What I learnt by forcing myself to run in the mornings

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I have chosen to run in the mornings. It has not always been my preferred time of day to run. Let’s just say I’m not a morning person. I prefer the quiet and solace of the night to catchh up on reading, TV, work or paying bills. There is a kind of tranquility to the night after the day’s natural light is gone.  The need to train for run events made it the default for me choosing to run in the mornings. There are more upsides than downsides for morning runs as I logically compared the different times of the day.

Run Events

These are inevitably organised to start in the mornings when the temperature is milder. Runners will experience reduced risk on many health issues such as heat exhaustion, dehydration, and sunburn. Training and running during the morning helps acclimatise the body to run in the morning. When you do the next run event (which has a morning start), you’re already used to this timeslot.

Atmosphere

The body is a machine. Feed it with the proper nutrition and you will get a lot more use out of it and to perform better. Air is part of what fuels your muscles. The morning air is fresher and crisper due to reduced human activities. There is less chance of inhaling big breaths of vehicle smoke. Dust and pollen particles are reduced as these would have settled overnight. As runners, we are always so conscious of having clean air to our lungs to maintain our running and health.

Environmental Factors 

The surroundings are much calmer due to reduced activities. This leaves runners to enjoy the focus they can achieve from fewer distractions. I enjoy the increasing amount of daylight as the sun rises higher from the horizon. Each new morning is glorious and marks new beginnings. Creatures start to stir and greet the day and the runners. Where there are distractions, they are usually welcomed as little intermissions from running exertion.

Senses

The calm and serenity sharpen the senses. Every new smell, sight, sound, and feeling creates the awareness of being. It is a great time to be alive and feel alive. This enables a kind of meditation whilst running. I am more aware of my body as I exert myself on those crisp morning runs.

Body rhythm

Our physiology is geared towards diurnal activities and waking to be active is a natural progression from our night resting state. Increasing amount of daylight has been shown to stimulate our senses so we are physically ready for the day to come. Getting to run in the morning also supports our normal circadian rhythm.  We are not nocturnal so doing hard physical exercises in the evening or late in the day is not as natural as doing activities in the morning.

Ramping up your body

Physical activities change our emotional state besides the obvious physiological effects. After running or any physical exercises, various bodily chemicals course through our arteries and veins giving us the much needed resources for our cells and organs to function at that level as well as prepare for any necessary repairs.  Running gives me a runners high in the morning and positive mood to last the entire day. The positive effects have been said to last almost 48 hours.

Power up for the day

The euphoric sense after the run is real and can carry you through the day. This can last up to 48 hours after the activity. Exercise is proven and known to reduce anxiety and depression, boosts self-esteem and improved sleep and sex. A range of chemicals in your body is responsible for this and they power your activity and mood. Here is a little summary of some chemicals affecting you.

Endorphin helps diminish pain and decreases stress. It is released to condition your cells to withstand pain better.

Do you feel good after your run too? That is the work of Serotonin. It is a mood enhancer. You feel good about yourself having exerted yourself.

We are all aware of that big rush of energy that carries you through your fight or flight modes and that is the work of adrenalin. Adrenalin is used by your body to stimulate you for those times when you need to be highly energised to fight or tackle a physical trauma.

Dopamine levels increase with exercise and post-run, it helps you feel good about yourself. It is released when we experience pleasure and hence it is often referred to as the ‘happy drug’. “Dope” referring to the illicit drugs are thus named due to their similarity in effects on our body and mood as dopamine. Dopamine also helps to control weight gain.

Irisin is a hormone that assists in our exercises. It supports and promotes the efficient conversion of fat into energy, Thus helping us “turn fat into muscles”.

Testosterone is a hormone that assists in bone, hair and muscle growth. It is not just a male only hormone, everyone has it otherwise how are we to grow? Men generally produce more in their bodies. Physical activities boost testosterone production necessary for growth.

Estrogen levels are way higher in women than men. With physical activities, estrogen promotes cells to burn fat for fuel, so it is good to exercise.

The body is a complex biological machine, so there are more hormones and chemicals that are in play. Running or any other physical activity will cause your brain to up the ante and do what it does best to get your body working at optimum capacity.

Whichever part of the day you pick to run in, go for it! There is no right or wrong; just what works best for you.  You need running to support your active life and to continue enjoying it.

Comments, questions? Feel free to add below.

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