Every day before work I run between 3-10 miles. Doing this sets me up for the day. After a morning run, I feel awake, mentally sharp, productive and tend to generate ideas better when I get into the office. In this article, I’ll explore the benefits of running every day before work.
I never used to be an early bird
You read that right. I used to hate the mornings.
Upon waking, I’d smash the snooze button on my alarm and spend the next 30 minutes in an all-out bedside war with my alarm clock where I’d keep hitting it into silence each time it erupted into ringing.
Though I feel like I got the upper hand, I’d always end up oversleeping and start the morning routine in a mad rush.
To make matters worse, slipping in and out of light sleep during the alarm clock shenanigans meant I would always be in a state of mental fogginess and grogginess. I wasn’t mentally sharp nor productive and didn’t feel that I could generate ideas very well.
I tried being a morning person after listening a podcast
This wasteful morning cycle continued for many months until one day when I listened to a podcast featuring David Goggins.
Goggins is an ex-Navy SEAL turned ultra-distance athlete, known for his advice on mental toughness and helping overs to overcome adversity in their lives.
In the podcast, Goggins mentioned how he runs every single morning to start the day. He said doing this gave him a sense of achievement and set him up for a day of success. Running first thing made him feel like he had won the first battle of the day which cultivated momentum to tackle more challenges. The success from running first thing spilt into other areas of David’s day and he said life is better if you run first thing.
I gave running first thing, before work, a try
Having recently started running regularly, I decided to try David’s advice and put it into practice. Surely running first thing in the morning couldn’t be that great for the day ahead, could it? Struggling with my mornings and feeling tired, groggy and unproductive upon entering the office, I decided to give pre-work running a try.
I went to bed at 10:00PM one night, having set my alarm clock for 6:00AM, and got up to turn the alarm clock. To make sure I would definitely get up I placed the alarm clock on the other side of the room underneath my running clothes. There was no way I was ducking out of this experiment.
I geared up, had a small cracker, drank a glass of water and went out of the door. The first half mile felt pretty painful; I was half-asleep in a zombie-like state. However, it didn’t take long for the blood to start circulating and I soon started feeling much better. By mile 2 I felt wide awake and in full flow. I felt good.
I finished the run and got into my house 15 minutes before I usually dragged myself out of bed. A quick breakfast of eggs on toast, shower and shave later, I was out the door and on my way to work feeling great.
Not only had running first thing made me feel wide awake and alert, it gave me a sense of achievement as I had already completed an important task before getting in the office door.
Upon starting work I noticed I felt significantly more focused than usual. I found I could more easily fixate on a particular task without being distracted and got all my important work done before 12. Not only that, I felt happier too. I felt completely different to days when I fought my alarm clock. I couldn’t believe the difference going for a run before work had made.
If you currently run after work in the evenings, I’d urge you to seriously consider running before you start work. Sure, it might mean going to bed earlier to get up earlier but I promise you the benefits of doing so are worth it.
For more information on David Goggins check out the following blog posts:
- David Goggins: Run First Thing and Win the First Battle of the Day
- Applying David Goggins ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ to Running
Based on my experience, here are the benefits of running before work:
1. It’s a Natural Way to Wake up your Body
Rather than drinking numerous cups of coffee to feel awake, which can leave you shaking and feeling irritable, running before work is a natural way to wake up your body.
When we do exercise, like running, the brain releases natural ‘feel-good’ hormones endorphins. These make you feel more energetic, awake and happier. These endorphins kick in during a run and tend to last for an hour or two after the run. Great if you want to bring a positive version of yourself to work in the morning rather than a groggy version dreaming of going back to bed.
If you’re some one one who wants an easy way to remove brain fog in the mornings and bring an alert, awake, positive version of yourself to the office, run before work.
2. Prioritise Tasks Better
In addition to making you feel awake, endorphins improve the brains ability to prioritise tasks and to focus for longer on a given task.
By being able to decide what needs immediate attention and being able to work on a given task for a longer period of uninterrupted time, you will become more productive and achieve the results you always dreamed of.
3. Create Momentum
In the past, I used to struggle to get going in the mornings and create a sense of momentum which would see me through the day. It was hard for me to get out of bed, drag myself through the usual morning routine, travel to work and then start the first task of the day.
Each task seemed like a massive effort and I had no natural drive to power through the things that needed to be done. If you’re someone that struggles to get into a rhythm of work in the mornings, running first thing could be just what you need.
The Cambridge Dictionary define momentum as ‘the force that keeps something moving or keeps an event developing after it has started’. I believe running can be this force.
Running before work kick starts a feeling of momentum. Not only running a physical activity which gets you moving and in a mental state of doing more physical tasks, going for a run first thing can be considered your first victory of the day.
Having the mental knowledge that you’ve got after it first thing with a run means you’re committed to success and have already had a win in the mental bank to motivate you through your other tasks of the day. Running before work can be a powerful kick-starting force to encourage you to plow through your work day.
With regards to generating a sense of momentum, getting started is the hardest part. Once a force of momentum is generated through running first thing, it will keep you moving and focused on developing the events in your day.
4. Start the day in a positive mood
Exercise, even in little doses, has been shown to increase happiness and mental well-being. Running first thing in the morning is great for feeling merry for the first few hours of the day.
Being positive is important at work. Not only does an optimistic outlook sit make clients feel more relaxed and warm to you, it also makes your colleagues more likely to like and get on with you. Since some us spend more time with the people we work with than our families, it’s vital that we get on with the team.
Therefore, increasing the chance of turning up to work feeling elated is in your best interest. From experience, I know running can massively boost the mood in the mornings and make you happier upon entering the office.
Before I went for a run in the mornings I used to rock up to work in a strange mood characterised by tiredness and brain-fog.
Though I’m naturally an optimistic person, I found it difficult to spark a positive sense of self for the first hours of the workday; I was still half-asleep. Needless to say, I wasn’t the most interesting person to be around in the office first thing.
That’s all a thing of the past now. I’m in a great mood when I get to work thanks to the dopamine and endorphins racing around my brain after my morning run.
5. Improve Creativity
According to the Business Inside, ‘aerobic workouts like running, stimulates something called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which encourages the growth of new brain cells in the hippo campus.’
Not only is the hippocampus linked to long term memory, it also plays a role in helping people create ideas and imagine new situations. Exercising literally speeds up the birth of new brain cells in the region which could improve memory and creativity, and improve the overall function of the hippocampus. Brilliant for us human beings who have a natural tendency to be creative.
We’re always looking for ways to do things differently, more efficiently and generate innovative ideas. Whether this creativity means organising your schedule with an innovative new time-chunking system, learning a musical instrument, writing a novel, pitching a business strategy to a client or coming up with a unique date idea for a partner, the ability to generate ideas for our lives is important.
Being someone who struggled with creativity first thing in the morning after entering the office, I noticed a huge improvement in my ability to generate ideas when I started running first thing.
Words came naturally to me when writing a report or email, I spoke with more flair to colleagues and my brainstorming quickly became more conducive to helping me find a logical solution to a problem. I couldn’t believe how much running first thing had improved my creativity capability in the first few hours of the day.
Getting the blood pumping before work got me into a positive and alert state; perfect for coming up with new ideas quickly. If you’re interested in improving your creative potential at work give running in the early hours a try.
If you’re struggling with getting up for work in the mornings, feeling groggy, not creative and gloomy when walking through the office door, get up earlier and go for a run. Your working life will be supercharged and you’ll get more done with seemingly less effort, charisma and flair.