Runner Kate Carter schedules her runs after the sun sets and she has no intention of stopping now. Armed with a reflective hat and wearing the same type of jacket, the Londoner is a familiar sight on the darkest nights.
She has even become an advocate for nocturnal runs. She believes that if you stay mindful of circumstances and choose safe places to run, night runs are healthier than day runs and the scientific community agrees.
Are you eager to improve your performance and tap into your own body rhythms to do just that? Keep reading…
Who says night running is better?
For starters, scientists at the University of Chicago’s Clinical Research Centre conducted trial runs by wiring volunteers and recording physiological changes that took place during step machine exercises at all hours: morning, noon and night. Conclusions, that the body’s metabolism adapts better to evening and nighttime runs, surprised even the scientists recording responses.
Post-run blood samples taken from these volunteers offered more convincing arguments for running late in the day: elevated endocrine hormones like cortisol and thyrotropin, the harmful by-products of stress, aren’t nearly as high at night as they are during the day and the same goes for glucose levels, reports Dr. Orfeu Buxton, the man behind this study.
Dr. Buxton recently delivered a paper on this topic at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society. He admitted to being shocked by the large number of differences recorded between those who ran late in the day rather than earlier, and his research is likely to reverberate throughout the worldwide sports community, offering proof to those who already run at night that they’ve been on the right track all along!
When Night Owls fare better than Larks
The birds and the bees notwithstanding, scientific minds studying why some people perform better by night or by day seem to be everywhere these days. As a matter of fact, researchers who study both have even given them names: larks (early risers) and night owls.
While there is no shortage of theories about why people perform best at either time of day, night owls seem to be endowed with a genetic propensity for performing better and this advantage seems to hold benefits beyond running:
- While night owls are as healthy, wealthy and wise as morning folks, say epidemiologists at England’s Southampton University, night owls tend to earn more money and become wealthier than early birds, so the disposable income factor alone is on the side of night runners who can afford the very best new gear.
- You already know that running success depends as much on mental prowess as fast legs, and intelligence tests given to volunteers by University of Sidney psychologist Richard D. Roberts and Air Force Research Lab’s Patrick C. Kyllonen proved owls are smarter on all levels: math, reading, memory and vocational skills. This study is particularly fascinating in light of the fact that these IQ tests were administered in the morning!
- Night owls, says chronotype pioneer Dr. Christoph Randler of Germany’s University of Education Heidelberg, “Have more game.” You may be pleased to learn that “game” referred to by Dr. Randler is comprised of two categories: sex and sports. Night owls attract more members of the opposite sex than larks, and they perform better in bed, too.
- Night runners have an advantage over day runners because of the influence of global warming. Days heat up faster, say scientists tracking 50+ years of temperature changes on Earth. Since night temperatures are more sensitive to the forces of climate, warmer weather at night when there’s no sun beating down to exacerbate fatigue is enough to convince many to run at night just for this reason.
Why you should run at night
Whether it comes naturally or you would like to make adjustments in your lifestyle to switch your running time, scientists agree that, given the will and a little time, it’s easy to acclimate oneself to a change in routine. Just ask shift workers who snag night jobs after years of daytime employment.
Switch up your schedule and discover the best reasons of all to run at night, some of which have nothing at all to do with science.
- You don’t have to force yourself to get out of bed at some outrageously early hour to hit the trail or street before you shower and put yourself together for a day job.
- At day’s end, you are already partially warmed up and fueled after moving around all day. Bodies are 20-percent more flexible at day’s end, too. Guys: testosterone peaks between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., so even your hormones want you to run later in the day.
- Blow off steam and stay healthier. Your boss is an idiot. Your colleagues are clueless. There’s so much to be said about blowing off the steam you build up during your work day with a night run, this particular point bears no further explanation.
- The Clinical Research Center at the University of Chicago has proven that late-in-the-day workouts are more intense that those in the morning because protein synthesis peaks in the evening at the same time your lungs are functioning at peak efficiency.
- Some of the best races in Singapore happen at night and this alone is reason enough to switch out your run times. The Colour Run, PUMA Night Run and OCC 3 Ten Golf Course Night Run are but a few of the events that turn ordinary nights into an extraordinary ones. Personal bests are set. Romances start. The magic of nighttime turns these events into wonderlands that have no equal when compared to daytime marathons!
What is your favourite time to run? Do you like running at night? Besides the scientific research, what is the reason that you choose to run at night?