Versus #2: Night and Day

Today’s “Versus” topic pits owls against larks as we take on morning vs. evening running.

PicMonkey Collage4

For those of you new here, I just recently started a weekly mini series where I am exploring several classic running debates (even though most of these are more personal preference than debate). I’ll give my take on the subject and then it’s your turn: chime in in the comments, or on your own blog, with your take!

This is an interesting topic for me to comment on because I am actually in the process of transitioning from one to the other! So, I’m in a unique position today to lay out the benefits of both AM and PM running, instead of just one or the other.


In all of my time as a runner, I have always been an evening runner. The only real reason being, I am a night owl by nature and getting out of bed really early in the morning is just not easy or natural for me. Remember that being a night owl or morning person has a lot to do with our biological clocks and how each of us are wired – so rising early is just not as easy for us owls as it is for you early birds! For many people, the time of day they run is borne out of necessity – family and work obligations have to dictate the schedule – but I have the luxury of letting this be a personal preference decision.

Here are some of the reasons I’ve always liked PM Running:

  • After a day’s worth of being up and moving about and getting that blood circulating, my legs are awake and ready to run. I have the hardest time getting my muscles to wake up in the AM, even if I warm up first
  • Evening running is a nice “release” after a long or stressful day at work
  • I like when I can relax and have free time after a workout. When I’ve run in the AM, I didn’t like being under time constraints, being rushed as I got ready, and knowing that I couldn’t relax after I was done because I still had to go to work all day. It was kind of like a cloud looming over me as I ran.
  • I don’t have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn


When I start marathon training in a couple weeks, I will be making the transition to AM running. I’m doing this because I realized that if I want to be productive and consistent in my training, I can’t keep fighting this mental battle with myself every day trying to muster up the will to get to the gym or hit the road after a long day of work when all I want to do is go home. I’m also sick of trying to make a plan and constantly having to twist and turn and move things around because of things that come up on weeknights. It’s just getting to be annoying and exhausting. I want – I need – to make use of a time of day that has no interruptions and I can get my workout done for the day so I don’t have to fight with myself about it later.

With that said – and to get myself motivated to make this admittedly daunting change – here are some of the benefits of AM Running:

  • Frees up my evenings! Don’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts interfering with training runs, so it will be much easier to stick to a schedule
  • I love the feeling of knowing I can go home after work and relax because my workout is done for the day and I don’t have to worry about it
  • I love the sunrise!
  • Morning is quieter and less crowded
  • Workout endorphins give a nice productivity boost going into my day

I would add the argument that running in the AM primes me for success since most races are in the AM, but I’ve always been a PM runner and always preformed very well in early morning races. Maybe I’ll change my tune if I see even better performances on an AM running regimen, but from my experience thus far, I think race performance has much more to do with other factors such as training, fueling, and warming up properly. At least for me.


YOUR TURN: Are you an AM or a PM runner?Β 

Morning person or night owl?


22 thoughts on “Versus #2: Night and Day

  1. Fun post! To answer your question: neither and both! I work independently/from home and have for the last year or so. I prefer write for a few hours in the morning and then run before lunch, then get back to work. I put my long runs in the morning to try to simulate races. Sometimes my pre-lunch run gets crammed out and I move it to pre-dinner, but I almost never run after it’s dark out.

    1. You are one lucky duck! I’m so jealous that you get to work from home and set your own schedule like that, although I’m sure it has its own unique challenges!

      I sometimes run in the later morning/afternoon on weekends or when I have a day off, and it usually does not go well. I think because my body is so not used to running at that time of day.

  2. I am definitely a morning person. I would not be able to fight the mental battle to go run in the evening. I am one of those people who goes until they run out of steam…so in the evening I often fall asleep on the couch!
    That being said, with my “driving duties” I go running right before lunch time…In the spring when I start coaching again, I try and run earlier to allow myself more of a break in between runs!

    1. The mental battle to work out in the evening is tough, but unfortunately I am no match for Morning Brain. I think if I had more of a routine, or family obligations that forced me to run at that time, it would be easier. But when I’m only accountable for me it’s so easy to hit snooze :-/

  3. When people ask me when the best time to exercise is, I always say, it’s the time when YOU feel the best, whatever works for YOU. For me, that is getting my training done in the morning. I feel so accomplished afterward- like I can take on the day! Plus after a day of teaching, I am EXHAUSTED. I can imagine waiting until 7 or 8pm to get my workout in. All I want to do then is crash.

    1. I think there is a lot of pressure because we’re constantly reading articles/studies/advice that say “you have to work out THIS time of day for all the benefits!” When really, the best time to work out is the time when you’re more likely to actually DO it!

      Oh my goodness, if I were around little ones all day I’d be too exhausted to run too! I have an office job, which is probably why my body is ready to run at 5PM

  4. Love this post!! You know how much I love the mornings, but I’ll say it’s much easier for me to run fast in the PM. Jesse is trying to get me to go to our tri club’s track night, and as much as I hate running after work, I may give in. I’m really interested to see how you feel about this transition!

