Running In The Shadows
I was approached by Running Malaysia magazine to write about the topic of Night Running, and it was a privilege to have my finished article first featured in their Issue No.22 of July/August 2017.
After some minor Editorial Updates, I am posting this article in my blog now to share my personal views on “Night vs Day” Running which I hope will help clear some of the myths surrounding this less explored subject…
Day Vs Night
Normally, running or any form of exercise is best done in the mornings because firstly, we perform any physical exercise better after a good night’s sleep, and secondly, there is nothing like a refreshing morning run to jumpstart our metabolic rate and keep us energized for the rest of the day.
However, this does not mean that we should not run at night at all. On the contrary, there are times when we need to run at night too. So, in this article, I want to highlight the key differences between night and day running, and dispel the myths of night running with the sole intention of making your running experience more effective and more enjoyable, Day or Night.
Timing Is Everything
Time, and in particular, how we manage our time is the key to determining whether we should run during the day or night. Of course, we all have 24 hours in a day, and accordingly, we all follow our personal set routine. For practical reasons, some of us slot our runs first thing in the mornings before we go to work or before we start going about our daily chores. For others, running in the evenings after work, or when they have completed their daily tasks, is more doable. Thus, our personal lives and daily schedule will dictate when we can run. As a fitness coach, my goal is to help people find the exercise and running schedule which best fit into their lifestyle. Therefore, in terms of health and fitness, it doesn’t matter if you run at night or during the day, as long as you just do it Safely and Effectively.
Biological Clock Is Ticking
I believe that the human body functions according to our inbuilt biological clock which is divided into three 8-hour shifts in a 24-hour day as follows :-
From 12pm to 8pm, this is the best time for our bodies to eat our meals and consume the right kind of nutrition, and in the right amounts, for our bodies to function at its optimum level.
From 8pm to 4am, this is the best time for our body to rest, digest and absorb all the nutrients derived from the food we have consumed.
Finally, from 4am to 12pm, that’s the best time for our body to eliminate and expel the toxins from our body.
Being aware of your biological clock and to give your body what it NEEDS at the RIGHT time is important to make the BEST of your run, day or night. In other words, plan your daily activities, including running, in accordance with your biological clock if possible.
HEALTH TIPS – Avoid eating late meals after 8pm or the calories will turn to fat; get enough rest and don’t sleep late after 12pm; and make sure you have enough fibre in your diet to induce bowel movements (detoxification) before noon.
Again, it doesn’t really matter if you run during the day or night, as long as you take care of your body and health first.
Moonshine Or Sunshine
Many of my running buddies prefer to run in the MORNINGS because;
- It is more peaceful with less people and less road traffic
- The morning air is fresh and invigorating
- It jumpstarts their metabolic rate and keeps them energised for the day
- It is more cooling in the mornings
- Their schedule is free in the mornings
Similarly, I have met certain runners who will only run at NIGHT because;
- They hate waking up in the morning
- They hate running under the hot sun
- They have free-time only in the evenings
There is also a third group of runners who don’t distinguish between night and day running, and they will run ANYTIME and ANYWHERE because they love running for the sake of running. I would put myself with this group of hardcore runners! Nevertheless, I understand and accept the opinions and preferences of other runners because running is a universal activity which transcends age, gender, and socio-economic barriers.
Twinkle Little Star
If you are of the nocturnal persuasion, here are a couple of safety precautions which you should take whenever you hit the tarmac after dark:
- Don’t run alone, and instead, run in a group or with a running buddy
- Tell your family member whenever you go for a run
- Avoid dark and secluded areas
- Wear highly visible clothing
- Carry your handphone in case of emergencies
The above nightly precautions also apply to running in the wee hours of the morning before dawn.
Dispelling A Common Myth
Meteorologically, there’s nothing peculiar about running at night, but there is ONE part which many newbies misunderstand at first. Have you heard someone say, “I prefer to run at night because it’s too hot to run during the day”? Well, the bad news is that it can be equally hot during the night because the heat from the concrete and tarmac rises and it will hit you like a hot furnace. Furthermore, without the sun’s dry heat and in the absence of any wind, the night air can get very humid and sweaty which in turn will lead to a heavy loss of bodily salts and electrolytes by runners. Therefore, you should drink the same ADEQUATE amount of water and electrolytes during a night run as you would a day run.
The only real advantage of running at night is that you don’t need to worry about the harmful effects of UV rays.
Light Up The Night
The good news for nocturnal runners is that there is an increasing number of running events nowadays taking place on Saturday Nights.
If you’re looking to join a well organised Night Run Event, I can recommend the spectacular Putrajaya Night Marathon on 4th November 2017 which includes categories for Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 10km & 5km. Plus, with 12,000 Runners participating, you will never Run Alone. For more information and to register, http://www.twentyfirstcenturysports.com.
If running at night suits your lifestyle, then rest assured that you can enjoy the same health benefits as your daytime counterpart as long as you are not afraid of the dark 👻…
To the best of my knowledge, all of the information provided herein is accurate at the time of publishing and the views expressed are based on my own personal opinions and findings, and they don’t necessarily reflect the views of the Product Manufacturer, Event Organiser or any Third Party unless explicitly specified otherwise.
About The Author
Gus is the Founder of Running Toons and a HIIT Fitness Coach. As a freelance WRITER, he has contributed numerous insightful articles to The Star newspaper, Running Malaysia magazine, Cycling Malaysia magazine, Cycling Evolution magazine, Swim Bike Run magazine and more. LIKE Happy Runner for RUNNING UPDATES, Gus Rider for CYCLING NEWS, Gus Ghani for SPORTS INFOTAINMENT and FOLLOW gusghani @IG for LIFESTYLE.
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