Running in the Morning vs Running at Night

Posted on Jul 16, 2009 under Training | 14 Comments

The great debate about running in the morning and running at night.

Morning Running

Athletes have different preferences when it comes to running in the morning or running at night. Back in high school we would run in the mornings during the summers and weekends. But once the school year started, we would run in the afternoon after class. The reason why we ran in the mornings during the summer was because it would have been way too hot to run in the afternoons. It worked out because big invitational races were always on Saturday mornings, so we would be running in the same conditions. However, when the school year started, we had no other choice but to run after school, which was a lot harder than the mornings. But during the school year, our league meets against other high schools were after school, so we would be used to those conditions as well. There were a few times during the year where we decide to run at night..

Night Running

Night running is a lot different from running in the mornings. We once ran with glow sticks, but that didn’t really help and my teammate just threw his into the trees on the run back. Running at night is actually pretty scary for a couple of reasons. When we ran on the trail, we wouldn’t be able to see the path ahead or anything on the ground so we could have tripped on rocks, branches and other stuff. It was also dangerous because there could easily be an attacker hiding in the bushes and we wouldn’t be able to react or anticipate it. Because of those reasons, I always ran a lot faster at night than when I would run in the mornings, similar to how I sometimes run faster in the rain. There are a lot of reasons why I run faster at night, and fear is definitely one of the main reasons. There have been many runs where I ran faster because I was running with the fear of my teammate catching up to me and beating me. In the case of running at night, I was always afraid that there was something or someone coming up behind me, so it was like it was being chased the whole way.

Today’s Night Run

Run: 3 miles, 19:01 (fastest running this route) Splits: 6:15, 6:23, 6:23
Avg HR: 183, Peak: 200 (HR I get during a race!), 400 calories

I missed this morning’s run so I decided to try and get a quick run in after work. I had to leave work late and ran some errands, so it was starting to get dark. I laced up headed out the door. I usually leave the door unlocked since I usually run at 6am and I’m just assuming that burglars are usually sleeping at that time. I needed to bring the key this time, so I tried to loop the key into my laces, which I used to do in high school. However, since it’s been so long since I’ve done that, I forgot to tuck the key into the shoe and double knot. The key got loose within the first 30 seconds of my run! Good thing I noticed right away and just had to walk back retrace my steps. But before I lost the key, I noticed that I felt really good right when I started the run. I had a feeling that today was going to be a good run.

And it was! 🙂 My first mile was a whopping 6:15! I knew I was going fast at the beginning of the run, but I hadn’t run that fast in a while, so I didn’t want to miss my chance. I finished the 2nd and 3rd miles at a reasonable 6:23 each, which is just amazing. It got dark toward the end of the run, but I don’t think I ran that fast because it was night time. My initial thoughts were that I am just not awake at 6 in the morning and my body just going through the motions when I run in the mornings. There could also be other reasons for the great workout. I don’t eat or drink anything before my runs in the morning, so that could have been a factor. I’m walking around at work a good amount and my body is more awake at night. Whatever the reason, right after I finished this run I started thinking about running after work in the future. It would mean that I could get more sleep in the mornings, but it also means I have less time after work to do stuff. But if it really means that I’ll have a lot better workouts, then it’s sort of a no-brainer, if you ask me. I think I’m going to finish the week off running in the morning, but start off next week running after work and see if that makes a difference in my workouts. Hopefully running at night was the change I needed to kick-start my training program.

Images courtesy of Z@ch and Wolfgang Staudt

14 Responses to “Running in the Morning vs Running at Night”

  1. lindsay Says:

    your shorts don’t have a little pocket? that’s where i put my key, though sometimes i do tie to my shoes. they also sell little ‘pockets’ you can put on your laces (i think roadID has some) that you can put a key or some money in, just an fyi 🙂

    i get that ‘scared’ feeling running the dark period – morning or night! but in general i feel all the bad guys are still in bed in the am, it’s just the drunks having a really late ‘night’ that you have to deal with 🙂

  2. diana Says:

    Nice run. Here in NC it is ideal to run in the morning before the heat sets in. However, I don’t have that option during the week, so I run at night and then on the weekends early morning. I don’t really have a preference, yet running in the morning is nice because you get the run out of the way.

  3. Matt Says:

    Here in UK I prefer to run later in the day. This isn’t due to the ‘heat’ (never a problem in England!) but just that my body responds better. I always feel I have more energy towards the evening. This time of year light is pretty good (obviously) just a heck of a lot of reflective clothing and mini lights in winter required. I often run too and from work and it’s always the run home that ‘feels’ better. As for ‘baddies’, most psychopaths in this country are overweight and smoke…

  4. Carl Says:

    I am a morning person, and prefer the a.m. run. It is still dark out when I do my morning runs. I completely understand the fear factor. A dog startled me Friday morning and definitely helped increase my speed.

  5. triAlien Says:

    I always prefer running at night. Not so much because of the weather (around here is the same to run in the morning or at night), my main reason is because I don’t seem to work so well early in the mornings, I feel really sloooooow, so I rather run at night.

  6. SDrunner Says:

    @lindsay Yeah..I run in basketball shorts. Running shorts will be next on my list of products to review 🙂

    You must run really early in the morning for it to still be out for those drunks, lol!

    @diana I can understand the necessity to run in the early mornings or late at night bc of the heat. It’s starting to heat up over here in CA too.

    @Matt Good to hear that heat is never a problem in the UK, makes me want to run over there! I agree that it feels better to run later. But I have to watch what junk food I’m eating during the day now or else I’ll still feel sluggish during that night run after work!

    @Carl I’d be running like the wind too if I knew a dog was chasing me! Maybe I should just bring a dog to chase me during every run, I’d be a superstar!

    @triAlien I just had my frist night run today and had an and it was awesome! I felt alright, but ran the fastest time (27:11, 4 miles) since I started running again. I think I’m with you in running at night from now on!

    Check out that workout at DailyMile:

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  8. Chris Barber Says:

    I did a survey with my Twitter followers on this exact same subject the other week and most all of them said they preferred running in the morning. I prefer nighttime so I told them why they were wrong:

  9. Shirts4Runners Says:

    One more vote for running at night. I just feel so gross and sluggish in the morning – have never really liked working out then. One thing is that it gets hotter and hotter as you go, whereas at night it gets cooler and cooler (though the darkness creeps in too).

    Good discussion about the debate!

  10. Teri Says:

    That’s funny. I run a lot slower at night, even though I feel like I am cruising. But I do love a good night run on a relay – it’s not the same as doing a training run around town though. There are enough people around that it isn’t so lonely, though I have been out in the middle of nowhere by myself, and that was a bit freaky. One person was chased by a badger out there. I think my favorite is early morning after the sun has come up.


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