Some runners swear by morning runs. For others, their day isn’t complete without a group run in the evening.
There is no single ‘best time’ to run.
I’ve read any number of studies that have claimed to find the ‘right’ time to run, however, for every study saying morning runs are best, there is another study saying you should only run in the evening. Heck, one recent study said mid-morning is the best time to workout.
There just isn’t a way to determine what is objectively the ‘best’ – there simply are too many variables.
When Is The Best Time Of Day To Run?
However, there likely is a best time for you to run.
A time of day that works best (subjectively) for you, that works for your schedule, the logistics of your life, and your fitness goals.
Usually, your calendar drives the time of day you run, but there are other factors that could sway your decision.
Morning runs are great, but mornings arrive so early…
- Your day can’t get away from you, your run is done before ’emergencies’ crop up and pull you away from running
- It sets a great tone for the day
- It’s an energizing way to start the day
- It’s cooler in summer or in hot climates
- It provides a sense of accomplishment and gives you serious bragging rights
- You need to wake up early (and your bed is just so warm and toasty in the morning)
- Finding enough time to do longer runs
- Looking presentable if you have morning work or appointments
- Timing of prerun fueling and hydration can be tricky
- Poor sleep can negatively impact your run
- It’s cold and dark in winter
- You’ll be starting cold, and it can be tempting to cut short your warm up to save time. Warm-ups are especially important in the morning
Amongst the runners I know, lunchtime runs are the least common.
They can be a great way to break up the day and prevent an afternoon slump, but if you work in an office, your co-workers may not love you getting all sweaty at lunch.
- It will energize you for the second half of the day
- You’ve had a chance to warm up your body
- Timing can be tough if you are doing a longer run
- Looking presentable for the rest of the day
- For office workers:
- No (or limited) access to a shower or changing facilities
- If you run during your lunch break, you still need to find time to eat
For many people with 9-5 jobs, late afternoon or evening runs are realistically the best option to fit their run in.
- It can give you a chance to blow off steam (especially if you had a bad day)
- It’s the best chance to run with others, especially larger group runs
- Daylight (in summer)
- It is easy for your day to get away from you. Due to ’emergencies’ or unexpected activities, you may ‘need’ to skip your run
- It takes time away from non-running social activities or family time
PM Maybe Pro/ Maybe Con
This impacts different people in different ways: Running in the evening can impact your sleep.
Some runners find it easier to fall asleep after they’ve exhausted themselves on a run, while others find it hampers their sleep.
In the informal poll of my running club, we were split about 40/40/20 (helped sleep, hurt sleep, didn’t notice an impact either way).
In the end, the ‘best’ time for you to run is whatever time you’ll be able to commit to and do on a regular basis.
When planning your run timing, get creative and try out a few different options – you may just surprise yourself with what you like.
When I worked a 9-5 job, I would run at night because I couldn’t run at home, shower, and get to work at a normal hour due to traffic.
But after a few years, I got creative. I joined a gym close to work, commuted into work super early (avoiding traffic), ran in the city, used the gym to shower. Much to my surprise, I loved it. I beat the worst of the traffic, and I got my run done by 8:30 am.