Sometimes you feel relaxed and light when you’re running; your body feels dynamic. Other times your feet feel heavy; every step is hard work. Does it depend on the time of day? And is there a perfect time of day to run when everything feels easier and your body benefits most from all the training sessions?
(A) Running in the morning
A run in the morning is the perfect way to start the day.
If you run in the morning, you can give your body a healthy dose of oxygen. Your metabolism will be pushed to burn more calories.
The higher oxygen content in the morning air makes it easier to breathe, especially in the summertime. It’s also easier to run when it’s still cool compared to the midday heat.
Running in the morning can feel harder than other times of the day.
Right after you get up, your joints might be stiff, your muscles tense and inflexible. This means that you don’t have the necessary muscle control and coordination when you are running. That’s why you should do a special, dynamic warm-up program in the mornings before you run, so you aren’t fighting resistance in your muscles while you are running.
Avoid tough interval training in the morning. Your body isn’t ready to handle such intense stress and turn it into performance. The risk of injury or overexertion is very high at this time of day. This is also true for runs after a long nap.
Plus, your body loses a lot of water when you sleep. It is important to make up for this loss in advance so that you don’t get dehydrated during your run.
(B) Running at lunch
Midday has the best conditions for a high-intensity run.
Your performance potential around lunchtime is 100%, and your body is not too tired from your daily activities. Your energy stores are well-filled – compared to the morning – and physical exertion feels less intense. These are the best conditions for an intense training run. The body handles speed training especially well in the middle of the day.
Running after lunch can be very strenuous.
Your body needs more time to digest depending on how heavy and rich your lunch was. In order to avoid having to deal with digestive problems (e.g. stomach cramps) during an intense interval training, follow these guidelines:
- Wait about 30 minutes after a light snack before you go running.
- If you ate a large lunch, wait 1.5 to 2 hours before your run.
- If running after eating doesn’t make you feel good, do your training before lunch. However, it might be harder to run because your energy stores are not entirely full.
Nutrition guide for runners:
Do you want to know what you should eat before, during, and after your run? Find out in the nutrition guide for runners.
(C) Running in the evening
A run in the evening is a good way to relax.
Are you stressed out at the end of a hectic workday and have trouble unwinding? An easygoing endurance run can help you blow off some steam. Since your body is still in performance mode, you don’t need to warm up as much as in the morning. Plus, a relaxing evening run boosts your night-time fat burning.
An evening run can make it hard to fall asleep.
Perhaps you want to really let off some steam in the evening with a high-intensity run. But be careful, you might struggle to fall asleep: your body is re-energized by the workout.
Summary: schedule your runs according to your individual goals
No matter the time of day that you run, there are advantages and disadvantages as well as different training effects. Think about your individual goals when you schedule your runs. Do you want to lose weight, reduce stress, get faster, or run farther?
- If you want to maintain your performance level, you can train at any time of the day. Make sure you warm up properly.
- Midday runs are best for intense interval training to boost your performance.
- Training runs for general rest and recovery are best done in the evenings.
Early bird or night owl?
It is also wise to think about whether you are more energized in the mornings or evenings when you run. As soon as you decide to join a race, make sure you can perform at the desired level at the starting time. This is something you can train your body to do.
Basically, the best time for you to run is when it feels easiest for you. Factors like daily schedules, sleep patterns, work, leisure time, family, and meal times usually play a major role when planning your runs as well.