Part 1 – The Perils of an AM/PM Runner

A while ago I polled Facebook-land about why morning runners like getting up at the ass of dawn and why evening runners like drudging through the day with the impending run looming over them. It was some pretty insightful stuff. Check it out.

ampm fb

As a night owl, the purpose of the focus group was two-fold : to gain insight for this post (which I had planned on going up 9 days ago), and in hope that a lightbulb would go off in my can’t-get-out-of-bed brain and I’d miraculously turn into a morning runner overnight.

Only one of those things happened.

I do TRULY wish I was more of a morning person and could knock those miles out before the sun rises or I’ve had the chance to wreck my GI tract with poor food choices that make for burpalicious evening runs. Also, I’d like to say “can’t, gotta run” to a lot fewer impromptu happy hours.

But, I just can’t justify the benefits when that first (and second, and third, and fourth – I’m a compulsive Snooze’r) alarm goes off. I know eventually it’ll become habit if I pull my sorry carcass out the door enough times, but the desire to do so is just not quite strong enough to overpower the gravitational pull of body-to-bed.

Yet at least once a week I set an early alarm(s) with the good intentions of a pre-work sweatfest, and – unless someone is out there waiting for me – 97% of the time I’m all,

“mmmm but sleep is so nice… bed is so comfy… I’ll have time to do it later… just keep sleeeeepinggg… ZZZZZZZZZ”

In an attempt to turn a corner and earn a claim as at least Part Time AM Runner, I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of each type. Some from personal experience, some inspired by the wise Facebooker’s, some because Brian has threatened to kick me out if I disturb his slumber with ONE MORE pointless alarm…

So, in Part One of which I can only imagine I’ll figure out how to defy logic and turn into more than a two-part series on how I’ll either convince myself to rise with the sun or continue tasting my dinner on runs, the Cons of being both an AM and PM runner…

AM PMconsclick for larger image

Insight? Arguments? Suggestions for the pros? (right now I’m stuck at “it’s done!” and “sleep in!”)

Sarah OUaL

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38 thoughts on “Part 1 – The Perils of an AM/PM Runner

    • I totally agree. I love running in the morning because it puts me on track, mentally, for the day — but also like it because physically I feel the best since I’m on fresh legs and an (almost) empty stomach. I usually have a piece of toast and coffee before I set out.

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  1. I’ve always been a night runner but have tried so hard to become a morning runner. The thought of going straight home after work to the couch or straight to HH then to the couch just sounds SO appealing, but I just cannot drag myself out of bed at 5-something and make it to work by 8 a.m.

    Basically I just want to be lazy all hours of the day.

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  2. I am a pre-dawn runner. I like to be out of my house by 4:30 during the week, and on the weekends, if I’ve got to run 18 – 22, I will leave my house at 3:30. I don’t think I’m a “morning person” (and I’ve run with my shirt inside out MANY times) but I don’t think I’m a “night person” either. What I do know is that I despise running in the evening. I hate knowing I still have to do it when I’m done with a harsh day at work/issues with the kids, yadda, yadda, yadda — not only that, when I run early it’s like I’m the only human being alive (although I usually see other runners after 5, definitely by 5:30). I can run in the street if I choose to and I’m alone (except for the crazy dude delivering newspapers) — in the evening, especially in the summer, there are kids with balls, moms with strollers, dogs — it frustrates me. Another pro to morning running (for me) is the natural high that I have for most of the morning because I ran –not to mention if I want to go to Happy Hour after work (as you said) or go home and sit on my ass in my pajamas, I can do it, because I ran already. This is clearly my 02 cents, but I do totally get wanting to stay in bed. . . . there are mornings I do that too and then I either don’t run in the evening (and feel like a loser) or I run in the evening and bitch and moan the whole time. No win for me. I prefer mornings. Good luck :)

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    • THIS. Exactly.
      I used to HATE getting up early to exercise. Pre-kids I liked going to the gym after work, and so what if my husband and I didn’t go out for dinner until 9pm?? But out of necessity (ie kids) I started getting up early to exercise and now I’ve done it for so long that I’ve grown to hate exercising in the evening. Sometimes it still works out that I go then – like if my husband is out of town and I don’t want to leave the kids while they’re still asleep – but I just feel sluggish and tired and usually traffic sucks then too. And seriously, there is nothing better the cup of coffee I pour for myself after I’ve knocked out seven miles before 7am!

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  3. Since I get off work at consistently 5pm every day, I’m a fan of a light snack then heading out to run after work before dinner. That being said, if it’s winter and dark out at 5pm, I’ll get up stupidly early and run on the treadmill before work. Then I’m too sleepy to care that I’m running on the treadmill. I sure as hell not running outside in the winter in the mornings. Too cold.

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  4. I’m an evening runner. I have a fast paced, stressful job so use a workout right after finishing work to destress and forget about work life. I also love that it keeps my eating a bit more on track during the day. Ever burped a cheese burger for an hour? Gross.

