Many people don’t think about or plan when they will run; they just know they’re going to run on a given day. A training week with three runs could occur at three different times; one in the morning, one in the evening and one mid-afternoon.
It may be surprising, but the time of day you choose to run is hugely important in relation to the benefits you’ll gain, your likelihood to develop self-discipline and consistency and your overall life satisfaction.
Bold claims to be making, but – as you’ll see – they are all well founded claims.
Morning Runs vs Evening Runs
Whether you run for fun, an event, for fitness and health or to challenge yourself, you’ll probably fall into the morning or evening camp.
Being in the evening camp means running anytime between 5PM and when you go to sleep, typically AFTER work, school, or looking after your children. The evening run will probably be the last productive thing you do, and it might be getting dark. Motivation levels may be dwindling, particularly after a tough day.
Being in the morning camp means running before 12PM usually BEFORE work, school or your household responsibilities. Morning runners tend to get themselves up earlier, run in peace and quiet – when the world is waking up for the day –, tend to eat a decent breakfast and feel more motivated for their day.
Set your alarm clock and become a morning runner!
Mornings are best
Whatever camp you’re currently in, mornings are the best time to run. You’re more likely to go for the run, you’ll burn calories faster, feel more satisfied with your day, develop discipline, improve sleep quality, be more productive, be more likely to eat a good breakfast, feel happier and appreciate the peace and quiet morning runs bring.
Sometimes you may need to be an evening runner
Maybe your part of a weekly club or running group who run in the evenings, you might need to wake up early to travel somewhere (work, a family vacation, to an event) or you have an important morning commitment one day (like an exam).
Everyone has individual circumstances, and there are times when you may need to substitute a morning run for an evening run occasionally. For maximum benefit, keep your runs to the morning.
1. Morning runs enhance your productivity for the day
Think of how productive you feel when you just roll out of bed, get ready then face your day. Chances are, not too productive. You haven’t done anything too major or demanding, meaning you haven’t built any momentum to propel you through your day. It can be hard to find motivation in these instances.
Running as soon as you wake up sets you up for massive productivity for the rest of your day.
Getting up, running, eating a decent breakfast, are all important tasks which will help you achieve a goal in life, like losing a certain amount of weight or running a marathon etc.
An important task like this, is essential for building productive momentum for the rest of your day. Suddenly, calling a client or solving that maths problem or taking your kids to school doesn’t seem such a challenge; running early means already in the mood for getting stuff done.
Run early to build momentum and have a productive day.
2. Kick start your metabolism
In your body, chemical reactions occur constantly to keep you alive and functioning properly. These reactions are referred to as your ‘metabolism’. You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘metabolic rate’, which is the rate at which your body converts food to energy for it to function properly.
When you run, your metabolism increases significantly because your body requires more energy (calories) to perform, which is why running makes you lose weight. The increased metabolic rate during exercise lasts a few hours even after exercise has stopped.Increased metabolic rate means you burn more calories even when you’re not active.
Also, your bodies demand on energy supply makes you hungry thus regulating your appetite so you eat at appropriate times during the day and don’t skip a meal.To lose weight and regulate your appetite, run in the morning.
3. Morning runs builds discipline
Getting up an extra hour earlier than usual to go for morning runs is not a walk in the park for most people. It requires a huge amount of self-discipline to not hit ‘snooze’ and physically get out of bed, put on their clothes then head out the front door.
Initially, early starts can be challenging but after a few times it will come as second nature. You will start to build self-discipline and subconsciously associate the alarm bell with getting up and going for a run.Even if you don’t feel like it, you’re tired or you’d rather have 5 more minutes in bed, your self-discipline won’t let you.
You’ll remind yourself of your ‘why’ to stay motivated and go for the run; are you running for health, happiness and more energy? You won’t have any excuses.Overriding your biological impulses to procrastinate and take the easy way out, building true self-discipline to achieve your running goals, will be incredibly valuable for other areas of your life.
Studying for an exam, working to a tight project deadline, organising a holiday, sorting out your finances, learning a musical instrument, all require huge amounts of self-discipline, but they promise life changing benefits.Run in the mornings to build self-discipline. You won’t regret it.
4. You have more willpower in the morning, you’re more likely to run
Will power is your ability to control yourself. It could mean deciding to do something meaningful in the present, delaying immediate gratification like social media, unhealthy foods or a comfortable bed, for the betterment of a longer-term goal.
For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight for a holiday and you’re presented with a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit, having willpower means you can control yourself and choose the fruit. Your willpower on any given day is like a battery supply. At the start, it’s full and you have a better ability to make decisions in your best interest.
Every decision made depletes willpower a little bit more, and by the end of the day our ability for self-control is severely reduced. Running in the morning means your willpower reserves and full and you’re likely to have more self-control, and actually go for the run.
