Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hooray! Another excuse for being a slow runner

Today's run (street): 4.4 miles at 9:47

The morning runner's lament
I was reading the current issue of Men's Journal and saw an item saying that the ideal window for working out is between 4PM and 8PM. I'd read that before and assumed that it didn't apply to "morning people" like myself who may have their ideal performance band earlier in the day. This item dismissed that notion saying that it's 4-8PM, case closed. The item also stated that early mornings were the worst time to achieve high performance during exercise or competition. That makes some sense to me because I generally run slower at 4 AM than I do at 10 AM. I'm sure it has something to do with body chemistry, oxygen levels or the activation of slow and fast twitch muscles. I'll admit it made me feel better for the string of 9:30 to 9:54 runs I've been doing over that last few weeks. Prior to reading that I'd blamed the oppressive heat and humidity. Now I just have to point to Men's Journal to excuse myself for being so slow.

After realizing that I train during a sub-optimizing time I started thinking about what that really means. What if I run 4 miles at 9:47 at 7:00 AM on Saturday and the next day run at 4:00 PM averaging 9:15 per mile? Am I a better runner on Sunday? Is there a physical benefit to running faster with (conceivably) the same level of effort? I'm not so sure and I'm thinking that it doesn't matter except on race day. To that, if all competitors start at 8:00 AM don't we all share the same advantages and disadvantages? I'm thinking the 4-8 PM performance window is definitely more about competition than conditioning.

I knew before I started that this morning's run would be arduous. The temperature should peak at 97 today and while it was only 88 degrees when I went out at 7:00 the sun was baking and the air was soupy. I was pleased with my Brooks Rev T shirt that manages sweat so well (along with my Adidas shorts). Eventually everything became soaked but I was happy to get 4+ miles out of the way without succumbing to the brutal heat. I called it a run when my heart rate started to climb past 80% of max and I really wanted to shower and grab a quick nap. Instead I guzzled some low sugar Gatorade that I'd picked up on sale last week and I chased that with a quart of water. I think I'll need to go out even earlier tomorrow if I want to avoid those conditions. Perhaps the weather will be better than today's. I wasn't worried too much about performance today and that's good because it wasn't great. I don't care -- now I can blame a poor showing on the time of day.


  1. Hahaha, is there an optimal time to take a shower too you think? Yeah - it's called anytime, and especially when you stink to high ...... Hmmm, if you ask me, I don't buy into all of that optimal time stuff. My schedule of sleeping and waking is messed up anyways so I can not really be a good commenter on this one but, I do notice better running if I am able to be up for a long while before I head out to wake the body up. Did my run this morning at 530. And you are right about the soupy air. Take care and keep hydrated man.

  2. How could I, Queen Slowness re: running, NOT read this post?!? =) Good point re: any different a runner if run at 4pm and fly (relatively speaking) vs. run at 6 am and crawl? As long as you run and don't get hurt, then all's well. =) Was REALLY slow today, walking lots, at Mammoth Lakes (ELEVATION!!!) and it was GORGEOUS and I was happy, so that works for me! =)

  3. Yes, a defined period of "optimal time" is questionable to me too. I'm actually becoming less concerned about speed and spending more time thinking about health benefits and enjoying the experience of running. Slow runs and walks around Mammouth Lakes sounds like a spectacular way to spend time, fast or slow.

  4. Huh. That is an interesting theory. Considering I don't think I have EVER run between 4 & 8. Ever. We always run either early in the morning or very very late at night. I will have to check it out and report on that one myself!

  5. Intresting....Then maybe all weekend races should start at 4:00 PM.


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