In this short article, we look to provide information about the benefits of night running.
I recently went for a run around 10 am and was shocked by how bad I felt. I felt sluggish, slow and I struggled to get my breathing right. After my run was over I felt really disappointed because I'd been jogging really well in the weeks leading up to it. After finishing I sat down and figured out what had happened. I realized that my body just wasn't used to morning runs. It had still been 'waking up' when I set off at 10 am that morning. That was the first-morning run that I'd been on in over a year and I felt it! I figured that there must be other people out there that have had similar experiences with their runs.
Being the researcher that I am I decided to look into the topic of choosing the right time to run. I found out some interesting things which I've shared with you below.
To get the most from your runs you need to go by your internal body clock or circadian rhythm (CR) — This is a 24-hour pattern of rise and fall in your core body temperature, hormone levels, breathing capacity, reflex, strength, and energy stores. All of these factors influence your run. The core body temperature peaks around 5 to 7 pm, starts dipping with sleep onset and hits its lowest at 5 am.
When you plan your runs around the time that your body temperature is at its highest you maximize your performance. This is because of increased blood flow, optimum energy and stamina and better functioning of both muscles and joints.
On the other hand, if you are one of these people that prefer to run in the morning then that's ok. If you feel fine running shortly after waking up then there is no need to change.
After all, there are still many benefits of running in the morning which include:
- Peace and quiet
The streets can be a lot quieter in the morning making your runs more enjoyable and stress-free.
- Weight loss
It has been proven that running first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is beneficial for weight loss.
- Boosted mood
Running in the morning sets us up for a great day. The endorphins released during a run leave us feeling energized and alert.
Some of the setbacks of morning running include:
Finding the motivation to get up early in the morning can be challenging. Most people lack the energy and motivation to get up extra early for a run.
All of your body functions are slower first thing in the morning. This can cause the muscles to be stiff, which can lead to injuries. For this reason, it is important to warm up thoroughly before running in the morning.
- Poor performance
Running straight after waking up normally means that you wouldn’t have eaten since the night before. This results in lower energy stores and poorer performance.
If on the other hand, you are struggling with either your morning or mid-day runs it's highly likely that this is due to you running at the wrong time for your internal body clock. Try running between 5 and 7pm when your internal body temperature is at its peak.
Running at night is not only beneficial for reaching peak performance. There are other benefits of night running which include;
- Better sleep
A study conducted at the University of South Carolina found that 97 percent of people who chose to exercise at night experienced an equal or better quality of sleep in comparison to when they exercised during the day. It is important to note that there is a fine line here. Running too close to bed can actually hinder sleep, but running between 5 and 7pm can actually improve it.
- Helps to destress
Running in the evening helps you to destress after a long hard day at work. People often arrive home from work in a state of stress. Running releases endorphins that reset your mood and make you feel better.
- Evenings are beautiful
Who said that mornings are the most beautiful part of the day? Running when the stars are out or when the sun is setting can be magical.
- Healthier than watching TV
What would you be doing If you weren't out running at night? Most of us would probably just be watching TV. Whilst there is nothing wrong with that it's always good to have healthier ways to spend our evenings.
- It feels good
Going out for a run after being in an office all day can make us feel good. Stretching those legs is sometimes just what we need.
- Lower blood pressure
Research has shown that evening runs help to lower your night-time blood pressure.
- You can stay in bed
By committing yourself to run in the evenings you stop yourself from having to wake up at the crack of dawn to exercise. The extra time spent sleeping can help you to feel more alert during the day.
Some disadvantages of evening runs include:
A lot of people feel tired after work and struggle to run in the evenings especially when they've had a tough day. Running in the evenings can feel almost impossible for some people.
For some people who live in certain parts of the world running in the evening Is not safe. Running in the morning when it is light provides them with much more safety.
- Disrupted sleep
Running too close to bedtime can affect some people's sleep. Often our bodies our supercharged after intense runs. It can take a while for the body to calm down after these runs. Try to run no less than 3 hours before bedtime.
All in all, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. If you aren't suffering from any problems with your runs well done and keep it up. On the other hand, if you are struggling you might want to try switching your runs to a different time. Give it a couple of weeks for your body to adapt and then you can evaluate how you feel.