The age old question for runners: should I run first thing in the morning or is a post-work run the better option? Ask a handful of runners which time they prefer to log their miles, and we guarantee their answers will vary as much as their splits. Although there technically isn’t a right or wrong answer, there are some definite benefits to both.
If you’re still struggling with finding your perfect time to sneak in those miles, we’re breaking down all the pros and cons to both day and night runs.
Then, find out which is right for you with Aaptiv. We’ve got runs you can take outdoors, or on a treadmill, as well as scheduling abilities to ensure that you always show up for your workout.
The Morning Run:
Gold Star for the Day
First and foremost, we can all agree a morning run is a great way to get a workout over with first thing. The earlier you commit to the run, the less likely you are to procrastinate your workout. Morning runners often talk about feeling accomplished before even starting the day. Plus, the endorphin boost can also help you soar into that morning meeting!
Keep It Steady
Another benefit of the morning run is that it can help maintain a healthy weight. In a 2010 study, researchers found that male participants who trained in a fasted state (a.k.a. skipping breakfast and immediately hitting the pavement) gained less weight than those who had breakfast first then worked out.
Lastly, another major benefit to training in the A.M. is the decreased likelihood of overheating. Temperatures are often cooler in the morning, so this can be a major plus for runners who react adversely to hotter runs (and people who just hate being hot). And, because the body’s core temperature is lower after a night of rest, you’re also less likely to overheat in the morning.
There’s no getting around it: a morning workout is a physical and mental commitment. When that alarm goes off and it’s still dark out, it can be really tempting to skip your workout and catch a few extra hours of ZZZ’s. If you’re one to hit snooze a few times, perhaps a morning workout isn’t best for you.
You may also hit snooze if you don’t feel well rested. Get the sleep you need and try one of the sleep meditations on Aaptiv.
Buildup Is Key
In addition, morning runs could possibly feel like they’re taking a bit more effort to complete thanks to stiffer, less loosened-up muscles and a lower body temp. (This also could lead to potential injury!) “Your bodily functions are not awake, so you’ll spend half the run doing that,” explains fitness expert Meghan Takacs.
The Evening Run:
There are a number of benefits to hitting the track in the late afternoon or evening. The primary one being that your body has had time to “wake up.” Takacs explains that because the body has already had hours of fluctuation in its functions (e.g. eating, walking, thinking, etc.), it’s neurologically and physically ready to operate more efficiently. She also adds that loading up on protein-filled meals during the day can give the body time to get it’s energy levels up so it’s ready to perform at its prime.
Another benefit to an evening run is better lung function. As Takacs explains, both your lung performance and body temperature are both at an optimal level of efficiency during an evening run. In fact, in a 2008 study, researchers found that lung function is about six percent better in the evening than in the morning. This can translate to feeling stronger throughout the run and a faster pace per mile.
Time to Think
Lastly, Takacs explains many runners choose an afternoon or evening run because of the psychological benefits. “Think about it: in the morning, we’re all feeling like wow, this blows,” she says of morning training sessions. “Later in the day we’ve had time to gather ourselves and perhaps even discover a reason to run.”
Looking for your why? Aaptiv trainers can help you find it and stay committed to the reasons you run.
The most obvious con to an evening run is time. If you’ve put your training run off until after work or dinner, you might find yourself simply too exhausted or stressed from a long day to want to hit the gym. (We’ve all talked ourselves out of a workout in favor of Netflix and take out, right?) If procrastination is one of your guilty vices, you might not benefit from later-in-the-day workouts.
Lastly, less visibility at night can potentially mean more dangerous situations for runners. If you’re not running on a treadmill or lit track, running on the street could possibly be a bit more dangerous at night. Always be sure to let someone know where you’re running, keep your headphones turned down so you’re alert to noises, and wear reflective clothings so cars are easily able to spot you.
Bottom line: There is no hard and fast rule for everyone. Find what time of day makes you feel strongest and give it your all every time.
And Aaptiv can help you. Click here to check out workouts you can take anywhere, anytime.