Despite dipping in and out of running throughout my life, I’d never actually gone for a run at sunrise until fairly recently. Now that I’ve done this once a week for the last 6 weeks, my enjoyment of running has increased once more. What’s surprised me is how genuinely refreshing it feels each time I get into my stride as it makes the motion of running feel new and exciting again.
I’d initially marked it out as a one-time thing so I would have experienced the euphoria of a run mixed in with the beauty of a sunrise at least once in my life. However, I’ve now aimed to build it in as a regular activity. I’ve done this because it gives me a repeatedly fantastic state of being, seemingly without that feeling diminishing. I still get awestruck at a great sunrise and as I gently increase the intensity to appropriately challenge my body, I still get a grand old kick from those endorphins!
If you’re not used to running in poor light, then the first steps of your run may feel a bit unfamiliar, but in a good way. Writing for Motiv Running, Brian Metzler (2017) notes how the first stages can be a majestic experience in itself if you allow it to be. Your brain will tune its focus to different visual cues that are not as prevalent during running in good light, and your ears are likely to pick up sounds not usually noticed during the day. For instance, your eyes will pick out various details as you more carefully plot each footstep whilst your ears are more likely to pick up the sounds of things such as birds, or animals scurrying about, or even just the sounds of your trainers impacting the ground.
Wooded areas can provide dramatic lighting as the sun peeks through the trees
One of the obvious reasons for getting yourself out of bed for this type of run is to enjoy the visual splendour of the sunrise as you’re going through your paces. In order to maximise your experience, I would recommend the following:
- Make sure that you are running prior to the time of sunrise – if the internet tells you that the time of sunrise is 7:10, for example, then aim to be out running for 6:40 at the latest. Sunrise is usually marked as the point at which the top half of the sun is peeking out and, in my experience, at this point you may have missed the fantastic colours resulting from the initial rise – this is why it’s important get your timings right.
- Aim to be in a good spot for the best views – if you can, try to coordinate a stretching break in your run with the most visually striking part of the sunrise. This may take some trial and error in your running routine but is considerably worthwhile.
- Take time to plan a route that complements the sunrise – depending on your location, this may be very difficult, but aim to choose a route that best warrants you going for a sunrise run in the first place.
- If you are out in the dark, then stay safe! – Very Well Fit website (2019) has provided some useful tips for running safely in the dark at https://www.verywellfit.com/safety-tips-for-running-in-the-dark-2911824. Use these tips if you are at all concerned with running in poor light.
There may be compromises that you take when planning your ideal route, but trial and error is likely to produce a result that keeps you coming back for more. For my own run, I compromise the first half of the journey – running alongside the road instead of glamorous country paths – so that I can have my stretching break in a nice park with a fantastic view of the sunrise. Once my fitness builds up then I may be quick enough to also incorporate a more interesting first half of the run, but until then I find my chosen run to be satisfyingly motivating.
Sunrise running in a park will benefit from a large, natural canvas of colour
Moving away from the brilliance of a sunset as your backdrop, you will find several other interesting bonuses to be had from running first thing in the morning. The kick of a natural high early in your day will set the tone for how you proceed with the rest of your day. By constructively working to improve your general health at the break of day, you are physically and mentally preparing yourself to succeed in what you do that day. Each of the elements of positivity that you absorb from that sunrise run – the endorphin kick, the beauty of the sunrise, the improvement of general health and satisfaction gained from an early accomplishment – help to create a positive aura that will radiate throughout your day. It’s very easy to notice and enjoy the company of somebody who starts their day with this approach, and why can’t that person be you?!
By constructively working to improve your general health at the break of day, you are physically and mentally preparing yourself to succeed in what you do that day.
Now, I’m sure that I’ve lobbied the merits of a run at sunrise enough, but it’s important that you understand how you could fit it into your schedule. Many of you may already be at work before sunrise or start soon after. However, this is something that could take place just once a week, it could even be just something that happens once a month. The Guardian website (2015) suggests that you could even use your run as a way of getting you to your workplace, but of course this would depend on your start time and proximity to your job. What’s important is that – if you like the idea – you fit it in to become a regular part of your life. Whilst one sunrise run in your whole lifetime might be something nice to remember, it doesn’t provide the consistent benefits that would be afforded to a more regular routine.
For those of you that try this out, refer to the recommendations above and enjoy the delights of one of the most simple but amazing things that you can build into your life!
The Guardian (2015). Rise with the Sunrise. Accessed in November 2019 at https://www.theguardian.com/sony-run-your-way/2015/mar/13/run-with-the-sunrise
Luff, C. (2019). 10 Safety Tips for Running in the Dark. Very Well Fit. Accessed in November at https://www.verywellfit.com/safety-tips-for-running-in-the-dark-2911824
Metzler, B. (2017). There’s Something Innately Special About running as the Sun Rises. Motiv Running. Accessed in November 2019 at https://www.motivrunning.com/running-life/motivation/running-at-sunrise/