Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chasing the Morning Sun

As I write this on Sunday morning, I am enjoying my last day off for the next 4 months. Football practice starts tomorrow and school resumes shortly after. That means something school related every day until Thanksgiving (yes, even every Sat and Sun).
My challenge becomes, how do I continue the running schedule I've so diligently stuck to this summer? After reading Joe Stahl's post yesterday called "School, Fitness, How Do I manage..." it got me thinking about how much I'm going to have to re-prioritize my life to keep it up. But, you know what, my health and fitness is worth that effort.
What I've determined is that the best time for me is going to be early, and I mean early (4:30 am) to get my running in. While that thought may terrify some people, I've always kind of been a morning person anyway so it won't be that much of an adjustment.
While it's highly debatable and definitely doesn't fit everyone's schedule, I also believe that doing my cardio before I eat my first meal of the day, helps me stay in better shape.
Here an excerpt from Should You Do Cardio First Thing in the Morning Before Eating by Tom Venuto,
"The argument in favor of fasted early morning cardio goes something like this:
1. When you wake up in the morning after an overnight 8-12 hour fast, your body’s stores of glycogen are somewhat depleted. Doing cardio in this state causes your body to mobilize more fat because of the unavailability of glycogen.

2. Eating causes a release of insulin. Insulin interferes with the mobilization of body fat. Less insulin is present in the morning; therefore, more body fat is burned when cardio is done in the morning.

3. There is less carbohydrate (glucose) "floating around" in the bloodstream when you wake up after an overnight fast. With less glucose available, you will burn more fat.

4. If you eat immediately before a workout, you have to burn off what you just ate first before tapping into stored body fat (and insulin is elevated after a meal.)

5. When you do cardio in the morning, your metabolism stays elevated for a period of time after the workout is over. If you do cardio in the evening, you burn calories during the session so you definitely benefit from it, but you fail to take advantage of the "afterburn" effect because your metabolic rate drops dramatically as soon as you go to sleep.

Research supports this theory. A study performed at Kansas State University and published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that a kilogram of fat is burned sooner when exercise is done in the fasted state in the morning than when it’s done later in the day." (

One of the other benefits for me is that I really love the tranquil, quiet, and usually much cooler conditions of a morning run. There is just something very therapeutic for me about running before the sun, and the rest of the world, gets up.

Trust me, there will be plenty of groans from me when that alarms beeps at 4:30 am tomorrow but hopefully I can force myself out of bed by remembering how important my morning runs are to me.


Run by Sunrise by Leefotos'


  1. Hi Mike
    It seems that just before schools open, we all have the same fears about our training plan. And I was wondering exactly the same things about training in the morning before breakfast.
    Reading you will be waking up at 4.30 in the morning, makes my 6.30 sound late-ish! :)

  2. We all have different schedules, Anna. 6:30 for you might be early. I have to leave the house at 6:30 to get my kids to the sitter before school and usually don't get home after football till about 6:30 at night. By that point, I want to hang with the family instead of run.
    I agree that most of us are having the same anxieties about our new routines.
    Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading the post. Enjoy the rest of your summer :)

  3. Hi Mike!

    What an incredible photo. Just hanging this on my wall or these days on my desktop as wallpaper would motivate me to get out there and run!

  4. Thanks Shelly. I thought it was an incredible photo, too. Wish I had taken it...or better yet, lived some place that looked like that where I could run with that scenery. Thanks for reading the blog. I appreciate it.

  5. Mike,
    Thanks for the post. Yes, you are right. We will all have to find the times and ways we can work the time into our schedules. For me, the weekends will definitely be when I get my longer workouts in, since I commute an hour each way to work. I am looking for ways to incorporate exercise into my day and may look into leading an after-school exercise club! Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Thanks Joan. I feel your pain about the commute. I think the most important thing is that we make our health a priority. Have a great school year!

  7. This is a great list. Thank you for posting it. Yet another great motivation for me to get up with the sun (will myself out of bed) and go do my workout.

  8. Thanks for the comment, Elizabeth. I know researching that definitely helped me get out of bed this week. Hope it can help other people, too. Good luck and thanks for reading