Many runners are creatures of habit. We love our early morning run, lunch hour strength session or favorite loop through the neighborhood trail system. But these habits can often make us less resilient. Just think of the scenarios where running is made dramatically more difficult by going outside of your normal routine:
- Can you handle an early morning run if you’re used to running at night?
- If you run at night to escape the heat, can you race when the weather is warmer?
- If a race begins later than usual (like the Boston Marathon), can you adapt?
Runners should always strive to make themselves anti-fragile: to thrive in moments of uncertainty and rise to the occasion, no matter what that might be. So if you’re truly a creature of habit and run solely at night, you might have trouble with earlier races when the weather conditions are a lot hotter.
But despair not. There are tangible steps you can take to boost your resiliency and set yourself up for success on race day–no matter when the race is scheduled.
Combating The Heat As A Night Runner
Evening runners are running well after peak high temperatures. Not only that, but the sun’s strength is either greatly diminished or, if it’s late enough, non-existent.
Running in the heat is undoubtedly more challenging:
- Higher humidity levels reduce the evaporation of sweat from your skin, making it a far less effective cooling mechanism. The result? You have to slow down.
- Higher levels of dehydration make your blood thicker, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood to your hard-working muscles
- High temperatures increase your core body temperature, making hard workouts more challenging (and dangerous)
Luckily, runners can adapt to the heat and it doesn’t take months of running at noon to acclimatize. If you’re a night runner, you can choose 2-3 easy runs per week and run those during the heat of the day. By exposing your body to higher temperatures and a stronger sun, you’ll force your body to adapt, making a day race much easier to tackle.
While those runs might not be very comfortable, they don’t have to be your hardest workouts. Easy runs work, too.
And the benefits of heat acclimatization are undeniable:
- The body improves its ability at sending blood from your core to your skin, helping dissipate heat
- You produce more blood (since more of it is going to your skin)
- Sweating begins sooner at a lower body temperature to begin the cooling process
- Sweat contains fewer electrolytes to maintain a proper balance
These adaptations not only help you run more efficiently in the heat, but they also help you run faster in cooler weather. It’s a great reason to keep training through the summer to capitalize on fall racing when the weather becomes cooler.
Get Comfortable Running, No Matter The Time
While runners often love training at the same time every day, that habit prevents them from adapting to different race times and running situations. After all, many races start very early in the morning. Or close to noon, like some marathons. Or even at night if you’re racing a “Twilight Race.”
Racing is one reason why you’ll want to vary your training times. But there are many other scenarios as well:
- Your friends want to meet up for a weekly run before work
- The local club meets after work at the track for workouts
- Runners often love running from bar to bar, which means running in the afternoon or evening
To help yourself adapt to the different time of day, there’s no better solution than training at a variety of times throughout the week. This practice gives you the valuable mental benefit of being comfortable running at any time. You’ve been there and done that, so why worry?
You’ll also learn other strategies that will only help your running:
- How to fuel appropriately for your needs for a morning, afternoon or evening run
- Proper hydration planning for the time of day and weather
- Planning that oh-so-necessary bathroom trip pre-run, no matter the time
- How to pace yourself based on the weather, how you feel and time of day
Variety is the spice of life and when it comes to running, variety helps develop anti-fragility, resilience and an ability to thrive in any situation. Now lace up those shoes and hit the road, no matter when!