When Is the Best Time to Run? Your Workout Question Answered

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Running Sunrise Sunset by Seth Macey
Photo: Courtesy of Seth Macey

There’s no doubt that running is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and get in shape, which is why lean machines like Miranda Kerr, Heidi Klum, and Reese Witherspoon are often pictured pounding the pavement. Most runners have a favorite time of day to run, be it before their morning latte or after a day in the office, but have you ever considered the pros and cons of the different times? Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, or a (faintly terrifying) combination of the two, here are the pros and cons of your favored running time of day.

In the Morning

Pros:

  • On a primal level, it feels enormously satisfying to greet dawn in the open air with a burst of physical activity.
  • It’s a good way to wake up.
  • Your body burns calories faster on an empty stomach.
  • It’s quieter outside. You can be alone with just your thoughts and the sounds of birds singing.
  • A morning run gets it out of the way early – you can face the rest of the day with a significant task already achieved.
  • Yanking yourself out of bed and out into the morning sun builds mental strength.

Cons:

  • Your body temperature is low in the morning, so your muscles are stiff and you’re more likely to cause injury.
  • Statistically, you’re also more likely to suffer a heart attack or a stroke.
  • You could spend that hour in bed.
  • The rest of the day can stretch long when you’ve already run several miles before breakfast.
  • If you fall over in the park or on the beach, how long will it be until someone finds you?

In the Afternoon

Pros:

  • Your body temperature is higher, and studies show this makes athletes perform better.
  • If you always run during your lunch hour at work, running will never eat into your family or leisure time.
  • An early afternoon run breaks up the day, allowing you some space for thought.
  • It’s easier to motivate yourself to get out there once you’ve been up and about for some hours.

Cons:

  • You’re going to end up having two showers in one day, because smelling anything less than fresh is just not an option.
  • Do you have an early lunch or a late lunch? Making an afternoon run work can be complicated.
  • It’s peak heat time. Need we say more?
  • An afternoon run on the weekend makes any substantial daytime activity unfeasible.

In the Evening

Pros:

  • What a nice way to ease out any stresses of the day.
  • While you’re running, you can’t be doing any unhealthy evening activities, like eating pizza and ice-cream, watching re-runs of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or spending hours online shopping.
  • There’s something rather nice about getting into bed with your muscles tired and that post-run glow still bright.
  • Once the sun goes down, it’s cooler – apart from in the Dubai summer, obviously.

Cons:

  • Motivation can be tricky – you just might not feel like it after a long day at work. If you’re looking for some more demotivation, read this feature. It should do the trick.
  • It can be depressing to run when it’s dark.
  • Some people find it impossible to sleep after an evening run.
  • It’s anti-social. You won’t be going to Zuma before or after a run.

Whether you decide to roll out of bed and onto the running track or to don your sneakers at sunset, channel your inner Usain Bolt and get those legs moving to be on your way to a fitter, healthier you.