It’s easier to skip an evening run and relax, because you’ve been making willpower depleting decisions all day. It’s better to get up early and run when you have the most will power. You’re more likely to override the convenient bed or social media, you know aren’t going to benefit you, get out the front door and go.
5. Enjoy the peace and quiet
Life for the modern world person is extremely busy with a lot of separate things demanding attention. Commuting, a career, maintaining relationships, social media, the news, studying for exams, sports team, being in a band. All examples of how our time is filled up.
With so much going on, it’s incredibly valuable to have a quiet moment to yourself regularly. Early morning runs are the perfect opportunity for quiet time.
Running early in the morning, when the world is waking up, means you can enjoy some peace and quiet. Waking up before everyone else means you have some quiet time to yourself to get ready, think about your run, then head out.
Early morning runs mean less cars, sparser pavements and fewer loud noises (construction/ people cutting grass etc). The quiet highlights calming sounds from nature, like the birds singing or -if you run by a river – the ripples from a stream.
Grab the opportunity to get up early and run in the morning for some peace and quiet; doing so sets you up for a busy, productive day.
6. Improved mood for the rest of your day
Running in the morning sets you up for a happier, more positive day. Running – like other forms of exercise – releases a storm of feel good chemicals in the brain.
Dopamine for feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, serotonin for positive mood regulation and endorphin which reduces our perceptions of pain.
Imagine what feeling happier and more positive could do for your daily life? You’d be more engaged in your relationships, be more optimistic, avoid other thinking, be more open to new experiences and deal with traumas and difficulties more effectively.
Running in the evening means you will get the improved mood as the day is ending, the wrong time, before going to bed!
Why not capitalise on the mood enhancing opportunity of morning runs?
Try it for yourself! Get up, run in the morning and notice your mood improve. Easy as 1,2,3.
7. Sleep better
Getting outside early does wonders for sleep. Chucking the running shoes on early means you will find it easier to get to sleep, and your sleep will be deeper and restore your body more. Lots of your bodily processes (circadian rhythms) rely on a properly regulated sleep/wake cycle i.e. going to the toilet, body temperature and cortisol.
Getting up and running early means you get a hit of daylight which your body relies on for proper regulation of the cycle. Running in the morning, getting a dose of sunlight, synchronises your body to the environment. You’ll feel awake during the day and tired during the night. You will sleep much better.
Running in the evening can mean a reduction in sleep quality. If you run a few hours after dinner, you run the risk of going to bed with depleted nutrient stores meaning your body can’t recover properly, you’re might wake up starving or even during the night for a midnight feast. Not ideal.
Evening runs means it can be harder to drift off when you get into bed. The powerful cocktail of feel good neurotransmitters running around in your brain equates to energy pulsing through your veins. Your body is hyped for further activity and sleeping is the last thing on it’s agenda.
There’s nothing worse or more boring than lying there quietly, eyes closed body still, waiting any moment to wake up into the next day, but sleep seems impossible.
Run early for reliable, high quality sleep.
8. Satisfaction in completing the run
Running in the morning guarantees a baseline level of achievement and satisfaction with yourself, regardless of the rest of your day. Getting up early then going into the world to run before your day requires effort and is meaningful, and you experience some pride.
Even if you have “one of those days” where things just don’t go your way, you’ve still accomplished something important.If you miss your train, stumble through a presentation at work, argue with your kids or your spouse, breakdown in your car, or forget something important, you can go to sleep with some satisfaction. Safe in the knowledge you’ve voluntarily put yourself through the paces of an early morning run.
Always look on the bright side of life! Run in the morning to make sure you guarantee yourself some self-pride, even if the world isn’t in your favour on one day.
9. Forces you to eat breakfast
Running in the morning creates a necessity for you to have breakfast. Having breakfast is extremely important; it kick starts your metabolism and gives your body food to fuel it properly, whilst giving your body what it needs to recover after the run.
After having a run, your appetite will be greater, and you will be motivated to eat something. Not eating breakfast is not a good idea and usually attributed to “not having enough time”, “focusing on getting ready”, “not being a morning breakfast person” or “not enjoying breakfast”.
Those who voluntarily skip breakfast to “lose weight” often overeat come lunchtime to compensate. Not only do they lack vital nutrients to fuel their day, grogginess and irritability are also common symptoms.
Running in the morning makes you more likely to eat breakfast which is why you should make it a habit.
Healthy fats and protein after your run only!
Relying on a carbohydrate fuel source post run, means your blood sugar levels will spike and you’ll momentarily feel highly energised only to crash and feel tired.For a sustainable, reliable source of energy eat mainly healthy fats and protein like eggs, cheese, nuts and Greek Yogurt.