There’s no denying the struggle of adhering to a grueling training schedule while balancing an active social life and a full-time job or college course-load. The key to managing it all may simply lie in appropriately scheduling your workouts. Moving your daily runs to the morning can free up your afternoon and evenings so that you don’t have to sacrifice quality of work product or time with your loved ones. Not only can training in the AM help you find the perfect run-work-life balance, it can benefit you in other major ways on and off the pavement:
- Better cross training: Testosterone levels in the body are elevated shortly after waking up. By performing strength-related exercises during early hours, the body is taking full advantage of these peaked hormones, rather than expending them later in the day after they have decreased. Mornings are prime time for building muscle mass and tone which is crucial for achieving your next PR. Not to mention- machines at the gym are far less crowded in the morning.
- Boosted metabolism: It’s no secret that exercising can speed up your metabolism. This phenomenon is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Specifically, exercising in the morning can increase your metabolism and keep it speedy all day long. When you eat during the day after an AM workout, instead of the body using these calories as a source of energy or storing them for later, it uses them as replenishment of what was lost during your workout. Plus, a recent study found that exercising on an empty stomach- aka right when you get up- can burn as much as 20 percent more fat than exercising after a meal. Less fat: more speed!
- Increased productivity and attention span: Exercise can play an important role in keeping your brain sharp and focused. Studies show that working out in the morning can increase mental clarity for 4-10 hours post-exercise. As any runner knows, training also produces endorphins that promote feelings of happiness and rejuvenation. With increased focus and that extra pep in your step, you’ll be ready to tackle the day after your early run.
- Better sleep: Studies have proven that athletes who work out in the morning have deeper, longer and more high-quality sleeps than those who work out at night. Additionally, research has shown that physical activity in the evening can actually have a negative impact on sleep. This is because exercise releases adrenaline throughout the body and raises the body’s temperature- two phenomenons that combat restfulness. A good night’s sleep is an enormous component in a high-quality training run. To ensure you get both, run in the morning.
The next time you make plans with friends after work, also make plans with the gym or the track or the road before work. Be advised- your first 6am wake-up call will not be pleasant. But stick with it- the routine will soon develop and you’ll be happy to call yourself a morning runner.