What is the best time of day to run: morning, afternoon, or night? Get expert advice from Tagalong Pro Running Coach JJ Santana. John (JJ) Santana is a distance runner who qualified for the US Olympic Trials running the 2019 California International Marathon in 2:17:26. He graduated from Southwestern College and is affiliated with Las Vegas Gold. He resides in Las Vegas and works with runners of all ages through Tagalong to help them get faster.
Here’s JJ’s advice:
When is the best time of the day to run? My advice depends on why you are running.
If you are planning to compete in a race, especially a longer event like a marathon, the best time to run is at the start time of your upcoming event. Practically speaking, if the race you plan to compete in starts at 6:00am, the best time of day for you to run will be 6:00am. Make sure your “race pace” specific workouts are done as close to the start time of your event as you can. The goal is to get your body as adapted to race day as possible. If all of your workouts are consistently done at 6:00am week after week after week, your body will instinctively know that 6:00am is go time!
If you aren’t planning to compete and are running for fitness or pleasure, it’s best to take your lifestyle and commitments into consideration. If you work a full-time job, which is the case for most people, I highly recommend running early in the morning before work as opposed to late at night when you get home. Getting up early, you will generally have more energy on your runs as well as feel better throughout the day. Also, because our circadian rhythms, getting up and exercising with the sun is just naturally better for us than getting out late at night in the dark, especially after a full workday has drained much of our energy.
Laine Maher, Marathoner and Professionl Rower, suggests that during your workout, “make sure you use slow breathing when the tempurature’s low. Breathe in and out through your nose to help keep you warm. Keep your breath calm and fill your lungs deeply to create warm and efficient air.”
Professional Runner and 3x Olympic Trials Qualifier Jack Bolas adds, “Dress for temperatures that are actually 10 degrees cooler because your body will warm up as you exercise. If you’re doing a hard workout, layer up and wait until you’re ready to start that first rep before trimming the layers down. Make sure you take time to properly cool down even after a hard workout in cold weather. That easy jog for 10 minutes is vital to recovery.”
“It’s extremely important to have dry clothes for immediately after a cold weather workout,” concludes Professional Rower Maggie Fellows, winner of bronze and silver medals at the 2019 Pan American Games. “If you sweat at all during the workout, it is very easy to get chilled if you stay in the same clothes afterwards. Putting on warm, dry clothes absolutely takes priority over refueling and stretching when workout temperatures are low.”
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