Training Articles

The Best Time to Run and Walk

The most wonderful time to run or walk is basically when you have the time. Profound statement. However, there are some other little strategies that may help you stay on a consistent exercise program.

Work out early? You want to get something done? Do it early in the day. Everything gets tougher later in the day when various tasks and responsibilities start ganging up on you---work responsibilities, family "fun", social obligations. Running in the morning can help wake up your body and mind. It can give you the energy to start your day. It also saves time---after all you don't have to take another shower. In addition, if you are one of those people who tend to procrastinate, it's best to run when you first get up before you have the chance to put it off.

By the way, try to get your clothes and shoes ready the night before a morning run. Root through your closets and drawers and organize your running gear while you're thinking clearly. It saves time and trouble (and possibly an irritated, sleeping spouse).

Lunchtime work stress? Midday running can be a good de-stressor from work. Exercise, especially a light run or walk, almost always relaxes a tense, stressed body. It might be a good opportunity to catch up with your other running business associates. It could save calories since you don't have the time for a long lunch. It won't take a way from family time at home. Finally, it might give you an added boost of energy to get you through a rather tough afternoon.

Nightcap? If you run at night, it can be a wonderful way to leave all your work worries behind. You may want to run with someone to make sure you do it. There's nothing like the social pressure of knowing someone else is waiting for you. The streets are less crowded. The world is a little quieter. But it is also extremely dark at times so know your neighborhoods well and follow good safety precautions (see box). Another consideration if you are an evening exerciser is to run before you get home. Stop at the gym or your favorite park. Sometimes, once you get home, it's hard to get out the door again for a workout, or you head straight to the refrigerator.

If you were looking for scientific answers to the right time to run and walk--no can do. For you to truly get the most out of your workout and stay consistent, the real right time is only when the time is right for you.

Are you a safe runner and walker?
Here are some tips for safe running and walking any time of day-- (Hint: It's basically everything you tell your children to do...)

  • Run with a partner or group
  • Run in familiar well-lighted neighborhoods
  • Don't wear headsets. You need your ears to be aware of your surroundings, cars, dogs and other people, and you want to stay alert so you are less vulnerable.
  • Carry change for a phone call
  • Leave a note at home on the direction and duration of your run or walk. Be sure your family knows some of your favorite courses.
  • Avoid quiet, unpopulated areas or empty streets
  • Carry identification
  • Ignore verbal harassment and use discretion in acknowledging strangers
  • Run and walk against traffic so you can observe approaching cars and bikes
  • Wear reflective material on as many body parts as possible
  • Be sure you are extra sensitive at cross walks where approaching cars may not see you
  • Consider getting trained in self-defense (this helps in more situations than just running or walking), or perhaps carry a noisemaker.
  • Call the police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone or anything out of the ordinary

Life is too complicated to make running yet another obligation. Find that childlike spirit again--when you used to run till you were out of breath and laugh so hard that your stomach hurt.