Running in the Morning


Experience From - Matthias Schoeck , Mike , Blake Wood , Karl King , Rich Schick , Matthias Schoeck , Clem LaCava , Doug McKeever ,

Matthias Schoeck

Question: How do you deal with morning runs, especially with getting hydrated for them?

The reason for the question: I have always been an afternoon/evening runner. Due to job requirements, I will have to run in the morning on weekdays for the next months, at least until it starts staying light outside later again. In general, that's not a big problem for me. The problem I have with morning runs is that I wake up in the morning (almost every morning) being pretty severely dehydrated. I have a pretty fast metabolism in the first place, but since I have started to run more than the "twice a week 10K" thing, my water throughput has just gone beserk. For example, I need a lot more than the usually recommended water intake during a run to stay resonably hydrated. And that also applies to the a non-running time.

Anyway, running when I am dehydrated is not so much fun and usually leaves me with a somewhat bad aftertaste. So the question is, what can I do about the running in the morning and dehydration thing? I see a number of solutions for the problem, and I'll give you the reason why I don't exactly like each of them.

All of the "contras" above are personal opinions that surely not everybody will share with me. I know that some people like to run in the dark. Well, I like that from time to time, but not usually. So I am interested to know what some of you do to deal with this situation.


  1. Go to bed hyrdated.
  2. Find a water bottle somewhere and drink on the run. It's a pain at first but you get used to it after about 15 seconds.
  3. Learn to pee on the run.

Blake Wood

Matthias - I'm exclusively an early morning runner, so I understand what you're talking about concerning dehydration on morning runs. What helps for me is to keep my water intake up all day long. I keep a quart bottle full of water on my desk at work, and drain it several times a day. This helps prevent morning cotton-mouth.

I don't share your problem of peeing on the run, since I live in the mountains and most everywhere is fair game. However, there are places with restrooms that never close: hospital emergency rooms. I can easily duck into the local emergency room and use their bathroom. It's also a good place to refill my water bottles when nothing else is open.

Karl King

If you run at night without proper hydration before, during and after the run, you'll wake with significant dehydration.

If you drop the evening run in favor of a morning run, you probably won't go to bed already dehydrated.

If staying hydrated during a run is a problem, carry a bottle and drink at least 0.5 Liter per hour.

Rich Schick

If you are adequarely hydrated the day before, you'll be OK in the AM unless you sleep too hot and sweat all night. My formula(good for all runners no matter when they run).

  1. drink a lot of fluids after your run to the point of having clear urine, Once clear urine is achieved you are adequately hydrated and can just drink normally

  2. Drink about 16 -20 ounces about 30 - 60 minutes prior to the run and then another 8 oz or so just before you run.

Does the trick for me for runs of 2 hours or less, for longer runs you'll need fluids along the way be it carrying a bottle or stopping to refuel.

Matthias Schoeck #2

I posted a question about getting hydrated for a morning run. I really like this list. The first answers came within 5 minutes, and I got *a lot* of replies overall. First of all, thanks a lot to everybody who responded. I think I learned a lot.

There I had a topic (hydration) that I have read a lot about, it comes up on the lists quite a bit, I have given it some thought, so I arrongantly thought that I knew what's to know about it. Sure, I ignore some aspects of what I should do for correct hydration, but I know what I am doing, so there's no problem, right? Man, have I ever been wrong!!

Let me try to get this somewhat organized. I'll start with the summary of the answers I got along with some comments why this does or does not apply to my situation (in my opinion). I will then follow this with a description of what I think I learned from this about keeping yourself hydrated in a much more general context than just for a morning run. I know that this will probably not come as much of an surprise to many of you; it makes perfect sense now - I think - I just never thought about it before. I post this to the list for two reason: 1. I am speculating, as I obviously don't really know what I am talking about. I'd appreciate if someone could tell me if I'm right or wrong or something in between. 2. From my experience, if somebody (me, in this case) has not thought about or understood something, there are usually a whole bunch of other people with the same problem. Maybe this will actually be helpful to somebody. Those are my excuses why I bring up a topic like dehydration on the list yet again. [Actually, having written the first part (summary) now, I have decided to put the second part (interpretations) into a separate post.]

Summary of answers:

  1. The most frequent comment was that I should carry a water bottle with me on the run. I absolutely agree with that. I do carry water with me on my longer runs, but I ignore it on my shorter runs - which might be the cause of my entire problem. See next mail: the interpretation part. The only reason why I didn't think at first that this applies to my situation is that this is for hydration DURING the run, whereas my concern was more about (de)hydration before I even start to run. I believe now, that this is all much more complicated. Again, more on that below.

  2. Next, a lot of people pointed out that I probably do not keep myself hydrated enough during the day if I wake up dehydrated and that I should drink more. I at first did not believe that either and recited some numbers: I keep a quart-size glas of water with me all the time, drink about 6 liters or more (1 liter = 1 quart, approximately) each day, drink between 1 and 2 liters directly after a run, my urine usually has absolutely no color, I go the the bathroom about once an hour and once or twice at night... If I don't get *a lot* of water *all* the time, I dehydrate within 2 - 4 hours, that's why I am dehydrated when I wake up, no matter how well hydrated I am when I go to bed. All of that actually should have given me some indication that something is NOT right as the water seems to run right through me, but I didn't know. The only people I had to compare my situation too are non-runners, so I figured this is just the difference between runners and non-runners. Again, more on this in the next mail.

