Late night racing

All signed up for this

You may have gathered by now that I am an early riser–part of it is that by nature, part of it by design. I’ve learned over the years that I’m going to greatly increase my odds of getting my workouts in if I do them early. And so with the exception of a few runs in summer designed to acclimate me to the heat, and during marathon training when I’ll add in two-a-days, I’m primarily done with training well before many people are even contemplating breakfast.

This generally works well with the race schedule, too. With the exception of a few big races, like Boston or New York, most races are held early in the day. (And for you race directors out there, I think there’s nothing better than a 7 a.m. start!).

So it would seem to defy logic that I’d sign up for a race that begins at 8:45 p.m., but that’s what I just did. Mr. Zippy and the kids are going camping later in July with a friend and his kids. His wife is a runner and when she heard the date of the planned camping trip, she asked if I’d like to join her for an 8k near her house. Well, why not? The Rockville Rotary 8k it is.

I’ve never run a race that late in the day. Actually, I’m usually asleep by that time of the day. But anyhow, I’m game. The biggest challenge I can see will be how to eat. With morning events, I have it down to a science. Evening will be trial and error, to be sure. Heat will be another issue–this race has a reputation of always being hot, and I’m guessing that evening will be much hotter than early morning.

Whatever the case, I think it will be fun to get out of the comfort zone and try something new. I do like the 8k distance so that holds plenty of appeal for me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Anyone ever run an evening race? What are the pros/cons to it? 


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  1. says

    The eating thing is key, I think. My first leg of the Reach the Beach relay was 8:30 pm and I was nervous about eating all day. I ate a normal lunch and then spent the rest of the day hydrating and whatnot. When dinner time came, I just snacked on a larabar and shortly before my leg, I had some Honey Stingers. I didn’t feel weighed down or sick at all. Of course, after my leg I was famished so we went to Subway. Best of luck!!!
    Jen recently posted..A Winning Kind of Day at the GymMy Profile

  2. says

    I’m a morning person and runner too. My week runs are usually between 3:45 and 06:00 in the morning. However, I have run many night races. Here in SA it is a common thing to have Wednesday and Friday night 10km and 15km races. The longest one is 25km. I find that i do well in these races. Must be metabolism that is wide awake and on the go at night. Our races all start at 19:00. I don’t change anything during a day where there is a night race and just have some toast with coffee 1 – 2 hours before the start. I set some PR’s in night races but that was many many moons ago. You will love and enjoy the night race.
    Johann recently posted..Gauteng Winter Trail XL Race ReportMy Profile

  3. says

    I started a new blog (ditched the old one) about a year ago, and I lost some of the blogs that I followed. Last night, I was surfing around and discovered your new blog! Just wanted to say hello!

    I like night races, because they are different. I always find that I don’t run as fast in night races. I feel fast, but the time on my Garmin proves differently! :)

  4. says

    I ran the Rockville Twilight many, many years ago…like in my 20’s.

    I remember it was fun and low key. People were on their lawns spraying us with hoses too. It was a little disorienting because I wasn’t completely sure of how many miles I had run (pre-Garmin days!)

    But fun is mostly what I remember. Enjoy!!
    Tracy recently posted..FMO Trail RunMy Profile

  5. says

    Good luck!

    I usually do a couple evening 5k’s as part of a summer race series. Timing my food is usually my biggest concern. A big, later lunch to tide me over until after the race seems to wrok best . I’m definitely a morning person too, so ijust adds a little more to the challenge :)

  6. says

    I’m running the midnight run in Philly in July. It is an 8 miler on the Kelly dr loop. It should be interesting to run in the middle of the night?!

  7. says

    I’m SO like you and love the early morning workout. I was going to run Las Vegas Marthon last year, a night race, but since my energy level is next to nothing later in the day, I figured it wasn’t a great idea. I don’t even do the 6:30 pm training runs held every Wed. Every year I tell myself I will and it would be GREAT training for the upcoming Boilermaker but no, I just can’t get the energy after working all day.