    I WISH so much I could workout in the morning so I don’t have a run looming over me all day, but the reality is if the worst thing I have to look forward to is a run I love, my life is pretty damn privileged! I just can’t justify getting out of bed at the asscrack of dawn to be cold and uncomforable and tired. I think before I get to the end of the street I’d run smack into a tree.

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  5. Hmmm, over here in the UK – i prefer morning runs in Summer – but then running on light summer evenings would be bliss, we’ll see! Can’t get out of bed on winter mornings when it’s dark and gloomy outside, and my boyfriend also hates my 3000 snooze alarms, esp. as I hardly ever get up to them, oh well?!

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  6. I’ve been trying for WEEKS to become a morning runner. Then, Tuesday, I slipped back into evening running, and it was like the heavens smiled down upon me. I’m just not built for am running. The evening run was the light that rekindled my love.

    One thing I found, was when I run in the morning, I am FAMISHED all day, and it’s waaaaay harder to refrain from eating whatever-the-hell-I-want because I already ran. If I know I’m running at night, I have enough sense to eat a reasonable lunch. Basically, I’m saying I gained 3 lbs by morning running for 2 weeks.

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  7. Doesn’t work for looooonnnnnnngggggg runs, but lunch is the best time for me. Coffee/breakfast in, GI business done, rest of the day to work/happy hour/lounge/eat my face off.

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  8. I do both, but if I’m running alone I prefer the morning. I get up at 6 (not super early), I have a reason to take my shower (super sweaty), wakes me up (I’m energized till lunch), I don’t have to worry about what I eat and I have it out of the way (HAPPY HOUR). I have a few run clubs I join at night, otherwise I’d probably bail on the runs. Depending on how late I run, it makes it hard for me to fall asleep at a normal hour and I end up eating super late, neither of which I like much. Also the weather helps determine when I run outside. Middle of the summer I’ll run in the morning to avoid the 100s and in the middle of the winter I’ll do my long runs early afternoon for the peak heat of 32.

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  9. I have dabbled in both AM and PM running times. During this past summer I had to get up for work at 5:30, getting up any earlier was not happening. So at 3:30pm I hit the pavement. It was usually pretty hot outside, but it wasn’t terrible. But I did feel rushed all the time in getting home at a decent time to still enjoy the night. Which is why I’m an AM runner. Getting my run out of the way seems to make my whole day better. Although getting up early isn’t too fun when you’ve had a little too much happy hour the night before ;)

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  10. There is one big reason I am an evening/after work runner (except for long runs on weekends)- because there’s daylight in the evening. If I wanted to run before work, I’d have to run in the dark. Not only am I scared of the dark, but I live in a rural area and I don’t really care to know what roams around before the sun comes up. It’s also too cold in the winter for me to drag my butt out of bed to go for an AM, pre-work run. This probably doesn’t help you any, but figured I’d share.

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  11. I’m pretty much a PM runner, sometimes I get a wild hair and will make it to the gym before work, but I am not a morning person and love my sleep too much.
    The good thing about running in the morning is that it’s done and when you get home from work you have an extra hour to spare, the bad thing is you have to get up super early, you may be running in the dark and it’s too damn early (sorry definitely not a morning person).

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    • Ohhhh I used to love running at lunch! Such a great way to break up the work day and I wouldn’t have the 3pm slump. Unfortunately my office is in an industrial park where there aren’t any sidewalks and too many semi trailers.

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  12. Awesome post! Loved this. I am fortunate enough to be able to be a mid-to-late-morning-runner most of the time, (a la 10:30 am start time, I know, it’s awesome) but I do occaisionally pull out both the early morning (5:30 or 6:30 start) and the evening (queen of the 6pm Monday easy run to allow for more time between Sunday long run and monday run). If I did have the normal 9-5 job (instead of the random ass hours but usually 2;30-8/9ish) I think I would become a runch runner, even though that sounds kind of dirty ;). Can’t wait for the Pros post!!!

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  13. I am not a morning person by nature, but I have to be now that I have kids. I have no energy after work any more and my runs in the mornings are just…better. But, if I had my youth – you better believe I would be running at night. So I vote for you to enjoy your youth and your night runs. And wake up early every now and then (or fit in a lunch run) so you can go to happy hour :)

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  14. I set 4 alarms this morning & still ended up sleeping in. I don’t mind running in the morning in the summer but not in the winter. I generally prefer to run in the evening when I don’t have any homework or to study but if I do then I hate leaving my run to the end of the day. It’s all quite stressful for me really.

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  15. I honestly go back and forth, but recently have been running at night since I go to crossfit at night. It fives me enough time in between workouts for recovery. Tomorrow will be an exception when I get up at the crack o dawn (4:30 am) to knock out 19 miles before driving to Seattle. I have to run early so that I can get my dogs to the groomer by 9 am. UGH.

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  16. DUDE. I was just thinking about this today. I am in your same boat. I probably make it to a morning run once a month MAX. I think if I had the luxury of getting out of bed and taking thirty minutes or so to “wake up” I might be a better morning runner, but I am just in a rushing frenzy in the mornings! And I DON’T like to rush my runs.

    It does suck to run after work though when I’m either STARVING or STUFFED. Totally agree with you there.

