How can the time of day affect your running?
The best time to run in the day is something that is not often considered by many runners on a daily basis. The time of day that runners choose to exercise is normally determined by external factors, and also finding the motivation to run can affect what time of the day you choose to get your trainers on and get out of the door.
As most adults often have a busy work schedule to work around, their daily exercise is often limited to a morning or evening run. The times of day that most runners choose to run all have their advantages and disadvantages, as well as physical and mental obstacles to overcome.
Running in the morning
When I run around the streets of Cardiff or a park nearby early in the morning, I always encounter many runners who choose to run before the stress of the day ahead begins. I believe that the best way to start a day is to go for a morning run, as it can help me organise myself for the day ahead.
The benefits of morning running
- The streets can be a lot quieter in the morning compared to other times of the day, which means there can be more freedom in the pace that you run.
- If you are hoping to lose weight a morning run is the best option as you can burn more calories by running on an empty stomach, rather than running after your morning meal.
- While the run in the morning may feel harder than later on in the day, there is a sense of achievement in getting out of bed and completing a long run, despite the challenges of actually undertaking a run at this time of day.
The drawbacks of morning running
- Finding the motivation to get up early in the morning and actually leave the house is something that stops a lot of people getting up to do exercise at this time.
- All of your body functions are going to be slower after just waking up in the morning. Body temperature is generally low in the morning after just waking up, and this can cause the muscles to be stiff, which could cause potential injuries. For this reason it is important to warm up before running, either with gentle stretching or by jogging slowly to start with.
- Running straight after waking up normally means that you wouldn’t have eaten since the night before. This results in lower energy stores. Lung function is also poorer in the morning, which can cause problems for running performance.
Running in the afternoon or evening
Many runners choose to run in the afternoon or evening because it is easier to feel motivated to go for a run at this time, and most runners feel that they perform at their best.
The benefits of afternoon and evening running
- Most runners have a lot more time in the evening to complete a longer run because they don’t have to rush anywhere by a certain time, like they do in the morning.
- Body temperature peaks during this time of day and this produces better running performance than at any other time in the day.
- The motivation to run in the evening could also be a lot higher than earlier on in the day which could mean that you get out of the door more often.
The drawbacks of afternoon and evening running
- Running in the evening can mean that after a long day in work you may feel too tired to put on your trainers and leave for a run. You can get round this by forcing yourself out of the house straight away when you get in before having the chance to sit down.
- An evening run could make it harder to sleep at night, which could affect your sleeping pattern and the quality of sleep that you have.
- Running at night also means that you are more vulnerable. It is important that you are safe and that you wear high visibility clothing when running in the dark. It is also advisable to let someone know where you are on your run.
Everyone has different commitments and schedules, some of us may have more choice than others as to when to run in the day. If you have a choice, try different times to run and see how your body responds. You may also like to vary the time of day you run, to add more interest. Above all, be safe and have fun!