When I saw that Jason Blacker had written a blog post for runaddicts.net entitled “What time of day should I run?”, I couldn’t help clicking over to take a peek, even though I already had a pretty good idea of what the article would say: "Run whatever time you like! There is no best time!"
That’s true, but most runners have their favorites. Mine varies, though, depending on the time of year and on the current rhythm of my days. As the article says, early morning gives you the advantages of the quiet of dawn and the elation of being done with a run before the day has really even gotten started. Midmorning often means avoiding rush hour. Early afternoon can give you a needed boost of energy to get through the rest of the day. Late afternoon or early evening is often a good way to transition from the workday mindset to relaxation time. The later hours of the evening, if you are fortunate enough to have a running route where darkness isn’t an insurmountable obstacle, has its own magic: like dawn, it tends to be a quiet, private, nearly secretive time to be out.
Some of my most memorable runs have been memorable specifically because of their time frame. Once before a full day of air travel, I started my run at 4:40 a.m. It was cold and dark and really not much fun, but I spent the rest of the day in airports and on planes with the satisfaction of knowing I’d already fit in a workout, and it was probably the longest turnaround time I ever had between one day’s run and the next day’s run. The latest I ever remember going out was at about 9:45 p.m., one hot August night when my son and I were running every day together. He had wanted to wait until after his baseball game; but once he was rested and fed, he realized he’d left his running shoes at a friend’s house across town, so out I went to pick them up. Running that late, although odd, wasn’t bad that day, though: the August heat and humidity were finally subsiding after a very warm day.
These days, my favorite time to go running is midmorning on a weekend and just after my daughter climbs onto the school bus on weekdays. One of those preferences has physiological origins and the other is psychological in nature. Midmorning on a weekend, after a filling breakfast and a large mug of coffee, just seems to be when my energy is highest. Weekday mornings after Holly leaves for school is when I feel most free, with the whole workday still stretching ahead of me and with the knowledge that I’ll probably have an uninterrupted six-hour stint for writing once I finish my run.
Ultimately, just about every runner would probably agree: there is no bad time to go running. Run when it’s convenient and safe for you. Experiment with different options. Enjoy the differences: quiet, noisy, warm, cold, busy, relaxed. Have fun, no matter what time of day or night it may be.