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How to wake up early to run: 5 tips to make getting up early a little easier

I get up nearly every day sometime between 5:15 and 5:40 to run or to work. (I do my best work, including writing blog posts early in the morning so I try to catch up on that when it’s an off day or short run day.) While I sleep in 1-2 days a week, “sleeping in” still means a 6:30-7:00 wake-up time. And that sleeping in is done intentionally to get extra sleep to help with recovery from hard workouts.

One of the most-asked questions I get on Instagram is something along the lines of “How do you get up so early?!” or “I want to be a morning person! How do I do it?” or “How do you get out of bed?” or “I want to be a morning runner! How do wake up early to run?” My short answer is, I JUST DO IT. That’s the bottom line – you just HAVE to do it. I do have 5 tips that I think help, but when it’s all said and done, it comes back to this: don’t hit snooze, get UP when your alarm goes off, and don’t get back in bed. Sorry folks. No magic potion (well, coffee is kind of magic) and no secrets. But, how about some tips that make it little easier to get up early, hm?

5 tips to make getting up early a little easier

1. Go to bed and get up at a consistent time

If you go to bed and wake up at drastically different times, your body doesn’t really know what to expect. And your body likes a routine. It will start to produce melatonin (which makes you sleepy) at the same time every night. Your body will also get used to waking up at the same time, and while you may still need an alarm (I do!), it will be easier because your body is used to it. There’s all sorts of science behind that, which I can’t really explain (there are smarter scientists that can so google if you’re interested), but know that there are chemicals/hormones in the body that will work in your favor if you let them.

2. Set your alarm and leave it in another room

I use my phone for my alarm, and I leave it in the bathroom after I finished my nightly skincare routine and brush my teeth. If it’s next to my bed on my nightstand, I will hit snooze. So I removed that option. I have to physically get out of bed to shut it off. And, since I love my husband and I’d like to him to keep loving me, I can’t just let it keep going off for 5 minutes.

3. Put a visual reminder of WHY you are getting up next to your alarm

I put my current training plan and running clothes for the next day (or my planner, if I’m working instead of running) next to my phone so when I turn off my alarm, I have a visual reminder of why I want to get up (rather than hitting snooze and getting back in bed, which I’ve done a couple times – it’s never worth it). That visual cue helps a LOT. And it’s also part of my evening and morning routine, which leads me to…

4. Follow a routine at night and in the morning

I think people talk about an evening routine a lot as it relates to making it easier to fall asleep, but I think it’s important to help you wake up early as well. And I also think a morning routine is just as important as an evening routine. Your body and mind are very likely tired first thing in the morning and if it can go through some things on auto-pilot, it helps.

I usually head up to our bedroom to wind down around 9:30-9:45 and start my nighttime routine. Electronics keep me up and TV especially gets me worked up so it’s super important for me to get away from that about an hour before I want to fall asleep. (Tommy, on the other hand, gets sleepy watching TV so he stays downstairs to wind down.)

My evening routine:

  • take out my contacts + wash my face
  • floss + brush my teeth
  • get my running clothes out + plug in my Garmin
  • set my alarm, plug in my phone and leave it the bathroom
  • read for 15 minutes, do our nightly Q&A when Tommy comes upstairs, read for 5 more minutes
  • drink a little water, put my mouthguard in, earplugs in and eye mask on (YEP, I’m that person)
  • turn my lamp off (sometimes Tommy will stay up later to read, but the eye mask makes that a-okay 🙂 )

My morning routine:

  • get up, drink a full glass of water, put on my glasses, get my phone, carry my running clothes downstairs
  • get coffee (Tommy preps the coffee the night before and it starts on a timer 10 minutes before my alarm so it’s ready when I get downstairs)
  • sit on the couch for 5-10 minutes, easing into consciousness while snuggling Maizey and watching the sun start to rise
  • put on my running clothes while eating a pre-run snack and drinking another cup of coffee
  • go upstairs, put in my contacts, pull my hair back and kiss Tommy goodbye (who is usually getting up as I leave to run)

