Screw Sunrise: 5 Reasons to Try a Moonlit Run Instead

There are some Monday mornings – specifically when you’re hungover all day on Sunday (you didn’t just read that, mom) – when you simply need to sleep in. That was me yesterday morning, when I pressed snooze about 7 times before finally rolling out of bed (sorry Noah; at least my alarm clock is set to pretty harps and not some incessant beeping).

In my mind, I was making the right choice – even if, as habit would have it, it felt unquestionably wrong to be forgoing my AM routine. But in the end, I wound up snuggling into the covers more and more each time my iPhone went off, and so I was left with no other option but to embrace the idea of an evening run instead.

For me, there were 2 immediate advantages to trading off my morning for an evening run that came to my still-asleep mind. On the one hand, delaying my run would give me at least 10 more hours to rest my ailing leg. On the other hand, after exercising morning after morning (after morning, after morning), I suppose I could add something refreshing to the mix at least every now and then.

With the unexpectedly warm evenings that we in New York City and across the eastern seaboard have been able to enjoy so far this fall, there really is no better time to take advantage of the unusually mild nights than right now. Here are a handful of other reasons to consider switching it up as well, aside from awesome views of the Freedom Tower.

1. You’ll have more energy. While the prospect of sitting on the couch after work is pretty tempting, the thought of letting out all that pent up I’ve-been-sitting-in-a-cubicle-all-day-long energy is pretty alluring as well.

No matter how awesome an athlete you are, any morning runner can tell you that those first few steps – sometimes those first few miles, even – can be pretty forgettable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sleep-ran, only to come home and tell Noah that I blacked out the first 30 minutes of my excursion.

(This is how I usually feel on an average early morning run.)

2. You’ll be better fueled. One of the reasons why morning runs can be so tough? On most occasions, I’m probably heading out the door with little more in my stomach than toothpaste that I’ve accidentally swallowed. I swear, there was a time in my running life when I’d wake up at 5 am to enjoy coffee and cereal, or at least a handful of almonds and cashews, before getting to it. Now, I value every second of added sleep I get, and so the only time I’m properly fueled tends to be on weekends and for races.

3. You’ll be less rungry throughout the day. Especially following those longer morning runs – you know, the one when you’re all fine I’ll show up to the office 30 minutes late so I can squeeze in another 3 miles. The sense of hunger that ensues can be crippling. All of a sudden, it’s 11:30 in the morning and your stomach can be heard from the conference room down the hall.

I actually find that, on mornings when I don’t run, I’m less tempted to reach for that fourth handful of candy or that extra bowl of cereal. I’m more conscious of my intake and far less famished between meals. As a bonus, I’m typically not all that hungry after an evening workout, and so dinner is often pretty healthy and portion-conscious too. Example: Last night I actually managed to save half of my steamed veggies, tofu, brown rice and edamame (slathered in peanut sauce, for an extra healthy punch, right?), meaning I have free lunch today.

4. You’ll get more sleep. No need to elaborate on this one; though, to be fair, I recently had the privilege of speaking with Harvard Sleep Center Director Dr. Russell Sanna, who recommended against evening exercise because you can wind up impeding your ability to fall asleep. Really, I don’t think it affects me all too much since I’m ordinarily in bed by 9:30 the latest (I know, I’m 25 going on 89), and so getting a little extra shut-eye in the morning can make all the difference some days.

5. You’ll take in a new environment. Morning runs that start from home sweet home tend to become monotonous, bringing you back to the same routes over and over again. For one, it’s easier than actually thinking about what you’re doing that early in the morning. And of course, there are only so many paths to check out when you run from the same spot every day.

For me, starting from my office means I’m already downtown and halfway to the west side highway – one of my favorite places to run, which I hardly get to check out because of its distance from my apartment. On Monday evening, I changed from my work clothes to running clothes with an added sense of excitement over the very fact that I’d be able to check out (a very blurry) Washington Square Park…

…and a lovely west side sunset.

(Noah’s in his taper for the Chicago Marathon this weekend, and so it was “okay” for him to run at my “refreshing” (translation: comparatively slow) pace. So much fun though!)

Being a morning runner, I’ve been known to do everything in my power to convince myself not to run by nightfall on the days when I skip out on my AM routine. That in itself is one of the very reasons why I prefer “getting my workout over with” before heading to work.

To prevent the inevitable back-out (because doesn’t going home and sitting on the couch with hummus and carrots sound so much better than breaking a sweat?), I always bring my running clothes and a backpack with me to the office.

Not only does this keep me far away from my couch, removing all temptation to plop down and flake out, but it also saves me time overall. You see, I hate public transportation and refuse the subway unless it’s raining or above 90 degrees. For me, if I’m going to walk 30 minutes back to my apartment, I might as well turn it into an extended run.

As a female, it’s always a little strange having to plan your night around a post-work run. There’s the packing, there’s having to change in the office from red pants to running shorts, and there’s the whole bag problem. (What?) For an otherwise sporty girl, I have to admit that I have always loved my handbags; I’m as powerless in front of Chanel as Superman is to Kryptonite.

That said, on mornings when I plan to run home from work, I downsize. After all, it’s not like I’m going to stuff my LV Duffle into a small satchel that’s likely going to soak up every last ounce of my back sweat (and trust me, there is always plenty to go around).

So long glasses (hopefully a contact doesn’t fall out).

So long makeup case (hopefully my skin doesn’t get too oily).

So long sunglasses case (hopefully my shades survive the bumpy ride home in the side compartment of my backpack next to my keys, which definitely won’t scratch them at all).

While there are certainly more measures that have to be taken when going for an evening run, I have to say, on Monday, it was worth it. I’m glad I screwed sunrise and stayed in bed just a wee bit longer. And at any rate, what’s the worst thing that happens? You hate it, and you screw sunset from here on in.

  • The age old question: Are you a morning runner or a night runner?
  • Do you ever switch it up?
  • What’s your favorite part about the time of day you run?
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11 thoughts on “Screw Sunrise: 5 Reasons to Try a Moonlit Run Instead

  1. Evening, always! I just cant get my butt in gear in the morning. If I am forced to run in the morning I whine the whole time…either to myself or my work out buddy. No one likes a whiner! 🙂
    My fav time is immediately after work for many reasons. I am awake. Im happy to be out of the office and running/biking away from it as fast as freaking possible! There are enough calories to sustain a decent hour of exercise. And when I get home Im more inclined to have a healthy dinner (like yours).
    Iv enever understood a morning workout routine, but then again Im not an early morning person ….unless Im on vacation…then Im always up stupid early…why is that?

    • Maybe because you’re SO excited to get in the sun or ski or whatever you do on vaca. I am still a morning runner/exerciser at heart. I worked out at 730 am today. I do get why evening workouts are so appealing though. I definitely had more in me than I would during any given sunrise last night.

  2. Pingback: Cook Yourself Sexy: A Luncheon Story + Cookbook Giveaway « Will Run For Glitter

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