Survey: What time of day do you train?

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Clearly, Bill Murray is not a morning runner

I’ve always thought that training pre-dawn was the best. I had my reasons, and I believed them pretty strongly.

But at the same time, I’ve heard just as many arguments from nighttime running and riding zealots.

In fact, if I look out my window at 8pm I’ll see far more runners then than I will at 6am. Why?

I figured I’d do a short survey to ask triathletes, runners, and cyclists around the world when they preferred to run and cycle. I asked them:

  1. What is your preferred time to run?
    • Why do you prefer that time? If you feel strongly about your choice, please let me know.
  2. What is your preferred time to cycle?
    • Why do you prefer that time? If you feel strongly about your choice, please let me know.

We see that the most strongly held opinions are with running – either morning or night. The sentiment about when the best time to cycle is seemed much more flexible.

Here are the results:

Half are morning runners.

Here are some of the reasons for pre-dawn and sunrise runs

Many of the athletes who prefer morning run then because it’s cooler:

  • “I live in the Caribbean where it’s always how and humid. Running in the early morning is cooler and lets you recover throughout the day.”
  • “I live in Texas, too hot to run later.”
  • “Cooler weather, less traffic, up and back before family get up.”

While others say it just suits their schedules better:

  • “Best suits my daily routine (fitting in work, errands etc.). I am also an early riser and love the early morning atmosphere. Plus it’s still quiet.”
  • “I prefer to get my workouts done early and get on with the rest of my commitments.”
  • “I like to get things done before work……after a long day in the office, training is the last thing I feel like.”

And many more say it sets the tone for a great day:

  • “Makes me more energetic throughout the day.”
  • “Energy and motivation for my day.”
  • “It’s a very nice feeling to have the workout done by breakfast.”

Almost a third prefer the evening. Here’s why.

The late-eve and night crowd also says it’s cooler:

  • “Still light, heat has gone.”
  • “It is a cooler time of the day. Plus, I am most alert in the evening and late-afternoon.”
  • “Cooler; more energy in the afternoon / and evening.”

But others do it for the warmth – I guess it depends where you live:

  • “Too cold in the morning.”
  • “It’s convenient to run after work. Plus there’s still some heat, which is good conditioning for races. It’s also my commute twice a week.”

Others cited performance reasons:

  • “Besides the after work/before dinner timing convenience, I’ve always felt/performed better in PM workouts. Going back to competitive running in HS/Univ I was always dragging myself through the AM workouts and flying in the PM ones.”
  • “Body is stretched out and muscles are loose from working. Hydration and nutrition are optimal.”

But the main reason is maybe the most obvious – waking up early is tough. This reason was possibly the most strongly-held from our respondents:

  • “I just hate to run in the morning. It’s tough to get out of bed and just go. I’ve done it at different times, especially when training for trail runs, but I don’t enjoy a morning run.”
  • “I sleep pretty hard and it takes me a few hrs to feel completely awake. Also, since I sit most of the day, by 4 or 5 pm I’m ready to get out of the chair and get moving.”
  • “First thing in the morning I do NOT feel this way but rather just feel like sitting down at the desk for work. This feeling goes back to my school days also, e.g. even at 12 I preferred to go to swim practice in the afternoons rather than in the early morning. :)”
  • “I don’t have to go through the “wake up” phase when running in the morning…”
  • “Hot in Florida and I’m not an early riser.”
  • “Too lazy to wake up in the morning.”
  • “I love my sleep in the morning and having a relaxed morning.”
More than half prefer morning and hardly any ride at night

The two main reasons people ride in the morning are due to the cooler weather and of course for safety reasons as there’s less traffic then.

I doubht guys are worried about not being seen
  • “If I am riding on the road, I want to get out before there are many drivers. This is more important to me than the time of day I run.”
  • “Less traffic. Wind is calmer. Temperatures are more reasonable. Leaves the rest of the day open to enjoy.”
  • “Less traffic and I prefer riding outside with others for safety. If I’m using the trainer then any time of day works.”
  • “Get a good safe start, finish before it gets crazy hot.”
  • “Pre dawn is safer with less traffic, is nice to see the sunrise and is just overall peaceful and the best time of the day.”
  • “Cooler, less traffic, safer. The only time I will ride outside is a pre-dawn start.”
  • “If I’m biking outside, prefer just after sunrise because there are few cars on the road. If biking on trainer, prefer late morning/afternoon/early evening before dinner.”

In conclusion, we have stronger beliefs about when we should run than when we should cycle.

Most running is based around weather, sleep, and schedules, with fairly strong opinions. Most cycling is planned around safety and also weather. Both running and riding times are also heavily driven by family commitments, work, and the general practicalities of life.

A few people expressed that any time is a good time to get out and exercise, and I think these guys get it just right.

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