There are many factors to consider when deciding what time to run on any given day.
Although getting into a routine and running roughly the same time each run day can be helpful- as it is with going to bed and waking up – it is wise to take into consideration the time of year and weather.
This time of year, and through the end of the summer, the most important concerns are heat and air quality.
As readers of The Union over the past year know, we have ozone and air pollution problems, thanks to the air currents drifting up from the Sacramento valley. There are even some days with bad air quality warnings that make me wonder if I’d be better off not running at all that day.
And then there are a few days when there are fires in the area that leave the sky dark and the air quality obviously terrible. On most hot days, based on what I’ve read, the air quality and ozone levels get worse as temperatures rise, as well as later in the day.
So, the key to avoiding the worst of the air pollution and ozone is to run in the morning.
Another consideration, for those who are allergic to grass and/or pollen, is to run later in the morning, ideally, when it’s not too hot, after 10 when the plants stop pollinating.
For those with grass allergies, if you can, avoid running by areas that are being mowed during your workout. Breathing is kind of important while pushing yourself, without having additional strain put on your lungs.
It’s a matter of trade-offs.
This morning, Wednesday, I started running around 10:10, and it was already 92 in the shade in Grass Valley’s Morgan Ranch.
By the time I finished my six-mile run, around 11, it was 94 in the shade (and it’s only June!), so I probably should have started earlier.
Of course, there are other significant factors that affect when we can run, like work schedule, when fellow runners can meet for a run, and preference.
Some runners, those morning people dreaded by night owls, like to pop out of bed in the early hours and hit the roads (or trails) as the sun is coming up.
Then there are the night people who take more time to wake up and get their blood circulating, or those who have had injuries to muscles or ligaments that require more time to warm and loosen up.
There is another advantage to running in the morning, and that is training your body and getting it used to doing so, as almost all the races are in the mornings, and if you mostly run in the late afternoon, that can be a shock to your system come race day.
Some of us like to get our run in before the (sometimes) maniacal pace of daily life takes away the hours and suddenly it’s late and we’re tired.
Besides the obvious importance of staying hydrated on hot days by drinking before and possibly during longer runs, it’s also important to wear sunscreen and appropriate clothing.
I have several friends who have lost chunks of flesh due to skin cancer from too much sun, so don’t let that sneak up on you and use some protection.
Out on my run today, I was surprised to see a walker go by dressed totally in black.
Light colors, with white being the best, reflect the sun and will keep you cooler.
Dark colors, especially black, soak in the sun and make you hotter.
So, logically, light or white on hot days, and dark on cool days in the winter.
And wearing materials like Coolmax, which wick away moisture, is preferable to cotton, which gets soaked with sweat and stays that way.
Be cool this summer! See you on the trails and roads!
Steve Bond is a competitive runner who lives in Grass Valley and writes a weekly column or feature about running for The Union. He may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.