  3. Karl suggested that I might not be dehydrated in the morning if I don't run in the evening. Well, that's probably true if everything else was ok. I've only been running about 3 times a week lately (that's how things worked out for me, hopefully I'll be back up to at least 5 or 6 times a week soon) and even after 2 days of no running at all, I still wake up dehydrated. Yet another indication that there might be a more general problem.

  4. Sleeping too warmly came up a couple times and the question if I sweat at night. Right now, my bedroom is at about 15-16 degrees Celsius (around 60 F). I don't know if that's too warm, but I don't think so. Yes, I sometimes do sweat in the first half of a night, particularly in nights after races or long training runs. We had that topic on the list a few months back. It seems to indicate that I am not adequately trained - which I know for other reasons also. I see that as a positive sign, that there's room for improvement. I do not usually sweat at night.

  5. Here's an interesting reply: "have you had your thyroid function checked with your doctor, it seems very unusual that just sleeping one night makes you dehydrated." No, I haven't. I don't even know what a thyroid is or that I have such a thing, if it is a thing :-> Something to think about if everything else doesn't help, but the solution might be more simple than that. See next mail...

So in summary, the most prominent opinion seemed to be that I am not well enough hydrated in general. I did not agree with that at all at the beginning, but I'm not so sure about that any more.

Ok, this is getting pretty long already. I will put the second part (interpretations of all this) into another mail, especially since there comes a somewhat big change of topic anyway. I'll go away from the morning run issue and say something about hydration DURING training, which I believe is what causes my problem, if there's a real problem.

As the topic now changes towards hydration in a more general context...

So people seemed to think that the problem might be that I do not keep myself well enough hydrated in general. I disagreed with that, at first, based on the amounts of water I drink all the time and the way how and when I do that (see the numbers in my last post). I am not so sure any more now that I am actually hydrated well enough though. That's what this mail is about.

As some other numbers might play a role also and I just don't know which ones, I'll give you a summary of who I am (in numbers) here. Rich (I think) suggested that that would be a good idea for some kinds of posts anyway. So: I am 28, male, 1.91 m tall (6'3"), weigh around 80 kg (175 lbs), the only time I had my body fat tested (about 2 or 3 years ago) it came out to 9%. Running #s: PRs are 39:50 for 10 km, 3:09 for the marathon, 8:24 for 50 miles, all run under very dis-similar conditions, so no basis for comparison among each other. I usually do my training runs around a 5:00 min/km, 8:00 min/mile pace - that's if it's flat terrain. But that's about the only thing that has been "typical" about my training during the last 5 months, as I have finished a dissertation, changed jobs, changed continents, ... Anything else? Let me know...

All of what comes now are speculations, so please tell me if you think that I am wrong or that the things I write are imcomplete. That's exactly the reason why I post this.

The problem seems to be that I need an unusual large amount of water to keep myself hydrated (6 liters or more a day) and that I dehydrate in a very brief period of time (2 - 4 hours). Although I believe that I need somewhat more water than most people I know, just because I am taller and heavier, this still seems extreme. And I also don't remember it being this bad about 5 years ago when I was only running twice a week and hardly ever more than 10 km in a single run. I can think of two possible reasons:

I think I might be on to something here, but I don't think that I see the whole picture yet. As I said in the last mail, I once believed that I understood the whole hydration topic, but obviously I didn't. Even though this topic comes up fairly often on the lists and I have given it some thoughts of my own, I still didn't get it, I guess, because it wasn't formulated the right way to be understood by my brain. And maybe saying it in the way as stated above (along with the responses I hope to get) might help somebody else - wishful thinking :)

Basically, the question boils down to: am I really so different from everybody else or am I doing something fundamentally wrong. I suspect it's the second. In that case I need to figure out what to do about it. A first guess as to how to attack the problem is what I wrote above. I will experiment with this (already started this morning!) and hopefully I will be able to post some results of the experiment to the list in 8 or 12 weeks.

Clem LaCava

Brian, Maybe your body is trying to tell you it hates to run in the morning. That's what my 50 year old body tells me when I try to run in the morning. During the week, I run at noon or after work.

When I run with friends on the weekends, if they want to start at 6AM, I don't show up, if they'll start at 9AM, I'll be there, but running relaxed. I'll make exceptions for races and adventure runs.

Of course, I'm lucky, I don't have to get the run out of the way on the weekend to do any chores. I can mow the lawn with a push mower in 15 minutes. If I don't finish running until the afternoon or later, all I do then is eat, drink and maybe listen to Blues Power on KLCC, or Sunday afternoon Jazz and hopefully stay relaxed the rest of the day.

Now, that the kids are grown up, and no more refereeing AYSO soccer games on Saturday and having dozens of soccer moms, chewing me out for making the wrong call, running on the weekends is later and better. (Of course, maybe the abuse I received from the soccer moms prepared me mentally for 100 mile trail races.)

Doug McKeever

Brian: For me too, morning runs are always more labored than afternoon sessions. I long ago resigned myself to the fact that even though I am a "morning person", my running isn't so hot in the hour or two just after awakening (actually, these years it isn't so hot even in afternoon....or evening...!). So for me, anyway, I just try for "perceived effort" and don't worry too much about the time or pace.

Actually, I seldom run in the early morning anymore, except on summer multi-day runs in the Cascades or in races that start at some awfully early hour. But your question indicated that you have to run in the morning if you are going to get the run in some days.