What time of day should you run?

Jun 11, 2021

When is the best time of day to run

Morning, noon or night, when is the best time to get your trainers on and hit the road or treadmill?

Now, if you’re like me and the thought of getting up with the sparrows to run sends your body into a spin, then maybe the early morning option isn’t for us. However, many people find this wake-up call leaves them alert and ready for the day. If you’re outdoors, the early morning natural light can help wake you up and release “feel-good” hormones.

What one needs to remember is that after a nights sleep, your body temperature is low and the body is “tight”. Joints, muscles and ligaments are not as warmed up and pliable as they are later in the day, so your risk of injury is increased and it may take you longer to get going and warm up. Early morning runs may also feel like more effort as oxygen flow to the body is slower due to the lowered metabolic rates after sleeping, as well as less adrenaline circulating in the bloodstream. All that being said, many people prefer to get their training done before the day gets in the way and as Ingrid from our “been-there-done-that-panel” said “if I can’t go then, I write it off for the day”.

Perhaps the lunchtime getaway is more your thing. The body has a natural lull just after lunch, called the post-prandial dip, and some people find the lunchtime run helps keep them alert for the afternoon. It’s a great excuse to get out of the office and have some team building with co-workers. However, depending on your lunchtime allocation, facilities, fitting in a run, shower and food, may be challenging. Just remember to eat after your run to avoid an uncomfortable pit stop along the way.

The late bloomer. Generally speaking, if you were looking to get a best performance this would be the time to pick. From a physiological point of view your body is at its peak, making exercise feel easier. Psychologically though, there’s a catch. Many people find it tough after a long day of work to be motivated to exercise. It’s one of those times where you need to “dress up, show up” and once you’re going it will go well.

For the night owls like me, you may prefer to get the day done before exercising to avoid feeling rushed or edgy about things that still need to happen. Personally, I find this helps clears my mind which leads to a better nights sleep. However it may be a late night as exercise increases your body temperature, heart rate and may stimulate your mind which, for some, may not be conducive to sleeping. Make sure you leave enough time before bed to digest your evening meal (at least 2 hours).

A couple of other things to consider are your goals:

  • If you’re training for weight loss, a fasting early morning or late evening run (at least one hour after eating your last meal) has increased fat-burning benefits.
  • If you are training for performance or to test yourself, your late afternoon sessions would be ideal.

But let’s be honest, most of us don’t have the option of choosing what time of day we’d like to exercise, and all in all, anytime is better than no time. So pick the time you are most likely to get it done and have fun with it.

Nicola Macleod

Nicola Macleod is the owner of Body Innovation. Her experience over the last 12 years includes being a qualified Biokineticist, Sports Massage and strength training specifically for rowing, locally and internationally. She also presents Sports Massage Courses. Read more about Body Innovation here.

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