    1. I’m thinking of keeping my speed/tempo workouts in the evenings for this very reason. And, let’s see if I can actually pull off this transition first – it won’t be easy, especially trying to start in the dead of winter! Ugh!

    1. Me too! I have to say, I’m surprised how many of us are self-identifying as night owls. I thought a LOT more people would be morning runners! Like I told Kristina below, I think that might be age related, as I’ve noticed that as people get older they generally tend to become more morning-oriented (and think back when we were teens how hard it was to get out of bed before 10AM!). Although I know in your case, other things like family duties also play a role. I’m learning so much through my Versus posts!

      1. Ha ha, I’m totally going to take that as a complement…that I’m young πŸ˜‰ I’m not sure if I will ever be a morning person, even with little kids…ha ha. I’m sure one day (when I’m a little older) I will start running in the mornings. I love your Versus posts – so many thoughts and considerations into each side!

  5. I guess I’m a bit of both since I do my weekly runs at night but my weekend runs in the morning. It’s SO HARD for me to get up for those morning runs though. It helps that Sundays are long run day which means I can take my time waking up and easing into the run. It also helps that I know I can come home, shower and take a nap! If I could do that on weekdays too I might just become a full time morning runner! haha

    1. I have to say, I’m a bit surprised at how many people have said they too are night owls/evening runners. I really thought there were more morning people out there! I think a lot of that has to do with how young most of us are – I’ve noticed that as people get older they tend to become more morning-oriented.

      Ironically, I could never get up early on weekdays to do 5 mile runs but I COULD get up even earlier on weekends when I didn’t have to for long runs! I think it has to do with your point that it’s easier to get up that early knowing I can come home after the run and sleep more if I want πŸ™‚

  6. Both! I run in the evening during the week and in the morning in the summer. During winter I usually run later in the day during the weekend because I don’t have to worry about the heat. I am not a morning person at all and, given the choice, I will ALWAYS choose extra sleep. So if I tried to run an hour before work, I would just end up sleeping an extra hour and running after work. I know this because I tried to switch once and could not make it work.

    I do start work at 7:00 so that I am out the door at 3:30 and have plenty of time after work to run. Since I HAVE to go to work, I can make myself get up early. But if I know I could sleep in and run later, I will choose sleeping in. Good luck making the transition!

    1. We are birds of a feather! Honestly, I would have no problem with this approach (I managed to train for my last marathon this way), but it is just getting so much harder to make sure I can get my workouts in on weeknights and not skip them. I don’t get off work until 5, so when I run in the evening, between getting ready, running, and showering after – most of my night is gone. And I’m just getting sick of constantly trying to jockey things around evening activities/commitments that come up. I know mornings wont be perfect either, but I think that will be a much more sustainable training time for me.

  7. I find all the comments interesting because for me it’s not about sleep or getting out of bed (which can be a challenge) but food, water, and weather!! My ideal time to run, if I had a choice, is 10:00 am, so I can get up, eat breakfast, and then wait a few hours before running. I dislike running first thing in the morning as I always feel so dehydrated and hungry. Plus, I hate that you’re naturally slower in the morning if you run right after waking. I once read somewhere that it takes at least 2 hours for your body to be awake and ready to run, so I definitely stick to that when racing. The cooler weather in the morning also makes it easier in summer, but harder in winter. That being said, most of my runs happen in the morning or lunchtime based on work and family schedules. Occasionally after work–but I also wrestle with the internal voice all afternoon that tells me it’s okay to be lazy and skip it!

    1. I think a good compromise for me will be to shift my easy runs and long runs to the AM (it might actually force me to truly take them easy!), and keep my speed workouts in the evening when I can run faster.

      I have tried lunch time running, and it usually goes well but after 2x changing clothes, getting into and out of the building, warming up on the stairs, and getting cleaned up, I only have time for 4 miles max. Better than nothing but I’ve found that it’s often not the ideal way to get in a quality workout.

      Interesting that 10 AM works for you, I’ve found that’s one of the worst times for me – probably because my body is not used to running at that time. It will be interesting when you run Boston at like 1PM on a Monday afternoon!!

  8. Oh I’m a night runner all the way. I LOATHE getting up before work to get a run in and my body just does not respond well. I know lots of people who feel energized for the day when they get a morning workout in, but I just end up feeling drained. I’d love to train myself to run in the morning to free up my evenings, but I’m just not at that point right now. Maybe one day!

  9. I am an early riser but NOT a morning person. But I definitely have transitioned to a morning runner, for the most part. But then again, sometimes an evening run just hits the freaking spot!

  10. I am an evening runner and a night owl. I can’t stand getting up early in the morning. That said, I do wish I could because I love the idea of having the run done before work and just being able to head home after work. However with my commute, I would be getting up at 4:30 or sooner. 😦 Ouch. Good luck with the transition!

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