Are you ready to streamline your running routine? This quick analysis compares the pros and cons of running in the early morning to running in the evening so you can decide which is best for your personalized training regimen.
Running in the early morning: Pros
One of the best benefits of running in the morning is we can’t negotiate our way out of our workout later. This happens when life throws us unexpected events and responsibilities more important than getting a run in. Running before work eliminates the possibility that we give in to the compelling inner voice insisting “I’m just too tired to run” at the end of a long workday.
Similarly, if you find yourself dreading your running commitments, moving the workout to the first task to be conquered in the morning may make it more enjoyable. Each time we procrastinate on a task, we perceive the looming chore as more and more difficult and frightening than it really is. Creating this morning routine will get you out into the quiet, dark blue dawn when all of town is still sleeping, setting a peaceful, prepared, and accomplished tone for the rest of your day.
Running in the early morning: Cons
The obvious con to instating a morning running regimen is waking up earlier than you already have been. It can be hard to wake up early and head out into Reno’s unpredictable and sometimes downright unpleasant weather. To prevent the cold or wind from being the barrier to get you out the door, you can leave your running clothes on the heater vent. Do not underestimate the power of layers when stepping out into a snowy paradise (hello jackets, beanies, gloves, and face masks). Peel them off and tuck them into your pack or vest when you’ve warmed up a few minutes later. If you need some warm accessories, check out what layers Reno Running Co. has for you here.
For many people the early hours after waking are the most alert and creative hours for the human mind. If you have a flexible schedule and choose to spend this time running, you may have to spend the later hours of your day, when your mind is less clear, doing the high-cognition tasks that are best knocked out of the way early in the morning. Some individuals may experience an increase in fatigue later in the day due to pushing themselves in the morning, and some may feel more steady throughout the day – it’ll be up to you to find out how your body and mind react.
Running in the evening: Pros
If you run immediately after waking, you will likely be doing so fasted. Waiting to train until evening allows you to dial in your fuel hours beforehand. This may be key for those whose body performs best with some amount of food in their stomach.
Another benefit is that in the evening there tends to be more individuals out on the trails, roads, and in the gym. There are running groups like the Silver State Striders who run in the evenings on weekdays that you can join – check out their schedule here https://silverstatestriders.com/. You may choose to harness the social atmosphere by leaning into positive peer pressure to increase your performance. I can’t be the only one who runs with better form when I know I’m being watched!
Running in the evening window will allow you to draw your session out longer if you so choose, as you won’t have to clock in or drop the kids off in an hour. You could spend an extra 30 minutes stretching or pushing an extra mile without a time constraint, potentially leading to increased well-being, health, and training progression.
Running in the Evening: Cons
You may have experienced working out in the evening and, rather than tiring yourself out, you are more alert afterwards and unable to go to sleep. This is due to your body releasing epinephrine/adrenaline in response to the stress that is running. Exerting yourself in the evening this way will ultimately shift your internal clock to stay up later at night and sleep in later in the morning. This can be undesirable for individuals who need to get to bed on time to get their full 6-10 hours. Yes, you’ve heard it before: rest is extremely important.
Lastly, after your day at work, your feet may be tired and achy. Your back and hamstrings may be tight. With a tired body, running in the evening could be physically more difficult than running fresh in the morning. That, however, may be a “pro” rather than a “con” – you’ll be proving to yourself that you can run even when your body and mind are fatigued, even after 8 or 12 hours of effort, and that can give you a mental edge in long races when you will feel heavy and beat but know for certain you have more to give. You will have been doing so after work every day for the last several months.
Everyone has different work and life demands. Everyone’s body is different. The best approach is to try both routines for two weeks each and see how your body and mind react. It’s not a cop-out: the most important decision factor is what schedule will be most enjoyable and frictionless for you, so you fall in love with showing up each day for years to come.