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An ode to those who hate morning exercise

Why you shouldn't force yourself to become a morning person

Runners have heard many times that the early bird gets the worm and stories of first-thing-in-the-morning runners finding beauty in the solitude. But what if morning running just isn’t your thing? Many of us have tried over and over again to convince ourselves that we’re 5 a.m. kind of people, but just end up dreading the sound of our alarms every day instead of looking forward to our morning workout. 

If you’ve struggled to transition to morning runs, we’ve got good news: you don’t have to. The afternoon or evening workout is just as effective, and if it works better for your schedule and biological clock – go for it. We’re here to tell you that the afternoon running bird still gets to eat worms. 

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A 2015 article in The New Yorker explored the link between early mornings and their moral underpinnings. In a study of sleep patterns, Sunita Sah, a behavioural scientist at Georgetown University, found that each person’s sleep pattern and associated chronotype (whether they’re a morning or evening person) are highly individual and difficult to change. Maria Konnikova, the author of The New Yorker story, wrote, “Ultimately, the best policy may be to understand and embrace your chronotype. Sah says that it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to overcome your predisposition and train yourself to function better at times that don’t match up with your inner clock.”

You shouldn’t force yourself to wake up early

Running is already hard, and if you’re decidedly not a morning person, forcing yourself up before at the crack of dawn probably won’t bode well for your big workout day. If you’ve got a difficult run on tap, save it for the evening when you’re feeling more alert. Your legs will thank you. 

However, sometimes you have to

Many road races happen in the early morning (for the sake of road closures), so runners will usually need to wake up early on race day. While waking up early every day to train probably isn’t feasible for a night owl, it’s important to practise the early rise a few times before the gun. Just like you wouldn’t try a new food a few hours before your run, you shouldn’t try a new sleep schedule either. During your taper phase, try waking up for an easy run at the time you would have to to race. This way the 5 a.m. alarm won’t be as terrible a shock on race day. While this is important race prep, don’t feel like this needs to become a year-round habit (unless, of course, you enjoyed it). 

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