Morning Runs vs. Evening Runs

As an old Packer fan, I recall that Vince Lombardi used to exhort his ball carriers to “run to daylight.” Had he coached marathon runners, I’m going to guess that his charges would have been told to “run in the daylight.” I’m pretty sure most of us would choose the option of daytime running over nighttime running even without such obvious advice.

Unfortunately, the winter solstice is upon us, and that means that we have very little daylight right now. Some fortunate souls have the luxury of flexible schedules and the freedom to run at any time during the day, but most runners under the age of 60 have to choose whether to run before work (or classes), during lunch hour, or after work. And, unless your employment or class schedule gives you a fairly long lunch hour (as well as a place to shower after running), the choice frequently comes down to running in the dark of morning or the dark of evening.

Which is the better option?

Personally, having had to train both in the wee morning hours and in the after sunset hours for extended periods, I’d choose to run in the morning. This is just a personal preference, and each option has its advantages.

(This week, I’ll summarize some of the advantages of an early morning run as compared to a late evening run. Next week, I’ll look at the other side of the debate and point out some advantages of running after work or classes.)

I can easily think of four advantages for the morning run.

  1. Most people have more energy in the morning. I know, I know, lots of people find it really hard to wake up, but once out on the road your body is fresher and your mind is more relaxed than after a long day at the office.
  2. Traffic is almost always lighter in the early morning than after five o’clock, and the drivers usually seem to be a bit mellower then.
  3. After you finish you get breakfast, and if you’ve put in several miles you can justify eating a larger breakfast. (Breakfast is one of my three favorite meals!)
  4. Maybe the most important advantage is, unless you’ve done a very hard workout, you’ll arrive at the office invigorated and ready to take on the day.

I could add one more positive, but its validity depends on the actual time you start the run and how long you go. Dawn is on the way! The sky will be getting lighter as you run. In fact, if you start running at, say, six o’clock, visibility will be improving with the passing miles. At night, it just keeps getting darker and darker.

I’ve already confessed that I personally prefer mornings to evenings, so I’ll have to be more imaginative for the counterpoint next week. I’ll think of something though.

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