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How to get up early for a long run

Published 30 September 2019. Written by Chris Worfolk.

Couple in bed

Looking to get up super early for a long training run? It sounds like a great idea until your alarm goes off, and it is time to drag yourself out of bed. Luckily, there are things we can do to make it easier. In this article, I will offer some suggestions.

Make a plan

If you wake up with any question as to whether you are getting up or not, you drastically increase the chances of not getting up. You need a training plan; one that is written down. Make sure you have the exact workout you are going to do planned so there is no wiggle room for last-minute changes in the morning.

Get your gear ready

Do not give yourself excuses like having to find your clothing and gear. Stack it neatly in the living room so that you can throw it on as soon as you get up. That way you can get out the door and start feeling better as soon possible.

You do not need to convince yourself to go for the run. You only need to convince yourself to put your running shoes on. Once you have done that, there is no option but to go for a run. So, make a deal with yourself. “I will put my running gear on, and if I still do not want to go, I can go back to bed”. It makes it easier to accept, and you will find that once you are dressed, you will almost always go out.

Have a purpose

Remind yourself why you are doing this run. Are you training for a marathon or other race? If you have a broader purpose of working towards a goal or improving your health, reminding yourself of the bigger picture will make the short term discomfort more palatable.

This works exceptionally well if you can involve other people. For example, “I am doing this run so that I will be healthier and therefore will live longer and be there to support my family.” It is often easier to go deeper for other people that it is for ourselves.

Keep your alarm out of arm’s reach

If you leave your alarm next to you, it is easy to hit the snooze button. If you put the alarm on the other side of the room, you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Once you do this, the hardest bit (getting out of bed) is already done.

Of course, your partner may not appreciate this tactic.

Focus on the benefits of going early

If you are going for a run in summer, the longer you leave it, the warmer it is going to get. I love the feeling of getting out in the cool morning air before the sun is baking down. The earlier I get up, the more pleasant the temperature is to run in.

And there may be other benefits, too. For example, you can get it out of the way and do something else with your day. Or you may get the park or towpath to yourself. Or, if you are running around the streets, there are less noisy cars around.

Do not worry about sleep

If you know you have to get up early, you may get stressed about getting an early night. Ironically, stressing about needing to get to sleep will keep you awake most of the night. Therefore, remind yourself that it is okay if you do not get as much sleep pas you would like. Humans function fine after missing a single night’s sleep; fatigue is cumulative.

See our blog post on getting a good night’s sleep before a big race for some more tips.


Finding the motivation to get up at silly o’clock is about having a plan and sticking to it. We can make it easier to stick to by understanding how it is part of our bigger purpose, making it easier on ourselves by having everything ready and rationalising it by looking at the benefits.