Nearly every single morning starts the same way. See the pictures below for proof. 😉 And I honestly look forward to mornings because I’m not forcing myself to get dressed right away or head out the door in 10 minutes to run. Yeah, that means I have to wake up earlier but that to me is less brutal than needing to function immediately upon waking up. (I had a MUCH easier time waking up and getting out the door to run in 15 minutes when I was in my early-to-mid 20s! No more!) I love the morning snuggles with Maizey, drinking coffee in silence and watching the horizon turn red and orange as the sun thinks about waking up too.

striped pj bottoms | french bulldog pj bottoms – J.Crew sold out, similar here and here | slippers

5. Have a WHY that’s important enough to you

This will be personal, but you need to identify WHY you want to get up in the morning. For me, it creates more time in the evenings to spend time with Tommy, relax, run errands, walk Maizey, and cook dinner. I also know that my most productive time is in the morning so if I have a lot of work to do or a blog deadline, I take advantage of my magic morning hours where I can crush work. I also really love the peace and quiet of the mornings, where it feels like I have the world to myself. And I really, really love watching the sunrise.

Whatever your WHY is, identify it and then create a visual reminder, whether it’s your running shoes, a sticky note with a written reminder that you put on your alarm, or a picture of your family. Then, when you’re tempted to hit snooze, you’ll be reminded of WHY you’re doing it. And for me, that’s enough.

When I polled people on Instagram if I should write a post about how I get up in the morning, I got this response. I couldn’t agree with Jenny more.


The bottom line is, you just have to do it. No one can do it for you.

Forget motivation – focus on action.

Okay, your turn: what are your tips to waking up early, whether to run, work or anything else? 

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  • Reply

    I needed this! I’m SO guilty of snoozing.. and even getting up, grabbing my alarm, and going BACK to bed. I need more discipline!

    Kim .. How to find THAT Brooklyn spot..

  • Reply

    Good info. 2 things that help me. 1) I heard on a podcast about morning workouts where the guest says she makes the decision the night before whether to exercise or not then sticks to it. She doesn’t allow herself to change the plan when she gets up.Granted that’s a lot of determination 2) I’m the type of person motivated by consistency. If I have too many off days it’s a slippery slope. Therefore I vowed recently to not go more than 1 day in a row without some type of exercise.

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    I have been trying to motivate myself to work out in the morning for weeks and your right-I have to just stop snoozing and go! Thank you for this post!!!!!

  • Reply

    I wrote a post recently about how I’ve started waking up early for a workout because I’ve always been such a night owl. But the biggest thing I’ve told people who is ask me is that you just do it. You stop making excuses and do it. It sounds like “duh” but it took so much willpower the first few weeks because I had my “why” and I had worked out my night routine and made it easy for myself but without the just do it mentality, it wasn’t going to happen!

  • Reply

    Great post. I’ve been doing one workout at 6 AM and want to increase this over the next few months.

  • Reply

    yes i can totally relate. At the start of uni I got up every morning at 5am to do my workout for 2 whole years. Last year when i got back from Germany i struggled so much getting my bum out of bed and it took me really long to get used to getting up early again. I think its a habit thing

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    Thanks Teri, I needed this! I’m a runner but NOT a morning person. Thanks for the practical tips and a little kick in the butt as well. I’m also training for a marathon but finding it hard to get my runs in after work during the week. I’m going to try leaving my phone in another room and setting my coffee maker the night before. Can’t wait to track you in Boston, I’ll be out there cheering!

  • Reply

    I too am a morning runner/workout person. I always put my clothes out the night before on a bench we have in our bedroom. One of the things I do is on Sunday I decide which says will be workouts indoors or runs (always outside!) Based on training schedule, time and weather. If I know I cannot get my morning run in, I may plan at afternoon run with a friend. So basically have a plan or plan to fail!

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