I’ll be honest from the off with this one – I’ve never been able to get away with the ol’ evening run, or its more terrifying sibling THE NIGHT RUN. Why? Well, that will become apparent when reading through the ‘cons’ section below. I would suspect, however, that the majority of runners take to the streets in the evening – owing to convenience and/or not wanting to crack out a run at ridiculous o’ clock in the morning.
So, how does my limited experience of the evening/night run compare to an early ‘un or a midday jaunt? Well, there are some pros and some cons. Well, many cons.
My evening running – the pros:
1) That feeling of ‘YEAH! I’m out and not slumped in front of the telly like all of YOU people!’ cannot be denied. And whilst any victory over strangers who don’t actually realise they are in some sort of competition – and are perfectly happy sat watching some self-righteous old lady telling people their cakes are all shite – can be viewed as something of a hollow victory, I’ll take whatever I can get.
2) A similar advantage to that of a first-thing-in-the-morning run is the fact that nature – well, some of it – comes ALIVE in the evening. Rabbits. Owls. Foxes. Badgers. Otters. Hmm, that does make it sound like my regular route is through Farthing Wood via Watership Down. But you get the point.
3) An evening run is undoubtedly a good way to de-stress and forget/hypothetically avenge the day’s many, many, many irritants. If you get back from a run and you’re still stressed, it’s because you haven’t run far enough. I think I’ll put that on a t-shirt.
And that’s about it for the pros. Brace thyselves…
My evening running – the cons:
1) Whereas with the morning run the idea is to be out the door and half a mile down the road before the body and the objecting voice of the inner monologue really know what is going on, I’ve got the whole day to talk myself out of going running in the evening. ‘Urgh…you’ve had a hard day at work…urgh…it’s raining…urgh…Nuns on the Run is on ITV4 and we haven’t seen that for ages’ cries the internal voice of ever-more persuasive reason that inevitably sees me cast aside the running trainers and fall into the welcoming embrace of Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane.
2) The prospect of getting in from work and heading straight out for a run before tea is completely out of the question. My wife remembers how when her father would come in from work she was under strict instruction from her mother not to bother him for half an hour or so as he eased into the evening with his newspaper and some quiet time. Ah, testify brother. I would say my 21st century equivalent is getting in and hiding in the toilet with The Simpsons: Tapped Out on the iPad for a while, but the principle is the same.
3) Owing to me being an ‘after tea man’ when it comes to the evening jaunt, most of the time I’m hit by THE INDIGESTIONING, regardless of how long I leave it after food. And no one needs that. Its clearly nature’s way of violently whispering ‘what are you doing out here of an evening when you should be back in the toilet with the iPad’.
4) The night is dark and full of terrors. Yes, I know I bleated on about non-existent paranormal nonsense leaping out of the shadows and sucking on my soul in reference to the morning run. But we all know that the ordinary can become extraordinarily pants-soiling in the dark. As an example, a park near me has a trail based on The Gruffalo. I can cope with a scrambled snake in a log pile house (or similar) as much as the best of them, but if an 8-foot beast with terrible teeth and terrible claws is looming over me in the twilight – regardless of me really knowing its made from twigs – I’m not happy.
5) OK, I’ll admit that numbers 1 thru 4 can be regarded as perhaps only subjectively disadvantageous in light of my particular idiosyncrasies. However, there is no denying that there is one HUGE downside to the evening run. Its one we’ve surely all encountered. Like Satan and P-Diddy, they have many names: The cretins. Morons. Numbnuts. Tossers. Wankers. And so forth. You know who I mean – the ones who feel it necessary to hurl abuse, sound the horn on their Vauxhall Corsa and/or on special occasions lob something in the general direction of a passing runner. Yes, the evening is when these fine examples of humanity are at their most…prevalent. And it’s enough to make me get up at 6am to go running just to avoid ‘em. It is, of course, impossible to delve into the mind of the muttonhead who equates ‘look at that person running’ with ‘I must make a vulgar noise of some sort to show them what a knob I am’ without coming to the conclusion that they do so owing to some sort of crushing insecurity, self-doubt or feeling of inadequacy. And, as 99% of the time the culprit is male, I suspect a small penis issue. My reaction to being on the receiving end of a torrent of indecipherable nonsense is usually to fire back a similarly eloquent response of ‘F**k off you t**t’ with somewhat Pavlovian instinctiveness. Which is unfortunate if it was actually someone I know trying to say hello via the medium of the car horn. Well, you win some you lose some.