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So I've tried to get in a few extra miles in the early AM. I'm not a morning runner. I've tried before and I just can't get a decent pace going compared to what I can run in the afternoons.

So this morning I did a tempo run and I hit a 7:20 pace for 3.5 miles. If I had run that same route in the afternoon, I could have easliy been under a 7:00 min/mi. pace.

Is it still beneficial to do harder runs early in the morning?

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It takes a while to get used to, but eventually your morning paces will improve. I used to hate running in the morning. I was always sluggish and slow when I tried to run. I haven't done a straight up comparison of a morning run to an afternoon run lately, but I'm sure they're pretty close. I think it also helps as far as race preparation goes (since they're all in the morning).
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Are you saying that I should be able to run faster if I do my runs in the afternoons? I think I like that idea. I will still run in the mornings, but I will know in my head that I can run faster if I would only wait until the afternoon. :D

Seriously, I would think that your first few miles would be faster in the afternoon just because you are already awake and slightly warmed up. My first mile or so in the mornings are spent trying to convice my legs that they really don't want to turn around and go back to bed.
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i think it's partly what your body is used to. i've always run in the morning and can not stand afternoon runs. blech. they just don't feel natural to me.
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Me too
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I always run much, much faster in afternoon or late morning runs.

Early mornings are tough. Your body isn't as warmed up...your muscles are not loose...

I've done a ton of em...and I still don't like em. I always feel good when I do actually do it(when I'm done) but it can be real difficult to run some really slow miles, really early in the cold morning...when I could be in bed snuggled up with mrs. coach.
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I've come across a few articles about it. It's much easier to run in the afternoon is what the experts say. You're fully awake, loosened up, warmed up, fueled up and mentally sharper.

Personally, I use this to my advantage. When I need to log a tempo run or speedwork, I'll do it on my noonhour. But if it's a long run or plain old bread and butter mileage, doing it in the morning will work for me.

Even though there's something to be said about training during the same time of the day an upcoming race will be, I think the benefits outweigh that as you run whatever time of the day gives you the best quality when it comes to speedwork.
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Dang! So you are telling me that I cannot just assume that I can run faster if I were to run in the afternoon? There goes my virtual PR!
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I run a lot in the AM, too. I think the effort matters most.

My times drop in general this time of year. The colder weather and the time change and all that seems to slow me down. And I am also a lot slower in the morning than in the afternoon.

Do like jrjo suggested and try to do a speed/tempo run one day per week in the afternoon or whenever you feel fastest.
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I agree with this. I think the colder weather requiring additional clothing helps slow me down along with taking longer to get warmed up. I run in the mornings to make sure I get it done. If I were to run in the afternoon it'd be a lot easier to think up excuses not to go out...
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