In terms of performance, the best time of day in a few books & articles is 4-7pm – late afternoon to early evening. This is supposed to fit in with your body’s natural daily cycle, hormones and energy levels.
Ironic really that most races seem to start at 10 or 11am! If you are training for a morning race, do try to fit in some training sessions in the morning. This will enable you to check on your day’s plan for the race – especially timing for breakfast! For example, I know from experience that if I am running at 10, I need to drink something other than my beloved expresso before 8:30am. I also know that I operate better on my normal bowl of lazy porridge than on a bigger breakfast. Everyone is different for food and liquid intake – use training timed at the same time as your race to get a routine planned that will work for you and your body.
However, the best time of day to run is whenever suits you best. If you are a morning person, try running before work or after you’ve dropped the kids at school. If you operate better later in the day – and can fit the run in easily – that’s when to run.
Integrating your running with your schedule is important – if this is difficult, you are less likely to make it out running. Some ideas on integrating:
1. If you walk the kids to school, try going in your running kit & run home, perhaps taking a slightly longer route. If you drive them, try going straight to a park afterwards for a run
2. If you have access to a shower at work and the distance works, try running for your commute. One way of doing this (inspired by my sister’s cycle commute plan!):
a. Monday morning– drive in with your running kit plus work clothes for Tuesday.
b. Monday evening – run home
c. Tuesday morning – run to work
d. Tuesday evening – drive home.
3. Make up a week’s plan to your running. Ensure that it actually works with your diary!
4. State of mind – Lucie, a former WRN-er, had a great way of describing a running session – “30 minutes is Eastenders”. Try to think of your run as “me” time – it can be a great opportunity to think through something.
5. Don’t dismiss running in the dark – later running can work well for people with small children – once kids are in bed & partner is home, go then. Ideally, buddy up with someone in a similar position to make it feel safer and more sociable.
6. Take the dog – combine walkies with a run.
7. Join a running club...
I’m sure all of you could add a few more to this list – it’s what we all do!