I cannot definitely say that the early bird gets the worm.
I don’t necessarily believe you have to run in the mornings every day to run a great 5K to marathon but I do believe getting it over with early is a good thing.
There are many runners who loathe the mornings whereas countless others know that getting a workout in before breakfast is the best time, that it makes you feel productive.
Dean Karnazes, on his Runners World blog, wrote an article called Early Bird Doesn’t Always Get The Worm where he states that ‘studies’ have shown running in the afternoon is better then running in the morning.
The problem is no scientific studies were even given within his article. If you click on the link to his article you will see why I am still scratching my head here.
People want to have a connection to what they read and who is writing the content.
I was just struck by the fact that the article was all of about 200 words long and gave no feedback or proof to the claims Karnazes wrote about.
The majority of runners just want to enjoy what they are doing.
They want a simpler approach but many, if they read about someone talking about a scientific study, should at least have the courtesy of reading about the study referenced in Early Bird Doesn’t Always Get The Worm
Anahad O’Connor of the New York Times also mentioned the ‘studies’ in The Claim: Morning Is The Best Time To Exercise that running in the afternoon, preferably between 4 and 7 pm seems to be the best time for our bodies to work at full aerobic capacity, strength output and reaction.
What scientific study is making the claim?
I had to dig deeper.
Christopher Calwell, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles ‘s Brain Research Institute, states that the heart, liver and the brain are all controlled by an endogenous circadian rhythm.
He conducted a study on mice which appeared in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of Physiology which basically states that exercise effects our circadian rhythms and that the afternoon is considered the best time, in terms of overall physiological output, to exercise.
If you want to read an outstanding article on AM versus PM running check out Gretchen Reynolds Why Afternoon May Be The Best Time To Exercise.
The Benefits Of Running Early
1. If you live in a hotter climate the benefits of running early in the morning are evident, lower temps, less humid (if you are lucky). I have lived in both hot and cold climates and know that running early during the summer months is a blessing.
2. You have your workout in for the day. Runners are going to train whenever it feels best for them, not on account of some scientific study. It is still helpful to research what some of the world’s top exercise physiologist say.
I prefer morning runs, ran the best solo 20-miler of my life starting at 5am averaging 5.30 per mile and finishing in 1.50.02.
I have not bettered that time yet in the afternoon. You have to go with what works best for you. For some, afternoons work better for their working schedule.
It all depends on the individual.
3. Research has shown that exercisers who train in the morning seem to be more consistent with their training then with their counterparts who train in the afternoon.
4. Working out in the morning is a great way to lose weight efficiently in that you are burning more calories the remainder of the day as opposed to waiting until the afternoon to do cardio training.
The downside to training in the morning is that you are training on mainly an empty stomach which means your energy stores may be low from sleeping through the night.
The run you do in the morning may feel more difficult then it would feel in the afternoon.
What Do The Studies Say?
In a recent study conducted in Tunis, Tunisia at the Sports Performance Optimization National Center of Medicine and Science in Sports proved in 10-11 year old boys that time of day effected anaerobic output.
The boys underwent four separate anaerobic tests involving strength and power.
The boys saw an increase a 5% increase in the jump test, grip strength improved by 5.9%, squat jump increased by 3.5% and performance increased 5.5% during the wingate test (which measures peak anaerobic output) from morning to afternoon
In a study conducted at the Quatar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital showed that we have greater maximum sprinting output in the afternoon as compared with the morning. They found no difference in fatigability though.
Of course, we are talking sprinting and strength here.
The authors of this study showed that there was really no difference in stamina and endurance in the afternoon regarding activities that involve submaximal exercise as compared to the above studies regarding maximum output like lifting, sprinting and other raw power events.
The Benefits Of Running In The Afternoon
1. Obviously running in the afternoon means you are more awake and alert for the workout. The downside is you spend the entire day knowing you have a run still to do.
2. Dr. Boris Medarov of the Jewish Medical Center in Long Island, New York, found that your lung capacity is actually 6 percent greater in the afternoon then any other part of the day.
There was another study conducted at a 2004 conference at the American College of Chest Physicians which demonstrated that lung capacity was superior in the hours between 4 and 5pm
3. Your body temperature is higher in the afternoon then in the morning so less time is required to warming up.
In closing, we all work best at different times of the day.
I loathe the early mornings but find great satisfaction in having 10-12 miles in before breakfast or having a 20 mile long run completed before the sun comes up.
I often feel lethargic if I wait to workout in the evenings after work and I always, at the back of my mind, try to keep in mind that in Kenya there are 13 year old girls running three times per day.
There are countless others rising before the sun comes up to run to school. So, what about the old saying that states the early bird gets the worm?
I certainly don’t think Dean Karnazes can answer this or anyone else can. There are people who work better in the afternoon and there are those who are razor sharp in the morning.
Whatever floats your boat folks, just have fun while your doing it.