The Beauty of an Early Morning Run

This morning started like most Tuesday and Thursday mornings do for me: with my alarm going off at 5:33 a.m. (because yes, that extra 3 minutes totally makes a difference) and me questioning my own sanity at agreeing to do a 6 a.m. run. I have a lot of people ask how I get myself out of bed in the morning for early runs. “Oh, you must be a morning person,” they’ll say. “It’s probably easy for you.”

But no. I don’t think it’s ever easy to get up at 5:33 a.m., at least not for me, especially now that the summer morning light is no longer on our side.

For at least a few minutes after my alarm goes off, I lie there in bed, thinking about canceling the run. “Just think how nice it would feel to roll over and go back to bed,” my mind tells me. “It’s so cozy and warm in here. You don’t really want to get up and go running in the dark right now, do you? Most people are still asleep. Why don’t you just take the easy way out, too?”

This is where having a morning run buddy, at least for me, is key. It’s pretty easy to bail on yourself for a morning run – you’re not disappointing anyone but yourself, and while I know I’ll be bummed later that I didn’t get up and go, it’s can be hard to remember that when you’re warm and cozy and it’s pitch black outside. But when you have someone to meet, there’s a lot less wiggle room. I know I don’t want to disappoint my friend – I said I’d be there, and I will be. So I drag myself out of bed, have some water and a quick snack (I’ve discovered the Oatmeal Cookie Energy Bites I wrote about yesterday are a great pre-run snack), throw on my running gear, and I’m out the door.

I’m still questioning my sanity when I get outside. It’s dark, and the streets are quiet. The sun won’t be up until 6:45 a.m., still well before a lot of people are getting up and ready to head to work.

This morning, I was meeting my buddy Heather for a run. She’s right on time, and after a couple minutes of stretching out and rubbing our bleary eyes, we’re off.

And then, a mere few minutes into the run, and I remember why I do this to myself: because, once I’m over the worst part, simply getting out of bed and out the door, I love it.

Because there’s no better way to start your day than with a run and a friend by your side.

Because I love seeing the city in its sleepy, pre-dawn state.

kennedy center sunrise

Because I love getting a view of the sunrise that most people will miss.

washington monument sunrise

Because I love seeing the other runners out that early and smiling knowingly to each other, feeling like we’re part of a special club, with each of us understanding why the other is up and out and exploring the streets at such an early hour.

Because I love that we get the normally tourist-packed D.C. monuments and reflecting pool to ourselves, even just for a little while.

lincoln memorial early morning

Because I know that no matter how the rest of my day goes, no matter how busy or stressed or overwhelmed I get, at least I had this time to myself, just for me, with nothing to do but chat with a good friend and keep my legs moving.

A little over an hour after we started, Heather and I stop running, head into the metro, and part ways. It’s only 7:10 a.m. and we’ve already run over 7 miles. Endorphins are surging, and I smile. I’ll tackle the rest of the day with a calmer mind and strong legs, knowing that no one can take those miles, that time in the early morning with the beauty of our own city, that sense of accomplishment we now feel, away from us.


And that, my friends, is what I’ll be reminding myself again and again, every time that alarm clock goes off and the cycle starts all over. This is why it’s worth it. This is why I drag myself out of bed at an ungodly hour when I know it would be easier to just sleep in.

The challenge is just to remember that when it’s more convenient to forget. :)


  1. 1

    I recently got into early (meaning 7:30am for me, ha) runs and I feel the same way. After you’ve run 6-7 miles before heading in to work, the rest of the day is a piece of cake. :) It reminds me why I fell in love with running in the first place.

  2. 3

    So true and that’s exactly why I get up early to exercise each morning. Love seeing the sun rise as I get my sweat on!

  3. 4

    This makes me want to be a morning runner! One thing I struggle with is finding running buddies. I have friends who work out in the evenings, though no runners and definitely no morning runners. How do you meet people to run with? I’m not quite fast enough, or confident enough, to run with an organized team that meets at a running store in my neighborhood. So I’m not sure where to start. I live in DC so there must be options for new runners that I’m not aware of. It seems like you have tons of running friends – so great!

