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Today, I am going to discuss the pros and cons of running at different times of the day. For many beginners, and even seasoned runners, ‘what time of day should I run’ is a frequent question.
When is the best time to run? In this article I hope to answer this question, or at the very least give you some information to help you decide what’s best for you. Though in all honesty, I must confess to being a daytime runner. I seldom run before 10 AM or after 6 PM. This is my personal preference, but putting this aside I will objectively strive to discuss the merits of running during each part of the day.
Many folks enjoy running early in the morning.
I often see runners at 5 AM and 6 AM, when the air is cool and the streets are quiet, and the sun is barely blinking its eye above the horizon. I can understand the attraction of running at early dawn.
It is peaceful and quiet and serene. Arguably, as there is very little traffic to be concerned with it is also fairly safe. Additionally, running when it is cool and the sun is barely above the horizon protects you from overheating and possible heatstroke, especially in the warmer months.
However, living in Calgary up in Canada, the winters are long and harsh and it is frequently -40°C before the sun rises. This climate creates additional concerns such as frostbite and slippery, icy roads and pathways.
Running in the middle of the day much like I do also has its benefits.
I consider the middle of the day to be anywhere from 10 AM to 3 or 4 PM. As I am not a morning person, my body is stiff and takes a while to warm up once I am awake.
In the winter months with the sun shining on you it is also a beneficial way to get some vitamin D.
Also, during this time there is no peak hour traffic to contend with and so safety is not too much of a concern. In the summer months however, the middle of the day can be extremely hot, which can cause dehydration and perhaps heatstroke.
How about running in the evening or late at night?
I would suggest not running between the hours of 4 PM to 6 PM (unless you live in a rural area), because the amount of smog created as traffic congestion peaks.
From 6 PM onwards the traffic lessens and the evening is cool which allows the body to run at peak performance. Once again, running at night can have its challenges, especially if it’s dark. It is of paramount importance to wear reflectors and brightly colored clothing.
In the cold winter months however, running at night can create the same difficulties with exposure to cold and slippery conditions as can be found in the early mornings.
Whether you run the end of the day or at the beginning of the day, the choice is yours.
I don’t think there is any ‘best’ time of day for every runner.
In fact, I sometimes run at different times of the day, depending on my mood and/or work and family commitments. Personally, I love to run when it is warm outside as it doesn’t affect me detrimentally. Other runners prefer to run when it’s cooler in the early mornings, or early evenings, and this is fine as well.
So, whatever time of day you choose, it’s the right time of day for you. Just be aware of some of the safety issues and any other concerns that might be particular to that time of day.
Bearing this in mind, any time of day can be a terrific time for a run.