Early to bed…
Waking up an hour early so you can run can play into your downtime and those around you. There are countless times that I’ve said no to the cinema on a school night because the film ends after my bedtime of between 10:30 to 11pm (moany boyfriend alert). Drinking can also be out of the question. Once in a while you can handle a late night and have a complete blowout but when it becomes too regular, you feel it in your pace, your legs (and your head). You have to be disciplined about running in the morning and this means setting an alarm clock in the morning and the evening.
Cons: Regimented and organised
As well as going to bed slightly earlier than your other half, you also have to plan your bag and your kit in advance (if you #runcommute), again this can take time to do at night and blows any spontaneity out of the window.
Having said all this, I do enjoy my morning run. In fact, it’s one of my favourite times to run as London isn’t quite the hub of activity and you notice many of the small things. That being said, it may not be the best time for speed work as it takes a while for my body to warm up but the mental gains are immense. Running in the morning helps me to start the day on a good note.
Do you prefer running in the morning, lunch or evening?