I wonder if all runners were on the same schedule if it would be more interesting? Maybe we could take over the streets if we all ran at the same time? Well, since that doesn’t seem to be happening, some people are wondering what’s the best time for a run. There are so many variables to that question, it’s almost unanswerable, isn’t it?
I can tell you that there is scientific evidence that indicates the best time for running could be the evenings. Even though there are technical arguments, personal opinions and schedules that come into play — let’s take a look at why the evenings might be better for running.
Running Stiff in the AM
Let me start off with this tidbit of personal information: Besides running, I am also a yoga enthusiast. I am very aware that yoga stretches for exercise in the AM is almost impossible for me.
Why do I find it so much easier to stretch muscles and tendons in the evening than in the morning?
I’ve been in bed for several hours and my muscles are stiff. My muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints all seem dead set against a lot of movement, much less an early morning run.
As the day progresses my body and all that other stuff seems to warm up, loosen up, and become more limber naturally.
I’m Warmer With More Flexibility in the PM
When I do run in the mornings I know I best spend time, a lot of time, stretching and warming up before I start.
Otherwise, I am stiff, immobile and much more prone to soreness. That means there is no chance I can take my pre-run stretching routine lightly.
Conversely, in the evenings my body temperature is up, and all my parts are flexible and ready to go. What’s more, my knees (protected with my favorite running knee sleeves) and ankles are now set to take on all the different landscape and terrain changes because it’s more pliant and yielding than in the AM.
I’m ready for uphill, downhill, rough pavement, and even inadvertently stepping off in potholes and having to suddenly step off the road onto the shoulder to keep from being run over?
My body has had all day to warm up and stretch out naturally so that I’m ready to run or jog in the evenings.
Like all questions, when it comes to fat-burning metabolism from running: There are two sides to the argument.
Burn More Fat In The Mornings
In this article, The Morning Person Advantage Scott Fliegelman explains how running after 10-12 hours of no food at night and a small pre-run meal will get your body to burn off body fat for fuel.
However, that can’t happen until you’ve exercised enough to stoke your metabolism?
Another advantage to running in the mornings is that you won’t overheat because like I stated earlier, your body temp is at the lowest point of the day.
And some of that has to count into why most races occur in the morning?
You could possibly burn off more fat in the mornings, and it’s cooler in the morning to keep you from overheating.
Burn More Calories in the Evenings
The other side of that discussion has to do with your metabolism naturally being slower in the AM after fasting all night.
So there’s the point that if you run in the evenings, your metabolism is kicking, and you’ll burn calories for hours afterward?
That could mean that you possibly run off some of the calories you took in during the day with junk food.
Some people argue that you can burn off calories and ease you are conscious about eating junk food in the evenings.
Another reason to go running in the evenings is that lung function is better in the PM. This study having nothing to do with running, but everything to do with Human Pulmonary Function shows that you’ll experience less resistance to airflow in the afternoon hours.
That means that you breathe deeper in the evenings because your lungs don’t expand as easily in the mornings.
Just like the rest of your body, your lungs and muscles that operate them are stiff in the mornings.
So in the mornings, it takes more time to expand them fully to breathe as deeply as you need to.
Breathing deeper in the afternoon allows you more speed, distance, and overall performance with a more enjoyable run.
Evening Runs to Relax
Most of us need a regular exercise program to de-stress from the day. Whether it’s at the office, or at home dealing with the kids, we wind up tense and stressed at the end of the day.
I exercise in the afternoons because, I am able to let all the head chatter go, and relax for a much better mood. Not to mention that my afternoon jogs help keep my blood pressure down, and get me to sleep without all the tossing and turning.
Running in the evenings relieves accumulated stress, could make you sleep better, probably makes you easier to get along with.
What time to run depends on your own preferences and schedule. Some runners consider running as their exercise and something that must get done. Some of those like to get their exercise program done in the mornings and forget it.
I know several people who run religiously during their lunch break at work. Most of them are self-employed and can take all the time they want to complete their goals.
I like many, prefer to run in the AM but find my runs to be much more productive for exercise benefits, and my family life in the evenings.
From my own scientific research, running between 4 an 8 p.m. is the clear winner. There are several natural bio-rhythms common to humans that come into play during this time that can affect how well you run, how fast you run, and how far you run.
In the end, it is my clear cut opinion that running is far more important than what time I go running!