Once you get into a rhythm with your running, you may find you always choose the same time of day. The best time of the day for running is dependent on many factors, most of them completely personal. When you run may be dependent on your routine, or maybe you can’t get the miles in unless you do them first thing in the morning; whatever the reason is, it is worth considering whether you’re getting the best out of your body and making the most of your runs. Let’s look more closely at the pros and cons of the morning, afternoon, and evening running.
Running in the Morning
Getting up for an early morning run is a routine many of us love because it’s a great start to the day. Trainers on, headphones in, and it’s time to take to the road or wherever your chosen route may run. So what are the pros and cons of running in the morning?
Pro: A great start to your day
An early morning run sets you up in a positive mindset for the whole day. You can enjoy the peace and quiet of this time of day and enjoy the clarity it brings.
Pro: Increase fat burning throughout the day
Whether you’re running for fat loss or not, running in the morning helps you to burn more calories. More specifically, morning exercise on an empty stomach can help you burn more as the day goes on. It can also give you the start you need to avoid unhealthy snacks and treats as your morning run sets the tone for a successful and healthy day.
Pro: Tick Box Checked
Getting your physical activity out of the way first thing means it can be a box ticked off your daily to-do list. The hectic nature of modern living means your daily run can easily be put aside once the obligations of the day take over and fatigue sets in. So get your run done first, and don’t risk missing it altogether.
Con: Sleep Impact
Being an early runner means being an early riser. Getting up an extra hour or half-hour early for a run may be detrimental if you already struggle to get enough sleep.
Con: Harsh Morning Conditions
It can be extremely difficult to get up and out of bed in the colder months. As well as being cold, it’s also still dark, and this can be off-putting. So you need to ensure you have the right equipment such as reflective clothing or even a headlight to help keep you safe.
Running in the Afternoon
Opting for an afternoon run can be great if you’re in the mood as soon as you finish work, or even during the working day in your lunch hour. However, choosing a mid-afternoon slot for your run also has its pros and cons.
Pro: Break up your Day
Taking the time out for yourself in the middle of the day helps to break it into more manageable and enjoyable chunks. Separating work from home or morning from afternoon with a satisfying run can be a great way to keep stress at bay and clear your mind.
Pro: Safest Time of the Day
Mid-afternoon is the busiest and “awake” time of the day. Of course, bad things happen at all hours of the day, but they are much less likely at the heart of the day. Parks and roads are busy, and there are always onlookers around. Studies find 40% of runners feel safer when running with others, and in the middle of the day, you’re more likely to see others out and about or find a club or running buddy to join you.
Con: Managing Meals
Planning your meals around your running schedule is something many runners are well versed in. A huge lunch is not the perfect precursor to a long afternoon run but running on an empty stomach is not ideal in the middle of the day either. Committing to an afternoon running schedule may mean reassessing your diet and mealtimes.
Con: Making Running a Priority
As already mentioned, once the day has started, we are pulled in all directions. There are work commitments, errands, family commitments and other priorities, which can mean your run is pushed to the back of the queue. As your run gets pushed later by other obligations, you are much less likely to go at all and miss out on your chance.
Running in the Evening
After all your commitments are satisfied, heading back out in the evening can be a great time to run. Evening runs are another chance to fully immerse yourself in your me-time and enjoy the pace you set. Pros and cons of running in the evening include:
Pro: Clear your Mind
A refreshing evening run is a chance to clear out all the worries of the day. You don’t have to concern yourself over anything work-related and can throw yourself into your route and focus fully on your workout. Evening runs are a great way of building mental strength and
Pro: Prepare your Body for Sleep
Running in the evening gives you the chance to deplete your body of all its energy stores fully. It is extremely satisfying to finish the day on a draining run just before bed. Sleep will come quickly as your body is ready for it.
Cons: Lack of Enthusiasm after a Busy Day
We all live really busy lives, and often the end of the working day is our time to relax and settle down. Getting in your physical activity after everything else can be hard. Finding the motivation to get up and go is understandably tricky, but once you’re in a routine, it does get easier.
Much like morning runs, running in the evening requires safety equipment such as a headlight and reflective clothing. You may feel you can only run along specific paths and avoid more rural areas. This can be disappointing if you want to enjoy a country run or get off the busier roads.
The time of day you choose to run is closely connected to your personal schedule. For some of us, it needs to be first thing or simply doesn’t happen while others love that total exhaustion feeling just before bed. There’s nothing to say you can’t mix up your schedule and enjoy runs at any time of the day, but most people pick their preferred time and start pounding those pavements.