    • 5

      I’m super lucky that I’ve made a lot of my running friends through my blog! Don’t be nervous about joining a group though – there are always a lot of pace levels and no one is judging. :)

  4. 6

    I have to laugh….because on Tuesdays and Thursdays I get up at 3:45 AM to run. I belong to a marathon training program run byt the local running store. Our weekday workouts begin at 5 AM but a few of us meet at 4:20 and we do a warm-up run before that day’s workout (either track or tempo/pace runs) which brings our total to between 6-7 miles before I have to be at work (I teach 4th grade) at 7:30. Rolling out of bed at that ungodly hour makes me look crazy to many people, but I am used to it and love the feeling of my workout being over for the day.

  5. 10

    There’s such a sense of accomplishment after a morning run. You have that feeling for the rest of the day… That’s what I love the most. And the fact that you’re improving yourself while most people are still asleep gives you a little ego boost ;-)

  6. 11

    I am so glad that I run in the morning! I feel so wonderful all day (well at 3pm I get a bit tired… 5am is quite early) the darkness of September spooked me at first but now I feel so refreshed. Let’s hope I’m still saying this when the temperature drops. What beautiful pictures!

  7. 12

    I love this post. A running buddy is key. My friend and I wake up early for our morning runs, and we see so many beautiful sun rises, and I tell myself how I would miss out on those if I kept sleeping. The other problem I have is on the days I do give in and stay in bed, I can never fall back to sleep! So not only did I not get any extra sleep, but I also didn’t get to run. Running in the morning is the best :)

  8. 14

    Such pretty views!

  9. 15

    Your photos and post brought me back! Years ago ( under the Clinton Administration) my brother was a Marine working at the white house and I would go visit him every summer. One morning he forced my high school sleep all summer self out of bed for a run around the mall and it was breath taking. The serenity and peacefulness of an area that is always so busy was beautiful, not to mention the sites as well! I fell in love with Washington D.C. and Virginia. I haven’t been back for about 8 years, but if I had a chance to move to the East Coast that would be my top choice.

    Thanks for bringing back great memories, and awesome job accomplishing 7 miles so early! I have a baby now and I get up at 6 to get my work out in before he wakes up.

  10. 17

    I love this post!!! I have the same struggle pretty much every day, but actually getting up for my early morning runs leaves me feeling accomplished, energized, and ready to take on the day. Gorgeous sunrise!

  11. 18

    I consider myself a morning person but it is so hard to get up when it is dark outside! I don’t have a running buddy and I’m too afraid to run solo when it is so dark out because of injuring myself, scary people, etc. Any advice?

  12. 21

    i absolutely love this post! i am the last person on earth to be a morning person, so getting up early to do anything is a huge feat. i still remember when i was a senior in high school i would get up before school to go to the gym since i didn’t have time to go in the afternoon/evening, and everyone would tell me that i was crazy. but it definitely made me happy!

    thanks for giving me the motivation to {hopefully} get some morning runs in before my early classes next quarter :)

  13. 22

    I totally feel you – my snooze button is set for 3 minute increments ;)

  14. 23

    This was such an inspiring read!!:) I think the sunrise is one of my favorite things about getting up and exercising! I need to do it more! Thanks for the inspiration:) I have a daily exercise regimen, but getting out of bed is hard for me too. I think I may just set my alarm earlier after reading this:) Enjoy DC for the rest of us!

  15. 24

    Very impressive self-discipline. But can’t you caffeinate, too? Set the machine to go off automatically at 5:15 or so? “The best part of waking up…” and all that!

    • 25

      Early morning coffee would upset my stomach more than it would wake me up! I save the caffeine for after runs – it’s a great reward. :)

  16. 26

    I just started getting up at 4AM to go to the gym with my husband and it really sets a great tone for the rest of the day! Even though it’s wicked early, I feel myself energized throughout the day and not crashing in to bed once I get home. I love it! :-)

  17. 27

    Sometimes it is hard to get out of bed, but I love finding out that runners rule the world from about 5 till about 7 everyday.

  18. 28

    This post comes at a great time because after Labor Day weekend I have been pushing my workouts till the afternoon. This morning I got up at 5:30 for a class, and I was reminded working out in the morning is so so so much better! :)

  19. 29

    I love this. I can relate and love the way you worded it. There’s just something about the morning runs :)

  20. 30

    Great post! Jealous of your view of the monuments, how lucky are you to get to see them with almost no one around! You’ll have to channel those feeling in while running the marathon for motivation :)

  21. 32

    Man I miss running! Say a prayer my toes/foot heels soon!!!

