Running can easily bring a person to nirvana on its own, but adding the practice to your nighttime routine can be even more rewarding. There’s something invigorating about running under the moonlight while most people are at home unwinding from a long day that makes you feel empowered, energized, and like you’ve discovered a secret that no one else has caught onto—yet.
Think about it: While someone else is pouring their second glass of wine, night runners are getting that same buzz from hitting the streets, minus the hangover.
Running at night doesn’t always get the best reputation, but if you have the right gear for running in the dark and practice caution, it’s a great way to end your day. Morning runners may be treated to picturesque sunrise views and the relief of getting a workout done early, but night runners have the opportunity to sweat off any frustrations from earlier in the day and end their evenings with a quiet, calm workout that can serve as a form of meditation.
If you’re curious about logging mileage after dark, you’re not alone. There are many reasons to lace up your shoes after sunset, from scheduling complications to feeling a flutter in your chest just thinking about dodging potholes and racing through noiseless streets like a superhero on a mission.
Below, we broke down the top 10 benefits of running at night. Try it yourself and reap the rewards.
Even the most well-intentioned morning runs get ruined by the snooze button. When it comes to night running, you're already awake—and those even texts and emails really should be put on hold until tomorrow. Think of a night run as your one opportunity to remove yourself from distractions and take time for you, and you'll be able to consistently run interruption-free.
By prioritizing your evening runs as 'me' time, you'll adopt a more consistent routine that won't be sabotaged by the snooze button. Consistent running is key to achieving your goals, whether you’re training for a marathon or getting ready for your first 5k.
Few things in life feel better than tucking yourself into bed after a good run. Worried that the endorphins will keep you up? A recent study at the University of South Carolina showed that people who participated in moderate to high-intensity exercise for 1-2 hours were able to go into a deep, relaxing sleep just 30 minutes later.
Photo courtesy of @the_mindful_runner.
We’re all familiar with the, “Am I being chased by a bear?” feeling (yes, even those of us that live in urban areas with a bear population of zero). As it turns out, there are some benefits to so-called “bear effect”. In a London University study, a group of marathon runners consistently ran at least a minute faster over a 10-km course at night than during the day—without trying any harder. According to one participant, "the evening run seemed easier, even though I was going faster."
@dhallenbeck starts at dusk and runs into the dark.
Instead of relying on your vision like you do when you run in the daylight, running at night forces you to rely more on your lower-level proprioceptive skills (where you feel your feet hitting) at night. This allows your body to go into a more reactive, automatic state with sharper senses and reflexes.
When you run more on autopilot this way—rather than consciously trying to control your every movement—your runs are more effective.
Running at night simply makes you feel better. No matter how bad your day was, it's over now, and running is your reward. So go sweat out the stress and release some feel-good endorphins with a run in the dark.
Nix the hustle and bustle of cars and pedestrians and zen out to the sound of your own breathing and feet hitting the pavement. Night running allows some quiet headspace to mindfully meditate on your priorities or focus solely on following the rhythm of your breath.
No matter what you're doing, it's hard to make friends—and even harder to make plans with friends—at 6am. Scheduling your runs at night increases your chances of turning running hour into social hour. By combining your workout regime with your social life, you'll gain accountability buddies and a new reason to look forward to your upcoming runs.
Not sure where to find partners in crime for your after hours running adventures? Do a quick search on Meetup for running groups, and call your local running store to find out about community events.
Running in the morning is challenging. First, you have to defeat the snooze button. Then, you need to get in a good workout, shower, eat breakfast, and prepare for the day—all before many people are waking up! Scheduling your workout at night eliminates a rushed morning, while running at night allows for a more relaxed pace.
Properly fueling for morning runs can be an issue, especially when you're waking up super early and skipping breakfast to rush out the door. Reserving your runs for the evening can give you more time to focus on proper nutrition, and gives your body more time to stretch and warm up.
Additionally, according to one study, your muscular function and strength peaks in the evening hours along with your oxygen uptake and anaerobic capacity, making the case for night running even stronger.
Dietitians recommend consuming a combination of carbohydrates and protein within an hour of your workout, which gives you an excuse to indulge in a (healthy) late night snack. Treat yourself to a yogurt mixed with granola and fruit to aide muscle recovery and surprise your taste buds before bed.
... And start embracing your night owl status. Gear up with NightRunner Shoe Lights, and get ready to own the streets during your next night run. Not only will you run off frustrations from the day, work out harder and sleep better, but you'll enjoy the freeing feeling that can only come from exercising at night.
When do you prefer to work out, and why? Let us know in the comments.