What exactly is the best time to go for a run? Some runners swear that first thing in the morning is the best time of day to run, whereas others insist that the evening is better. The short answer is, it depends. The schedule that works for one runner isn’t necessarily the best thing for the next runner.
Running in the Morning
I apologize in advance for the people that have to run first thing in the morning: you might not like what you hear next. Early morning can actually be the worst time of day to workout.
For those of us that have had the privilege of waking up in the dark to get ready for a run, we are well aware that everything moves slower at that time of day. I can’t ever remember jumping cheerfully out of bed to head out for a run!
Your body temperature is at its lowest first thing in the morning, which results in everything being stiffer and slower. Unless you had the midnight munchies, your body has also not refueled since dinner the night before.
To add insult to injury, “Research shows this is the most common time of day for heart attacks and strokes,” says James Waterhouse, Professor of Biological Rhythms at John Moores University, Liverpool, England.
On a positive note, some runners feel better about running first thing in the morning because they can check it off their list before daily activities get in the way. There are some studies that show that exercisers are more consistent when they exercise first thing in the morning, probably due to the inability to procrastinate!
Running in the Afternoon or Evening
That leaves afternoon and evening runs. Your body temperature actually peaks during this time, making it ideal for running. Your muscles are nice and warm and raring to go. Lung function has also been found to be best during this time of day. As a result, some runners report that running in the afternoon and evening actually “feels” easier than running first thing in the morning (even though they are often running at a slightly faster pace).
Which is Better?
Therefore, the research actually indicates that afternoon and evening are the best times to run if we want to count on the cooperation of our body’s physiology. The hardest part about running during this time of day is garnering the motivation to get off the couch and head out the door after work!
What about you? When is your favorite time to run?