  22. 34

    I have 100% the same thought process as you when my alarm goes off at 5:19 (those four minutes make a huge difference). I always consider just going back to bed, but the sense of accomplishment of running before most people are awake and seeing SF pre-dawn are what have me questioning my sanity so early in the morning. :)

  23. 35

    I can relate! The alarm went off this morning and I had the same mental games. But I rolled out (even though I’m on vacation) and once out the door was thankful. Thankful for those moments to experience what’s around me without feeling rushed. Without having to say excuse me to get through crowds… to have the road to myself. It’s amazing.

  24. 37

    I love an early morning run! I live in the suburbs in Nashville, so my view isn’t quite as amazing as yours, but I experience a lot of similar feelings-being up before the majority of people, passing others running and feeling a bond, and feeling like I can tackle the rest of the day. Before I started running, the thought of waking up by 5:15 or 5:30 to exercise would have sounded insane to me. Now it feels like the norm. Love this post!

  25. 38

    I get up at 4:30 every morning to run or workout (I have to leave for work by 6:15), and I love it! I always remind myself how good it feels afterwards, and that alone gives me the motivation to keep getting up early.

  26. 39

    I am working on my ability to get myself out of bed! It really is so rewarding when your workout is done before the day starts!!

  27. 40

    Love this post!!!! My boyfriend gets up and goes running with me. Luckily when one of us isn’t feeling it the other one is and makes the other get out the door. I always feel so much better when I start to run and have much more productive days. I am also hating the darker mornings though! I hope I can keep it up in the darker and colder mornings on the way!

  28. 41

    Wonderful post! I feel exactly the same way. Especially how wonderful the rest of the day is knowing that you’ve already earned your miles. :D

  29. 42

    I love everything about this post and totally agree! I had great early morning runs and running buddies before work all summer, now that I am back at school I miss it!!

  30. 43

    Yay! Great post. I’ve only started an early morning gym routine within the past month and I can definitely tell a difference between gym days and non-gym days. You’re right — it does calm the mind for the rest of the day.

  31. 44

    Oh definitely! I have an awful time getting myself out of bed before 6:30 but never regret those early morning runs… I’m glad I’m not the only morning runner who is not a morning person!

  32. 45

    I love this Anne! I can so relate. I LOVE the idea of being a morning person and a morning runner, but it’s so easy to stay sleeping and “run later”.. but once you get up and go for a run in the morning the whole day is different. It ALWAYS feels good…after the first mile.

  33. 46

    Looks like it was a great run :)

    I always work out in the mornings but some days it is definitely a struggle to get out of bed early and just get on with it. Sometimes I have to just not think about it and do it and then by the time I’ve thought more about not doing it I’ve already started.

  34. 47

    This post speaks to exactly why I wake up early to run most days of the week! I’m training for my 3rd marathon, and people always say they don’t know how I “find” time. I always say it’s not finding time, it’s making time. Early morning runs before I head to school at 7am to teach third grade are a way for me to start my day healthy and happy. If I waited until I “found” time to run, I would probably never have started running!

  35. 49

    I love early morning runs for the same reasons you listed. They just make the rest of my day better and are totally worth it :)

  36. 50

    Thanks for the post. After himming and hawing about how impossible it would be for me to start getting up again for AM workouts, this inspired me to get up at 4:50 this morning and start getting back in shape in order to start training for an open water swim next summer (one I’ve had on my bucket list for 3 years!!). It didn’t take me long to remember why I love the AM workout!

  37. 52

    I love what you said about feeling like you’re in a secret club! I can totally relate! I also feel like morning runners are the friendliest runners. Morning run motivation for me a lot of times is knowing I’ll be greeted by plenty of happy runners on my route.

  38. 53

    I love an early morning run! But what do you do when it’s raining (or drizzling even)? This morning was supposed to be a morning run for me and all I did was tell myself “it’s raining, I’ll stay in bed a little while longer and run after work.” Now I wish I had gone! How do you get past the “it’s too rainy outside” roadblock?

    • 54

      I usually just run anyway. ;) Makes you feel like a kid to run in the rain!

      • 55

        Love this! My only concern is my phone which I use as my gps (haven’t shelled out the cash for a gps watch). I don’t like the thought of getting it wet, but everything else about running in the rain is amazing. I haven’t had a rainy run in a few weeks, but there was just something special about that one compared to some others I have done.


  1. […] Well, it wasn’t fake and it sure made getting out of bed worthwhile. […]

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