One of the important things to remember about marathons is that you train like you race. You don't try out a new pair of shoes on race day because they're not broken in and might cause hot spots or worse, blisters. You don't try out a new pair of running shorts or a new technical top on race day because they might ride up, or chafe, or do something else weird that bugs you for the three, four, five, or six hours you're running. And you DEFINITELY don't eat new energy bars or drink new sports drinks before OR during the race. That's a sure way to get all kinds of intestinal discomfort.
Instead we're taught to experiment with these things during our training period so that on race day we know exactly what we're going to wear and exactly what/when/how much we're going to eat or drink. There are so many unpredictable things that can go wrong on race day (ie, bad weather, rough course, etc) that you want to carefully consider and plan out the things you can control. So shouldn't that also apply to what time of day we run?
Marathons are always early in the morning, some of them earlier than others depending on the time of year and the location. I think the earliest race we've ever run was the Myrtle Beach Marathon in 2008, which started at 6:30 AM. Most marathons seem to start between 7:00 and 7:30 AM, although the Crazy Horse Marathon starts at the decent hour of 8. The reason behind the early starting times is two-fold. First, public roads have to be closed down for the majority of marathon courses. The earlier the race begins, the earlier the race will be over and the roads can be reopened to vehicle traffic. Race organizers have to get approval from the city to close down the roads, so the sooner they can reopen them the more likely they are to get approved. Second, summertime marathons usually start early for the obvious reason that it's cooler in the morning. Most runners are finished before noon and successfully avoid running during the hottest, most grueling part of the day.
So if we train like we race, then I should be doing all of my training runs first thing in the morning, especially now that it's summer and going outside after about 10:00 AM is unspeakable. But herein lies the problem. I hate running in the morning. I'm not much of a morning person, so the thought of going for a run when I'm all bleary-eyed, sleepy, and haven't yet had any coffee is just... too much. I like to spend my mornings with a cup of coffee, leisurely eating my breakfast and watching the news or reading morning prayer.... all, of course, in the comfort of my pajamas.
I would much rather go running just after lunch, between 2:00 and 3:00 PM (which is one reason why I love the fall and spring so much). By the late afternoon it's still too hot and by early evening I'm usually too tired from the day to want to go run. I could wait until after dinner (since it doesn't get dark here until almost 9:30 PM), which is something I used to do when I first got into marathoning. In that scenario, I end up eating dinner, waiting the requisite two hours for my food to settle, running, showering, and going straight to bed. But where I live, it isn't always safe for a woman to run that late.
So I have quite a dilemma to contend with. I should just get up and do my runs in the morning, but I pretty much suck at self-motivating. I could just do them after dinner in the early evening, but I still pretty much suck at self-motivating. For now, I'll just be thankful that the recent rain storms have kept the temperature relatively low and have allowed me to sneak in runs during the afternoon. In the meantime, I'm going to work on figuring out new ways to motivate myself to get out of bed a little earlier and head outside.