7 Actually Manageable Ways To Get Up & Run Before Work

Photo: Via @therunnerbeans
Now it’s finally light(ish), when that obscenely early alarm goes it's signalling that it’s time not only to get up, but to work out. I’m currently training for the Boston and London marathons, and studying full-time to become a dietitian on top of working, which means a lot of my runs are done before 7am otherwise, well, they wouldn’t get done. I regularly share these early-morning runs on Instagram, and get various responses to my sweaty selfies, ranging from "go back to bed, you’re making me feel bad" from my friends, to genuine questions from others about how to make getting up for a morning workout easier. Here’s how anyone can go from snooze-button lover to smug morning runner…

Go to bed earlier

Probably the most basic piece of advice, but the most crucial. You still need 7-9 hours sleep, you just have to be clever about how to get it. I’m in bed around 10pm every night, sometimes earlier, to ensure I have enough shuteye. Other runners I know are in bed around 9pm due to a 4.30am alarm. Can’t fall asleep that early? Try edging your bedtime earlier by just five minutes a night, create a relaxing routine and avoid reading your phone in bed, or read these science-based tips to help you fall asleep with ease.

Don’t be overly ambitious

When you first start exercising in the morning, it’s best to make that alarm gradually earlier rather than setting it a full two hours before you usually get up. Similarly, setting yourself an overly ambitious pre-work run could lead to you skipping it altogether if it feels too overwhelming. A two-mile run is better than no run; even walking to work rather than getting the Tube is enough to raise your heart rate. Try setting yourself a 20-minute workout goal and increase it from there. It’s worth thinking about which days of the week you’ll find it easiest to get up – for many, Monday is a no-go after an exhausting weekend and Friday might be laced with a mini hangover… figure out when works best for you and your schedule.

Wake up energised

I bought a Lumie Bodyclock alarm a few years ago and it was life-changing. The alarm wakes you up gradually as the light intensity increases, rousing you naturally without a beeping alarm and helping you set a healthy sleep cycle. It also makes it a lot harder to hit that snooze button – the light just keeps getting brighter!

Organise the night before

There’s nothing worse than rifling around for that left sock or sports bra in the dark, trying not to wake your partner or flatmate. Lay out your gym or running kit the night before (try rolling up your outfits together in your drawers at the beginning of the week, including your knickers, bra, leggings, etc. so that it’s ready to grab and go – you could even do this straight from your clean washing pile on Sunday night). Planning what you’re going to wear the night before or at the weekend should reduce the time and effort that goes into your morning routine – and will alert you to when you’re about to run out of clean knickers and desperately need to do a wash!

Make breakfast ahead of time

Knowing you have something delicious ready to go when you get back is sometimes motivation in itself, and should stop you accidentally ordering that pain au chocolat with your coffee en route to work. Overnight oats or bircher muesli is a quick and simple make-ahead breakfast and can be customised to suit your tastebuds. Using almond milk should make a batch last all week – just don’t add the fresh fruit until the day you’re eating it. This Waitrose bircher muesli is as easy as it gets. Or try one of these five quick make-ahead breakfast ideas.

Try not to rush

Why is it that, no matter how much time we give ourselves, there’s always that five-minute mad dash to get out of the house? Whether you take 10 minutes to get ready for work or an hour, giving yourself the time you need will help keep things calm first thing. Work backwards from when you need to leave the house, factor in the time it takes to shower/ change/ get ready, plus complete your run (with a little added faffing time to scroll through your Instagram). Similarly, if you’re hitting the gym before work, make sure you’ve factored in a queue for the showers or hairdryers so you don’t arrive at work a sweaty mess. If you can’t eat at work or on your commute, don’t forget to include time to eat and clean up, too.

Stay safe

Make sure to recce a new morning run route in the light to establish whether you’ll feel safe running it alone at 6am. Ideally you want something that is well-lit, with a flow of people or cars, and is not completely isolated, even if that means running a two-mile stretch back and forth. Tell your partner or flatmate (or friend, if you live alone) how far you plan on running, wear something bright or high-visibility and a head torch if necessary, and always have your phone with you. It’s also wise either to ditch the headphones, only listen in one ear or keep the music low so that you can hear the traffic, other runners and pedestrians easily. Try to find a running buddy or group to run with if possible – it would make waking up to meet someone so much easier, not to mention safer.
Now you can feel smug all day, knowing you’ve squeezed in a couple of miles before getting to work, and officially joined the #6amclub.