It’s dark o’clock, which means it’s time for an evening run for at least half the year. It’s not ideal to always head out in the dark, but getting a run in whenever you can is ideal.
Is it good to run in the evening?
It turns out there are actually a number of benefits to evening runs for many people. So though you hear many of us talking how how we have transitioned to morning runs because that ensures we get it done… you don’t have to do that!
For years now, I’ve risen without an alarm clock, slipped on my running shoes and headed out to sweat.
But I have other friends who may not find time in their day until 7PM and if that’s all they have, then that’s what works! There are a few potential drawbacks to running late at night.
- Safety is often a bigger issue a night with more cars on the road – so get reflective running gear
- The increase in endorphins can make it harder to wind down for sleep – but not for everyone!
What matters the most to me is CONSISTENCY.
Research back in the 1980s showed that training at a specific time of day preferentially improves your performance at that specific time of day.
Now I find that trying to run much later in the day throws me for a loop. My brain isn’t ready, my body isn’t ready and yet…sometimes you gotta get in that run!
So whatever time you’d like to run, just try to be consistent for your body and brain to both get on board!
Benefits of Evening Runs
Let’s start with the motivation side of things because sometimes just flipping our mind set is enough to make the workouts easier to get done.
First thing in the morning and immediately after work there’s a massive influx of crowds at the gym, so if you’re hitting the cross training or snagging a treadmill the later evening time might give you some more flexibility and even the option to ignore the posted “30 minute cardio machine” limits.
A number of studies have shown that our bodies are primed for a harder effort later in the day.
Take advantage of that to get in your speed workouts or attempt those plyometrics that just sound too horrendous when first rolling out of bed.
Pound Out Frustrations
We know that running can be a great time to think and relieve stress…at the end of the work day it can also be a great time to let a little bit of those frustrations fuel you to push the pace or go a little further.
The bonus is not just a great workout, but getting those endorphins flowing so that you can let it go for a better night of sleep.
To the chagrin of many morning runners, most organized group runs are in the evenings!
So switching up your schedule gives you a chance to run with new people, enjoy this crazy run community and take advantage of their energy to push you just a bit harder some days.
How do You Prepare for an Evening Run?
If you’re a morning runner, there’s a routine that goes in to what you’ll be eating, when you’ll be stopping by the bathroom and just how much time to a lot for shower, dress, out the door.
Evenings means you have a whole day of potentially uncontrollable moments to impact your run.
Stay on Top of Fuel
After a full day, you’ve probably eaten, but might be in that gray area of not having truly fueled since lunch and not wanting to scarf down dinner before hitting the road.
Time for my favorite meal: the pre-run snack.
It doesn’t need to be large or super filling, just a little something to top off the tanks. Otherwise you’ll end up like my husband, who finds himself slightly dizzy from hunger at mile two and cutting the entire run short because the intensity hits the point where you might get sick if you don’t eat!
Grab a banana, a slick of bread with nut butter, a yogurt, a granola bar – something light and yes generally a little higher in carbs. After your evening run, then it’s right on to that perfect post run meal to help improve recovery.
DON’T let your late run cause you to just grab something quick, plan ahead for optimal food. You gotta feed your body well.
Don’t Neglect Electrolytes
Sip all day long and think about electrolytes.
Drinking tons of water flushes out the body, which is great until you start sweating and you have no electrolytes left to keep you from feeling lightheaded or cramping. Consider carrying an electrolyte drink on your run or using something like Saltstick tablets to stay on top of it.
Prepare for Any Weather
Morning or night, you don’t have much control over the weather, but it’s definitely key to check the weather before leaving home to ensure you have what you need.
An evening run also means you might get to skip some of the coldest winter runs by heading out around the warmest part of the day.
Don’t let yourself out of a wet run because you forget something to cover your iPod or a hot run because you don’t have one of the thousands of mysteriously vanishing ponytail holders.
- Have the right gear for running in the rain
- Keep a gym bag with a running outfit in your car or at work
- Have a good running jacket and you’ll be ready to tackle most weather
Especially important to remember that the temperature may drop quickly from your start to finish time as the sun fades. You may start the running feeling great in short sleeves, but need that favorite sweatshirt to get home without a chill.How to switch to evening runs after a summer of mornings?! Share your tips #runchat Click To Tweet
Never Skip the Warm Up
Just like the dynamic warm ups we need to do for AM runs, the body equally needs to be primed after work. Sure the blood is flowing, but you’ve likely been sitting creating tight hips and maybe making you feel a little lethargic.
During a workout, up to 80 percent of blood volume is shifted to the active muscles.
Warming up for 12-15 minutes helps the body transition from rest to action without creating stress on the organs or brain.
You’re almost always guaranteed a better run and worst case it becomes your “I’ll just do 10 minutes, then I can quit.” Which we all know is never just 10 minutes. Sleep vs Running
If you’re squeezing in a run at the expense of your sleep, then you might be better off long term getting the zzzz’s. Otherwise, as long as you finish your workout within 90 minutes or so of going to bed, you might actually sleep better.
All right there you have it, the short and sweet of how to prep mentally and physically to have a great run when it’s outside your normal routine!
How do you manage when you have to shuffle your normal runs?
Or do you run anytime of day?
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