While most runners have a preference of when they run that seems clear to them from day one, others may wonder about the best time to run. Whether you are a morning, noon, or evening runner, there seem to be benefits to each.
What Time of Day Is It Best To Run?
Although research suggests specific benefits to different times of day, all of us at Rockay want to stress that the best time of day to run is the time that works best for you. Your fitness journey is a deeply personal one. Just like you shouldn’t try to cram a square peg into a round hole, you shouldn’t push too hard to make something fit for you if it doesn’t feel natural.
As a runner, I tried multiple times to become a morning runner. “If you do it every day for a month it becomes a habit,” is the wisdom I heard over and over. So I diligently set my alarm, rolled out of bed, and pushed myself to run first thing in the morning. Do you know what I found? Even after a month, it felt like work.
The other thing I found was that on some days when I ran in the morning, by 4:00 p.m. as I wrapped up my day I felt the itch to run again. Turns out my body loves to run after work, as I work off the stress of the day.
Nothing clears my brain like my feet hitting the pavement while I listen to my own breathing. Why share this story? Because like me, you may find that what works best for most people isn’t going to work for you: and that’s okay.
Is It Good To Run In the Morning?
The benefits of running in the morning are many. First, exercise first thing in the morning has shown to lower blood pressure and that benefit carries throughout the entire day. In addition, a morning workout engages the brain.
Many people find that a morning workout works as an appetite suppressant. This isn’t true for everyone; however, for many, the morning exercise sets the tone for the rest of the day. In other words, if you take the time to exercise first thing, you may be more likely to eat healthier for the remainder of the day.
Another benefit of a morning workout is that nature is at its absolute best in the morning. There is no view quite like the sun coming up and if you commit to a run before work, likely you can catch that beauty.
In addition to that, morning runs are the coolest time of day which is lovely for a good part of the year. True, during the middle of winter when it’s dark and cold you may find it difficult to drag yourself out of bed, but even then the world is quiet, peaceful, and likely all yours.
Lunchtime Runs Can Be Awesome, Too!
In the running world, this is often referred to as “RUNCH.” Get it? Because you’re running over lunch. No, we aren’t suggesting you give up eating. Some people are fortunate enough that they either get enough time to do both, or they work in an environment that they can work over lunch and work while eating.
Running during your lunch hour is an excellent choice for many reasons. First, it gives your brain a reset. You may find yourself having a significantly better mindset when you return from a lunchtime run. Second, you are making good use of time.
Especially for very busy people, a lunchtime run may be your only opportunity to sneak in a run some days.
Word to the wise, however. If you plan to run during lunch you should engage in some planning:
✓ Keep baby wipes and deodorant at the office.
✓ Force yourself to warm up and cool down, even if you feel crunched for time.
✓ Be sure you do leave time to refuel after working out.
✓ Realize you are making the most out of your time. It may not be your best run ever, but it’s better than no run.
✓ Spare clothes – never forget them!
✓ Give yourself a few extra minutes margin just to ensure you aren’t late back to work.
The Post Work Run
Whether you just prefer this time of day or it’s the only time that works, there are clear benefits to working out after work. First, it is an excellent way to relieve stress. You can literally leave your worries in your wake. This will enable you to return to your family happier and emotionally happier.
Just like the logic of working out in the morning, if you work out shortly after work you may be more likely to eat healthier in the evening. After all, no-one wants to undo the good they have just done.
In addition, many people report that they sleep better if the workout a few hours before bedtime.
Why Is It Easier To Run At Night?
You may be surprised to hear that many people find it easier to run at night. That is because research shows that running between 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. is the peak of your strength and endurance. From this perspective, you may experience the best quality workouts during this window.
Some people prefer the quiet of the night. On a hot day, an evening run is cooler. For those with a family, this is sometimes the best option. Lacing up once supper is cleared, the kids have bathed and gone to bed enables you to have the best of both worlds.
Plus, just like a morning run: the world is often quiet and peaceful in the evening hours.
Is It Good To Go For a Run Before Bed?
When asking the best time to run, some people wonder if running right before bed is a poor decision. While some people report that strenuous exercise within a couple of hours of bedtime keeps them awake, others state they have no ill effects.
It truly goes to show that exercise habits and the resulting impacts are deeply personal.
Best Time To Run?
When trying to figure out when is the best time to run, truthfully there is no one size fits all answer. While there are some norms that seem true for most people, the most common “norm” is that once you find something that works for you, stick with it.
The best time to run is the time that works for you, your family, and your life situation. If you try to make something else work, you are less likely to stick to it. Pick something that works for you and go with it.