Early Bird Gets The Worm | How to Get Better Results

I cannot definitely say that the early bird gets the worm.

I don’t necessarily believe you have to run in the mornings every day to run a great 5K to marathon but I do believe getting it over with early is a good thing.

There are many runners who loathe the mornings whereas countless others know that getting a workout in before breakfast is the best time, that it makes you feel productive.

early bird gets the worm

Dean Karnazes, on his Runners World blog, wrote an article called Early Bird Doesn’t Always Get The Worm where he states that ‘studies’  have shown running in the afternoon is better then running in the morning.

The problem is no scientific studies were even given within his article.

If you click on the link to his article you will see why I am still scratching my head here.

People want to have a connection to what they read and who is writing the content.

I was just struck by the fact that the article was all of about 200 words long and gave no feedback or proof to the claims Karnazes wrote about.

Do Not Lose Enthusiasm

The majority of runners just want to enjoy what they are doing.

They want a simpler approach but many, if they read about someone talking about a scientific study, should at least have the courtesy of reading about the study referenced in Early Bird Doesn’t Always Get The Worm

Anahad O’Connor of the New York Times also mentioned the best time to exercise is in the afternoon, preferably between 4 and 7 pm.

Also, this seems to be the best time for our bodies to work at full aerobic capacity, strength output and reaction.

Christopher Calwell, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles Brain Research Institute, states that the heart, liver and the brain are all controlled by an endogenous circadian rhythm.

He conducted a study on mice which appeared in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of Physiology.

So, it basically states that exercise effects our circadian rhythms and that the afternoon is considered the best time to exercise.

If you want to read an outstanding article on AM versus PM running check out Gretchen Reynolds Why Afternoon May Be The Best Time To Exercise.

The Benefits Of Running Early

1. If you live in a hotter climate the benefits of running early in the morning are evident, lower temps, less humid (if you are lucky).

I have lived in both hot and cold climates and running early during the summer months is best.

2. You have your workout in for the day.

Runners are going to train whenever it feels best for them, not on account of some scientific study.

So, it is still helpful to research what some of the world’s top exercise physiologist say.

I prefer morning runs. In fact, ran the best solo 20-miler of my life starting at 5 am averaging 5.30 per mile and finishing in 1.50.02.

I have not bettered that long run yet in the afternoon. I did during my 2:19:35 marathon performance hitting the 20-mile mark in 1:44:05. Again, also a morning effort. So, you have to go with what works best for you. For some, afternoons work better for their working schedule.

It all depends on the individual.

Morning vs Evening

3. Research has shown that exercisers who train in the morning seem to be more consistent with their training than with their counterparts who train in the afternoon.

4. Working out in the morning is a great way to lose weight efficiently.  Also, you are burning more calories the remainder of the day. In addition, you will be burning far more compared to at the end of the day.

The downside to training in the morning is that you are training on mainly an empty stomach.

So, your energy stores may be low from sleeping through the night.

The run you do in the morning may feel more difficult than it would feel in the afternoon.

What Do The Studies Say?

A recent study conducted in Tunis, Tunisia proved time of day effected anaerobic output in 1o to 11 year old boys.

The boys underwent four separate anaerobic tests involving strength and power.

The results?

The boys saw an increase a 5% increase in the jump test. In addition, grip strength improved by 5.9%, squat jump increased by 3.5%.

Also, performance increased 5.5% during the Wingate test (which measures peak anaerobic output) from morning to afternoon

A recent study conducted at the Quatar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital showed that we have greater maximum sprinting output in the afternoon.

This, being compared with the morning.


Of course, we are talking sprinting and strength here.

The authors of this study showed that there was really no difference in stamina and endurance in the afternoon.

The Benefits Of Running In The Afternoon

1. Obviously running in the afternoon means you are more awake and alert for the workout.

The downside is you spend the entire day knowing you have a run still to do.

2. Dr. Boris Medarov of the Jewish Medical Center in Long Island, New York, found that your lung capacity is actually 6 percent greater in the afternoon than any other part of the day.

There was another study conducted at a 2004 conference at the American College of Chest Physicians which demonstrated that lung capacity was superior in the hours between 4 and 5pm.

Body temperature

3. Your body temperature is higher in the afternoon than in the morning so less time is required to warming up.

In closing, we all work best at different times of the day.

I loathe the early mornings but find great satisfaction in having 10-12 miles in before breakfast or having a 20 mile long run completed before the sun comes up.

Closing Thoughts

I often feel lethargic if I wait to workout in the evenings after work.

So, what about the old saying that states the early bird gets the worm?

There are people who work better in the afternoon. Of course, there are those who are much better off working out in the morning.

I hope this post on the early bird gets the worm has been helpful to you. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new content there each week to help runners like you get to the next level in their training and racing.

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