    So – good luck with the 8:45 pm race, it will be interesting to see how you planned out your day food wise to get ready for it. Good thing it’s not a long one :)
    Joanne recently posted..Summer Sizzler 5 Miler and CNYEats A Taste of Utica Blueberry MuffinsMy Profile

  8. says

    I give you SO much credit for signing up for a night race!! Especially one THAT late! That’s around my bedtime! HAHA. I am definitely a morning runner – have been for most of my life. The only exception is when I was in Iraq and found that the best time for me to run (based on my schedule) was between 12-4pm (whenever I could fit it in). It took a couple of weeks to get used to the eating/hydration/coffee schedule, but it soon became part of my routine – and I loved it!
    I’m definitely interested to hear about how it goes and what you do in prep for it =)

  9. says

    I’m a morning person to. Yes I did do a night run and hated it. The eating the day of the night race real played with my head and hydrating to. I had fun, but just not wanting to so another night race . It just not for me. Good Luck , I bet it will be alot of fun.

  10. CJ says

    Maybe I’ll see you there! This run is literally through my neighborhood, and this will be my 11th time running it.

    My best tip is that hydration is more important in this event than fuel. Many years the weather is hot and sticky, and there are often runners with heat-related medical events (sometimes severe) during the race.

    For morning races, you’re fueling after a lengthy overnight fast. So for an evening race, “fasting” for a few hours before doesn’t put me at a great disadvantage in terms of fuel–but my tummy is much happier with something light and non-confrontational in the early evening. I do focus on hydration for a couple of days before race day. And I skip “Beer and Oreo Guy Dressed as a Banana” that you pass 3x during the race 😉

    It’s fun to wear some glow sticks, bright clothes, etc., for this event since it’s totally dark (besides streetlights) after about the first mile. Miles 3 to 4.5ish around the college are pretty quiet (and weird yellow lighting), but the roar of the crowd as you approach the finish is cool. Hope you love it as much as I do!

  11. says

    I’ve run one evening race and it totally threw me off – I’m a big-time morning person. What to eat was definitely the biggest challenge…and just getting energized for the race. Fortunately though it was a fun run and wasn’t even timed :)
    Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen recently posted..DehydrationMy Profile

  12. says

    I have never run an evening race like that, and I always wonder how it would be to run a midnight run (actually passed on one on July 3). The key I imagine would be keeping off feet, staying hydrated during the day and eating right.

    Ans I am curious about marathon 2 a days. I am going to switch over to morning running in marathon training season this fall, and curious what you do…2 runs or one run, one cross train?
    NY Wolve recently posted..Father’s Day 12 milerMy Profile

  13. says

    I have never run an evening race. Well, I take that back; I ran the Relay and had to run two legs in the middle of the night. I am not sure if that counts or not. I was dreading it and you know what, they were awesome. It was quiet, just me and my reflective vest and my headlamp, running along in the dark! I am definitely a morning runner; I mean, how do you fuel for an 8 pm race!?
    Travel Spot recently posted..Tuesday Training (2)My Profile

  14. Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race says

    Pardon my French but I F’n hated it! You know the story of Vegas and while the race itself was a debacle I also had issues with the late start. Now that was a marathon and this is an 8k so there could be differences there. Also, the race was in December and not in the hot months either.

    That being said do a few practice runs later n the day and just treat the evening as breakfast time and eat the amount you normally do the normal amount prior to a race. You’ll be fine.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..Just…..My Profile

  15. says

    I’ve run a night race before, and it was wonderful! (Firecracker 5000 in Seattle… race begins at 11:55pm on 7/3 and is the “first race on the fourth of July”)

    While I loved the event, I did not exactly race well. Hubby and I spent the day hiking at Olympic National Park before the race, and I ate a huge salad for dinner. (Tons of fiber and burp-inducing foods right before a race – brilliant!)

