Some runners swear by their morning runs at the crack of dawn; others wait until after dinner to hit the pavement. Every runner has their own preference, but what does the body prefer? Running at different times of the day can benefit the body mentally, physically and even emotionally in many different ways.
Training in the mornings is sometimes the only option for those with regular office hours, but it may not be the best time to run. Many runners report that morning runs often feel more laborious and draining. This is due to the fact that the human body is physically at its lowest point in the morning when all of its vital functions have just gotten out of “rest” mode. The body temperature is still low, leaving muscles feeling stiff, and energy is usually low due to lack of nourishment.
While training in the morning might feel harder, it is not without its benefits. In fact, running in the morning has shown to produce substantial physical and mental benefits that last all day long. Mentally, most runners feel accomplished after a morning run, which can be shown to increase productivity over those who roll out of bed and into the office. Physically, those who run in the morning typically have higher energy levels throughout the day along with increased metabolism and muscle function.
According to runnersworld.com, the majority of runners prefer to do their training in the evenings. English marathoner Andrew Grace told the website that while he did most of his running in the morning due to his work schedule, he was able to run in the evenings on Wednesday nights. He noticed that, without exerting any extra effort, his running time was consistently a minute faster over the same course as his morning runs.
The explanation is simple: the body is at its physical peak in the evenings. Muscle function, lung function and energy levels are much higher than in the morning, making training much less taxing.
While the body might be at its physical peak, finding the mental energy to run after a long day of work or errands may be difficult. However, studies show that an evening run can be the perfect key to a good night’s rest, which also allows the muscles plenty of time to recuperate.
No matter when runners choose to train, the best time to do it is whenever works best for the individual. Some runners are programmed to be up and about in the mornings, while others get the most out of training after finishing up their workday. Whether a runner is getting out of bed or off the couch, experts agree that what’s most important is that they are on their feet, running.