5 Daylight Saving Tips for Runners

March 7, 2015  |  By Kit Fox; Runners World

Follow them and your training will spring forward, too.

Don’t let daylight saving time put your fitness to sleep. This morning, our clocks

will spring forward an hour, cutting into precious sleep time. The lost 60 minutes may not seem like much, but it can take a toll on your running routine for several days. Fortunately, with some prep on Saturday evening and extra motivation to not swat the snooze button before your long run Sunday morning, these five tips will keep your training on track.

1. A good night’s rest this weekend is vital for your body’s clock to transition to the new weekday schedule come Monday. For starters, go for a run on Saturday because exercise will significantly improve your snooze quality. Dr. Michael Breus, a runner and sleep specialist with his own practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, also recommends reducing your alcohol and caffeine consumption this weekend. “Alcohol keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep,” he says. “Calm your caffeine consumption down by 2 p.m. on Saturday; that will help get you into deeper stages of sleep that night.” 

2. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier on Saturday night and sleep in 30 minutes later Sunday morning, recommends Dr. Breus. “It takes the circadian clock in the body about a day to get used to the change,” Dr. Breus says. Putting in the extra zzz’s during the weekend time shift will help you feel less tired if you have to get a run in before work Monday morning.

3. Stick to your same weekday running schedule. If you normally run at 6:30 a.m., run at that time Monday morning even though it will feel like an hour earlier. This will help you transition to the new schedule faster.

Dr. Breus does warn that you will likely feel a little groggy—and your workouts might feel harder—those first few days following the clock change. “The more sleep deprived a person is, the more perceived exertion they’ll have,” he says. “You will feel like your workout isn’t as good but that might not be true—it just feels that way—so don’t get down on yourself on your run Monday.”

4. If you feel exceptionally tired during those first few morning runs, try to head out after the sun comes up. “When light hits the optic nerve, it tells your brain to stop producing melatonin,” Dr. Breus says. That’s important because according to a recent study published in the journal Neuron, your body produces the hormone melatonin to induce sleep. Exposing your body to light will block its production helping you feel more awake.

5. Keep the alarm clock far away from your bed. It’s a simple but effective trick to get you out from under the covers, Dr. Breus says. “Really you’re just going to need extra motivation to wake up,” he says. The key is to just get up and out the door. If you do that, after a few days your schedule will go right back to feeling normal, he says.

March 7, 2015

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