When I first decided to take running seriously, I embarked on some research so that I may make the most out of my runs. Among my burning questions were, “What’s the best time to run?”
Before sunrise or after? What about at night? Before or after meals? Should I run when I’m having my period? All I wanted to do was to run fast, run safe, but there seemed to be so many considerations.
Before or after daybreak
Running before the sun rises means you get a more cooling environment, less distractions from traffic and pedestrians, plus you get more out of your day. I loved the fact that by the time I’m done, most of my neighbours are still sleeping while I’ve already boosted my metabolism for the day! Besides, most races are held in the wee hours of the morning, so running when the sky is still dark prepares you physically for races. But ever since some suspicious people have been found loitering in my neighbourhood at night, I’ve been given a parental ban from running alone early in the morning. Also, right after you wake up, your body temperature is at its lowest and your muscles are stiff, making it prone to injury. Therefore, proper warm ups are absolutely necessary. Environmental conditions may be good, but safety should be of utmost importance. And warm up!
Some feel there are less mental considerations when running as a conclusion to a day, because there’s no worry about returning home in time for work, or if one will be too tired to carry out subsequent activities. Run, return home, shower, and sleep. Sounds like a plan, no? Safety concerns as mentioned above aside, I actually hardly run in the evening or at night. It makes me too energetic to sleep early. And since I live near an industrial estate, the air is usually pretty polluted by the end of the day. Still, I often hear of friends who conclude their days with runs or jogs, and they sleep really well because of exhaustion after that. To each his own, try and see how your body feels!
Before or after meals
Running before meals means your body burns whatever is stored, instead of whatever has just been ingested. Therefore if you’re looking at trimming fat, run before you eat. And please eat healthy after you run. No point going for a jog to try to lose weight and then scarf down an Extra Value Meal after that. I’ve tried having breakfast (bread+milo) 30min before a morning run, and it feels horrible. I felt sluggish, got stitches, and gave up sooner than planned. But running 2 hours or more after meals has worked fine with me. Regardless, before a run, have some water so you’re hydrated. But not too much that you get distracted with the urge to pee while running. Leave sufficient time for digestion before running, and stay hydrated.
More valid for the females, but possibly valuable information for guys with ladies in their lives. I’ve read that several marathon records were broken by ladies on their period, so the monthly red tide shouldn’t be a reason to not run. It’s also proven that on the first day of the menstrual cycle, more calories are burnt than average, so running (or exercising in general) is more effective as you burn more fat while building muscle. Of course, there are times when you just don’t feel like running, or when you’re experiencing cramps, so give yourself a break and rest. You can always make it up another day when you’re feeling better! Periods shouldn’t matter, but know your body.
Reading up for answers was indeed educational, but there are always multiple sides to each point so it boils down to weighing personal pros and cons. And with variable schedules, sometimes it is just not possible to stick to an “ideal” time to run.
One day, I came across this quote that read, “You will never regret a run.” Bottomline, whenever you feel like it, keep yourself safe and Just Run Lah!