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  17. i’ve also had this internal debate several times!

    i’m in law school so my circumstances MAKE me a morning runner – here are my thoughts!

    -pros: future run not looming over your head all day, runner’s high-ing all day if it’s a good run, having the entire evening free to do what you need, justifying that you can eat whatever you want all day (maybe that’s just me).

    -cons: safety!!, longer warmup to wake up your body, being so groggy/tired that it’s a shitty run, being pissed / disgruntled all day long when those shitty runs do happen, and let’s be honest, getting out of bed sucks EVERY single time no matter how many times you do it.

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  18. I mix it up with am/pm runs. I like morning runs better because then it is done and over with. You don’t have to worry about it all day!! But If I plan to meet someone either in the am/pm it is all the better and it usually doesn’t matter that it is am or pm!!

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  19. You’ve already said all the reasons why I run in the morning. So I can have more of a social life at night, I don’t have it looming over me all day, I can eat what I want the rest of the day, I only have to take 1 shower. Although my ‘early’ isn’t as early as yours prob is. Maybe you can reward yourself for getting up? haha I’m sorry… I’m no help.

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  20. Since I started working from home, I became a mid morning runner, which is AMAZING. When I had a job where I had to be at work by 7:30, I could motivate myself to run in the morning if I knew that I could not run any other time. Or if I promised myself I didn’t have to run fast. Allowing myself to be lazy while I was running was pretty effective, and really, I would end up running hard anyway

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  21. Zombie running can be kind of fun. By the time you’re fully awake, you already have a couple miles done!

    It does just take practice. Once you get used to having all kinds of free time after work, running during that time starts to seem unfathomable.

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  22. I prefer to sleeprun the first half of my workout so morning running works for me.
    But honestly, I am a night owl by nature. If I had my way I would sleep until about 8, lay around a bit then head out on a run. Well actually If I had my way I would have been born with mad running skills that would allow me sleep and still get fast ;-)
    It took me a long time to really form the morning habit and part of that transformation came when I started forcing myself to go to bed early.
    Early to bed, early to rise<——truth.
    Aaaand having kids. The only real time I have to get in a good quality run is before the crazies are awake.
    So I say, do what you wanna do, while you can. If night running works for you, stick with it. There may come a time when sleeping in isn't even an option so soak it up!

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  23. I’ve tried morning running for years. The fact of the matter is, I can’t run fast (comparatively) in the a.m. no matter how hard I’ve tried. I’ve looked at my paces and compared them run for run, so evening running is def. better for my body.

    You’re not alone in wondering about this, I believe there have been many scientific studies on the best time of day to work out!

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  24. I do both, mainly AM runs ,mostly for safety reasons, in the winter. I run down a street and then a crowded boardwalk and then a bike lane on the coast so it is MUCH safer for me to run in the dark pre-dawn with a headlamp for 10-20 min and then run during dawn than to run after work and risk getting hit by a car distracted by the sunset or because I forgot my headlamp (took me a while to get used to the dorkiness of the headlamp). Also I like morning runs because I don’t have it looming over me – I’m much more likely to miss a workout if I schedule it for the night.

    Biggest tip I have for being an AM runner is to GO TO BED EARLY. I go to bed between 9-10 p.m. and when I wake up at 5:30 on those 9 p.m. nights I’m literally jumping out of bed for run! Going to bed at 9 isn’t as big of a deal if you don’t have a workout the night before keeping you up late.

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  25. I used to be an evening runner. After some experimentation with wake up times, I’ve learned that my body takes about 45min – 1 hour to really be awake, so basically I get up (and to avoid my S.O. leaving me I wear one of these vibrating wrist alarms – http://lark.com/ – SAVED OUR RELATIONSHIP), do the banana (when running over an hour)/coffee/bathroom-reading thing and then head out.

    When I’m back, I eat a recovery breakfast, shower, and jet to work. I live in a major city so there’s little chance that I’m running alone in well-lit areas. After the long work day I go home and VEGETATE or if I’m lucky, socialize.

    The major con to the morning routine is that I’m not really able to stay up late or sleep in anymore. Yep, even on my rest day mornings I wake up around the same time and shake my fists to the sky. And now I’m the first to leave a party; if I do manage to stay up past 11pm, then hello, being in your 30s! My body takes a day or two to reset.

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  26. I’ve become something of an evening runner. I’m not 100% comfortable in the dark cause I feel like lame-ass drivers aren’t looking for runners and then my kids will be orphans. :( But that “me-time” is super important to the well-being of said children.
    For long runs, must be early-morning weekends. The guilt and shame of bailing on my long-run is all that gets me out of a warm bed.

    Having an evening run looming helps keep me more accountable with my food & water intake to avoid the sloshing and burping. So while that’s not so fun, it’s good in the long run (word play intentional).

    All that being said, I never regret getting my jiggly butt out there for some sweat time.

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  27. I’m a night runner, I’d LOVE to be one of those peppy morning people who jump out of bed and go on a run and come in and drink a green smoothie and bounce about their day….but I just’t can’t. Can’t. No way, no how!

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