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Some runners prefer night runs over running in the early morning or daytime hours. This could be due to a tight morning schedule, eating habits, or a preference for the energy in the air as the end of the day draws near.
Continue reading to learn some of the advantages of nighttime runs as well as a few safety considerations to keep in mind.
1. Encourages healthy choices
Running at night may help you eat healthier throughout the day, knowing that whatever you eat, especially in the hours before you run, will need to be digested.
If you find it easier to run on an empty stomach, you may find yourself reaching for light, easy to digest foods and avoiding fried, heavy foods.
Plus, you may be less tempted to have an alcoholic beverage at dinner. Opt for healthy, hydrating drinks, such as coconut water, herbal teas, or fresh juice instead.
2. Eat during the day
Nighttime runs allow for ample time to eat and digest your food before running. This is ideal for people who don’t enjoy running on an empty stomach in the morning, yet find it challenging to run right after eating.
3. More time
If you have a busy schedule in the morning, missing your alarm a few times can cut into the length of your workout. You may even be tempted to cut it out on days you sleep too late.
Night runs are ideal if you’re busy during the day. They may allow for a more relaxed morning.
You may have fewer distractions and interruptions in the evenings, so you can focus on your run and perhaps get in more miles.
4. Sleep better
People who exercise at night may experience more deep, quality sleep. You may find it easier to fall asleep and sleep deeper.
Night runs are ideal for people who feel tired after running, since often it’s more convenient to sleep after a run later in the day.
Research from 2019 found that exercising in the evening had a positive effect on sleep. However, exercising less than an hour before you go to sleep may negatively affect certain sleep patterns.
Taking a hot shower or bath after your run may help your body and mind unwind and sleep more deeply.
Always finish your runs with a cooldown to ease your body into a resting state.
5. Relieve stress from the day
Finish your evening with a clean slate before you drift off to sleep. Running gives you the chance to release any tension, frustration, or stress from the day.
You can also use this time to create a plan for the following day. That way, when your head hits the pillow, your mind may feel more clear and at peace, making you less likely to ruminate or feel distracted.
Running lowers your blood pressure, eases muscular tension, and promotes a sense of calm. The release of endorphins boosts your mood and alleviates depression.
Hitting the pavement alleviates anxiety and activates mindful awareness, leaving you with a clear head and a general feeling of relaxation.
6. Warmed up and ready to roll
If your muscles and joints tend to be more stiff, inflexible, and tense when you first wake up, nighttime runs may be more ideal.
Your body may not be ready for intense exercise first thing, especially if you have any medical conditions that cause stiff joints.
Often, by the end of the day, your body is warmed up and ready to go. You may have stretched out any crooks or kinks, lowering your chance of injury or overexertion.
You may find that you have better muscle control and coordination at night, too. Plus, you’ll have more time to warm up before you run.
Once the sun sets, it’s more difficult for you to see holes, bumps, or ice in the road. Be hyperaware of the terrain you’re covering.
Invest in a running headlamp. Stick to well-lit areas. Buy nighttime running gear, or attach high-visibility reflective bands to your arms and legs.
8. Listen up
Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open so you’re fully aware of your surroundings.
Avoid using headphones. They can hinder your ability to hear approaching vehicles, people, and animals.
If you must run with headphones, keep them at an extremely low volume.
9. Choose the path most traveled
Run in areas that are well-lit and have plenty of activity. Choose areas that feel the safest to you.
Trust your intuition if it tells you to not go down certain streets, even if it means altering the course you have in mind.
Switch up your running route often so it’s not predictable.
10. Stay in touch
If possible, find a running partner at night, even if it’s a canine friend. Let at least one person know you’re running so they can expect you back.
Carry your phone so you can call someone if you get stuck in a downpour or run into any type of troubling situation.
Plus, you can upload a medical ID and use a GPS safety app that lets your friends and family know your route.
11. Road rules
Run against traffic so you can see vehicles coming toward you. Look both ways before crossing the street, even if you have the right of way. Follow all traffic rules, signs, and signals.
If you’re not a morning person and the opportunity for early runs is passing you by with each press of the snooze button, it’s time to change your plan.
It all comes down to what you prefer, along with considerations like the weather and your schedule.
If you feel your runs are becoming a bit repetitive, trying out a new time may be a great chance to switch gears.
Take note of how your body reacts to running at different times of the day. You may find that nighttime runs are best done at a low intensity. Some runners find that intense runs and interval training are best done during the middle of the day.
If you want to step it up a notch, you can run more than once per day, experimenting with different types of runs at different times.
You can run at any time of the day. It’s also fine to run every day, as long as you don’t overdo it.
Take into consideration the pros and cons of running at night, and figure out what works best for your body and schedule.
Create a training plan to help you reach clear, attainable goals, whether you want to improve your mental health, endurance, strength, or weight management. Stay consistent in your approach to maximize results.
Reevaluate your goals every few weeks, and adjust accordingly if needed. Above all, listen to your body, and take time off to rest when necessary.