Cross Training For Runners

When Is The Best Time To Run? Morning, Afternoon, or Night?

5 Mins read

“When is the best time to run?”

This is one of the most common questions I get from my clients, readers, and friends.

To be honest, I don’t have the answer.

Whether it’s early in the morning, at lunchtime break, or late at night, virtually every runner has an opinion—or two—on the ideal time of day to log their miles in.

To get it right, here are a few guidelines to help you figure out what running routine times work best for you. Dawn, crack of noon, or dead of night.

Sounds great?

Let’s lace up and dig in.

When Is The Best Time To Run? Morning Running

Here’s what you stand to gain by building a morning running habit.

Good Start

Logging your miles first thing in the morning will jumpstart your day on a positive note.  The endorphins your brain releases in response to exercise can elevate your mood and keep it up long past your 30-minute run.

You’ll also feel a sense of triumph after completing a run, giving you an optimistic outlook for the rest of the day.

Improved Motivation

When you schedule your miles as the first thing on your schedule, it’s less likely that something else will come up and stand in the way of your success.

Of course, don’t take my word for it.

Research shows that people who exercise in the morning are more consistent with their exercise routines than those who sweat it out in the afternoon or evening.

More Burn

Running in the morning, especially on an empty stomach, may help burn more calories for the rest of the day.

Research has shown that people can burn drastically more body fat exercising on an empty stomach.

Just keep in mind that if you’re too hungry and drained, you may lack fuel for full running potential.

Disadvantages

Morning running has its downsides.

Let’s check out a few.

Stiff Body

Jumping from bed to the streets running can feel a lot harder on your body than at any other time of the day. Your core body temperature might be low, your muscles tense, and your joints stiff. This may set the stage for soreness as well as mediocre performance.

Not A Morning Person

This goes without saying, but if you only wake up early in the day when it’s a matter of life or death, then trying to build the morning running habit will be an uphill battle—one that you may lose a few weeks in.

Sleep Sacrifice

Not only will you need to wake up earlier for your one-hour run, but also factor in the time needed for preparing for the run and getting ready afterward. Even a short 20-minute jog .will take at least an hour.

This can lead to sleep deprivation such as inertia, which is feeling groggy for a while upon waking up, as well chronic fatigue and low energy level.

Additional resource – What’s the optimal temperature for running

When Is The Best Time To Run? Running At Noon

Here are a few of the pros of running during your lunchtime break.

Peak Performance

Research shows that human athletic performance reaches its peak around lunchtime.

This is thanks to a host of factors like hormone levels, core body temperature, fuel usage capacity, breathing volume—all of which peak in the afternoon—compared to the morning.

What’s more?

Research out of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning revealed that people tend to perform their best at exercise later in the day, with both endurance and strength topping later in the afternoon.

Nice Break

If your job is too overwhelming, taking a short break to go for a run can help restore your energy so that you tackle the rest of the day renewed.

The run will function as a rest, allowing you to get some fresh air to clear your mind and set up your intentions for the rest of the day.

Safer

Compared to running at dusk, afternoon runs occur when the world is most awake, and everything is bright.  The sun is out. The streets are alive.

That’s why running during this time is the safest.

Additional Resource – Running during lunch break

Disadvantages

Here are some of the downsides of the afternoon running.

Stomach issues

The biggest hurdle when it comes to afternoon runs is planning around your last meal.

You’d need enough fuel to power you throughout your training. But, if you’re still too full from a full lunch, you’ll experience lethargy and stomach cramps.

best time to run

When Is The Best Time To Run? Nighttime Running

Leading a hectic life from dusk till dawn? Then here are some of the benefits of working out at night.

Stress Relief

Hitting the streets is one of the best ways to help you unwind and blow off some steam.

Nighttime runs do both your body and mind good because they can help you clear your mind from the stresses of problems of the day.

High Performance

In the evening, your body might still be in high-performance mode, which will allow you to perform at your best. But it’s not the case when you are already overloaded at work.

Additional resource – Guide to urban running

Disadvantages

Again, running at night is not without its own challenges, including:

Sleep Disruption

If your runs are challenging enough to leave you especially alert and wired, logging the miles before getting to bed can make it hard to fall asleep.

However, keep in mind that research has shown that exercising at night doesn’t always disrupt sleep—in fact, it can actually improve it when done right.

No Energy

By 8 or 9 pm, you’ve already gone through an entire day of work meetings, shopping errands, commute, and so much more.

All of these may drain you out of energy and make you feel tired and sluggish by the time the evening arrives.

Less Safe

Venturing out when it’s dark means that you’re vulnerable to all types of dangers and risks, especially for female runners.

These include safety concerns, traffic problems, vision obstacles, and higher levels of pollutants in the environment.

Lack of time

Unless you’re a late-night owl and don’t mind going to bed at 2 am, you might be short for the time when running at night.

What’s the answer?

At the end of the day—no pun intended—the best way to stay consistent with your running routine is to schedule your runs according to your individual goals and lifestyle.

In short, the best time for you to run is when it feels easiest for you.

So, when trying to decide what’s the best time for you to run, consider your individual goals and lifestyle conditions. Plan everything precisely, so you could do it during the time slot you choose.

Do you want to get faster? Lose weight?

Tame stress? Or what?

For example, if you want to run your best, perform intervals; for instance, consider scheduling your run during the afternoon.

Looking to reduce stress and unwire? Finish off your day with an easy and comfortable run.

Still unsure? Try running early in the morning, at lunchtime, then late in the evening, then see which you enjoy the most.

Additional resource – How to become a morning a runner

When Is The Best Time To Run?  – The Conclusion

There you have it! If you ever felt unsure about when it’s the best time to run, then today’s post should have provided you with enough answers. The rest is really up to you.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep training strong.

David D.

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