Why a late-night run can help your training

A late-night run may be the perfect answer to training for a marathon during the summer.

The heat of the summer months can make any form of running a big, sweaty mess. But, I’ve found a little secret to overcoming the heat. Try a late-night run.

Late-night run stigma

Running at night is like a morning runner’s second cousin.

The idea of running at night might sound crazy. There are so many books, blogs, and Pinterest pins about the benefits of running in the morning. And while it does have its place, I’ve found night running to be a great way to mix up your training. Overcoming the stigma behind a late-night run is the goal here. 

Morning runners

Morning runners have beautiful sunrise views and the satisfaction of checking off a training run before starting their day. They can start the day off right. If that’s true then the corollary is also true, running at night can end your day off right.

Rise of the late-night run

For night runners, there’s something equally as peaceful as the quiet of a morning run. It’s the peace that comes from running under the light of the moon and the stars. The hustle and bustle of the day is over, giving you time to unwind and reflect on the day.

Embracing the nighttime run

If you’re curious about lacing up your running shoes and running after dark, you’re not alone. There are a number of reasons to log your training miles after sunset. 

I’ve broken down some of the top benefits of a late-night run, building the case that will help you embrace it as part of your training program.

late night run

Late night run helps beat the heat

Running at night gets you out of the summer heat.

Most marathons and half marathons are held in the fall, which means that the bulk of your training is during the summer months. Running during the summer months has many of its own challenges.

Night running is a game-changer

Summer heat and humidity take their toll on you.

When I trained for my first marathon, the Kansas City summer heat and humidity kicked my butt. I complained and lamented until my wife suggested I run at night. Up until that point, it had never crossed my mind. 

After my family was in bed, I laced up my shoes, strapped on my Camelbak, and headed out onto the dark streets illuminated only by the moonlight and street lamps. That training run felt so much different. So much easier. It was an absolute game-changer. 

Late night run helps you stick to a plan

The snooze button is the morning run killer.

It’s hard to get up and run in the morning when you can just hit the snooze button and make it all go away. When it comes to night running, there is no snooze button. You’re already awake. 

If you make a late-night run a priority as just another piece of your day, you are more apt to follow through. Consistency in running is key to achieving your goals, whether you’re just getting started running or you’re training for a marathon.

late night run helps sleep

Late night run helps you sleep better

Running at night doesn’t take away from your sleep, it adds to it.

We all want to sleep better and awake refreshed. Believe it or not, running at night can actually help you sleep better. 

Late night run and the science of sleep

Releasing endorphins while running should make sleep harder, right?

Actually no, a recent study at the University of South Carolina found that people who did moderate to high-intensity exercise for 1-2 hours were able to go into a deep, relaxing sleep just 30 minutes later.

late night running helps zen

Helps you find a zen place

Late-night running might just make you feel better. 

With the stress of the day now over, a late-night run can be your zen place. For many chubby runners, night running works out that stress and releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) while they run in the dark.

A late-night run can help you center and regulate

The darkness and quiet of nighttime running are unlike any other running experience.

In the absence of the many sounds of the day, a late-night run is peaceful and quiet with only the sound of your own breathing and feet hitting the pavement. This allows you to focus on yourself, on your breathing, on how your body feels, and on how to sort out things in a quiet headspace. It can be a meditative experience to regulate and center your body and mind.

Sweat less on a late-night run

So nighttime runners don’t sweat? Not exactly.

Putting your body through the rigors of running is difficult enough. Your muscles, connective tissue, circulatory system, and respiratory systems experience stress when you run. Not to mention the constant pounding of shoes on pavement and the literal impact it has on your body. These factors are compounded for chubby people. 

Adding summer heat and humidity exacerbates the stress on the body by depleting water and electrolytes at an accelerated rate. This causes the body to break down faster, resulting in poor performance and could lead to injury. Running at night allows you to function at a higher rate with less effort because the additional stress caused by the sun is absent. Therefore, you sweat less.

Look forward to the morning

Winning the snooze button battle is a tough mental barrier.

Packing in too much in the morning can bring added stress. Just the mental logistics of figuring out what time to get up so that there’s enough time to get some breakfast and a certain number of running miles before work is taxing on the psyche. So hitting the snooze and skipping all that means you start your day with a “perceived failure” sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Planning your training run for late-night eliminates the stress of a rushed morning and allows you a stress-free, mind-clearing, focused, happy run.

Prepare all day for a late-night run

When you run in the morning it’s hard to know exactly what you should eat to fuel your body prior to a run. Moving your runs to nighttime gives you all day to focus on: 

  • Proper nutrition
  • Adequate stretching
  • Mental preparedness

There is one study that found muscular function and strength actually peak in the evening hours. There is also an uptick in oxygen and anaerobic capacity. These factors really make the case for running at night.

Late night run is the cure for munchies

Don’t feel bad about that Ben & Jerry’s pint while binging Netflix late at night. Many nutritionists recommend eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein within an hour of a training run. This gives you an excuse to indulge in a late-night snack. Excess sugar and fats may not be the best, but you could treat yourself to peanut butter on celery or cream cheese and an apple. These types of late-night munchies can help with muscle recovery and give your body something to digest while you sleep.

Late night run mixes it up

Try it and see what you think.

A late-night run may not be for you. Maybe it’s a game-changer for you, or maybe it’ll be the worst thing ever. That’s the beauty of it. You’re not locked in, you don’t have to change everything to night running.

  • Try it as a way to get out of the heat for one long run.
  • Give it a try as a change of scenery.
  • Test it out and if you like it keep going.

The bottom line on the late night run

There’s many benefits to the late-night run. But is it for you?

One of the great things about being a chubby runner is that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Some people swear by a certain kind of shoe or technique. If that works for them, great. You can find the different things that work for you as an overweight runner.

Try late-night running. If nothing else it’ll give you another running tool for you to use to be successful in your running efforts. Good luck and be safe out there.