    So my recommendation would be to eat your pre-race “breakfast” foods for dinner that night… and have FUN! :-)
    Beth (i run like a girl) recently posted..Book review on the run: WildMy Profile

  16. says

    I signed up for my first night race as well – and must admit, I’m freaked out. With my sensitive stomach, I’m so afraid of what to eat all day! I’m excited to read about your experience :)
    Megan recently posted..Fitness Bucket ListMy Profile

  17. says

    We have A Midsummer Night’s Run up here but it’s not that late a start, it usually starts around 5:30 pm (30k and 15K) and it’s in August. I find it rough. It’s hot, humi and I find it hard to eat properly before hand. It’s a great event though and lots of fun so I’ll keep doing it, and hopefully figure out the nutrition at some point!
    Robin recently posted..9 down one to goMy Profile

  18. says

    I’ve run a few evening races and they’ve been fine for me — BUT I am an evening runner during the week (early morning on the weekends). I did have some issues with eating, though. I’ve been starving in some races and gotten cramps in others. I guess I have the evening pre-run eating worked out fine but not the pre-race!

    Good luck!
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  19. says

    I have run some and am not crazy about them. I don’t know how to do the whole eating thing for that time of day race. But they’ve been fun, regardless of my discomfort with them.

  20. says

    Did the Disney Wine & Dine HM last fall. It started at 10pm. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about starting at that time (I am typically a 5:45/6:00am-11:00pm gal) but it was SO MUCH FUN!!! I rested during the day, watched my diet carefully, and enjoyed the race so much – as well as the after party at Epcot that ran until 2am!

    Night racing is fun! Hope you enjoy it!
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  21. says

    I think it’s just what you’re used to. I used to love training at 7pm and that’s when I did my best quality work, early morning runs were rare and awful (that was when I was a teenager). Now I am so used to running and racing early, dragging myself to an evening track race has been quite a thought! It will probably be a shock to your system but it’s good to mix it up a bit, right?! Good luck!

  22. says

    Sounds like fun!
    I’ve run a couple evening races. We used to have the Race the Twilight marathon and half in August. I ran the half one year; it was actually ok and kind of nice to run towards twilight.
    I’ve also been the captain of our Corporate Challenge team for the road race the past three years. The race always starts at 7p.m., and I really struggle with what to eat. I work all day so found that eating a normal breakfast and lunch and then another light breakfast around 4p.m. worked well.
    Good luck!
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  23. says

    You may be surprised how you’ll do. I know when I run in the evenings, which is once per week, it takes me a bit to get the ‘day’ out of my legs, but with a good warmup and perhaps a gel (or other fuel you’re used to) beforehand for morning races, you should be in ok shape. I’ve found that works well-even for morning folk!

    I did an afternoon 5k, and actually it went pretty well a few years back….
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  24. says

    I’ve done a couple of evening races and I can’t say I’m a big fan. The whole needing to go to the toilet thing was pretty stressful – it just works in the morning. And because I’m used to running in the morning my body just complains about running late.
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  25. says

    Ohhh, I ran the Rockville Twilight fest years ago, back when we lived in Montgomery county. I just remember it was weird running in the dark. There was hardly any lights in areas and it was “different”-since you can’t see everyone. Have fun!
    Heather Winkler recently posted..Road Trip!My Profile

  26. says

    I’ve never done an evening race– fueling seems like the trickiest part for me, too. But with the heat and running with a friend, it sounds like the ideal race to run for the enjoyment of it, and not stress too much about racing. Curious to hear about it!
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  27. says

    Woo-hoo! I am running Rockville Twilight too! We must meet up! I have run a few night races (used to do those ridiculous midnight Women’s Distance Festivals in Columbia years ago, until I tripped over a rock I couldn’t see…) and ran Rockville last year when it wasn’t quite as blisteringly hot as usual. I also have trouble with the eating and suffered from some stomach cramps last year. I think this year I’ll focus on drinking plenty and nibbling throughout the day. The race is so late it’s almost bedtime when you’re done!
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