Devoted runners are a lot like the U.S. Postal Service. Come sun, rain, sleet or snow, they usually find a way to get out there and do what they need to do. But even at least most postal workers go home before the sun goes down.
Nowadays, many runners choose to forgo the early morning approach and sunny days altogether by lacing up and hoofing it under the night sky.
"When I get to run at night, it's really cool," said Matt Reno, board member of BLUEgrass Runners, a non-profit running organization in Lexington. "It just creates a different atmosphere than you're used to on normal runs."
But atmosphere is only one reason why runners choose nighttime running. It's certainly a more appealing option for people who have trouble getting up in the morning, and the lack of sunlight means cooler temperatures and no need for sunscreen.
For many runners who juggle hectic schedules at work and at home, night running provides the window to hit their stride instead of forgoing the activity, and it might be a time when they have more energy after the day's tasks are completed.
"There's just more people active now," said John Sensenig, owner of John's Run/Walk Shop in Lexington. "They get it in whenever they can."
While night running has its benefits, it also comes with challenges that require a bit of preparation.
Make sure to dress properly. Just because the sun is gone doesn't mean you can't get a bit overheated part way through your run. Also, wear bright and/or reflective clothing to make yourself more visible.
Speaking of visibility, try to find a familiar, well-lit area for your run to be safe from any outside dangers and illuminate your running path. You can even go as far as buying a head lamp, which Sensenig sells at his store. If you can't see very well to find your footing, Sensenig says to opt for the street (moving toward oncoming traffic) for a safer and smoother surface.
"Lexington sidewalks leave something to be desired," he said, laughing.
There are certain habits you might want to change if you decide to go running at night. First, leave the iPod or MP3 player at home. You want to be extra aware while running at night to avoid the chance of being attacked or mugged. The probability of this happening also can be decreased if you have a friend tag along.
Finally, if you run at night, don't run too late — especially if you have to work the next morning. Getting your body revved up too close to bedtime might prevent you from getting a good night's rest, so leave enough time to cool down before you call it a night.
Evening hours might not replace sunrise as the ideal time to squeeze in your run, but nighttime races certainly have become more popular and prevalent. Night races have popped up all over the country, including A Midsummer Night's Run, a popular yearly 5K that will be Saturday in downtown Lexington.
Ruth Ann Childers, spokesperson for the event, said that unlike morning races, night races turn into more festive affairs, with events, along with a look and feel, that seems to speak to night running's overall appeal.
"No matter how hot it is during the day, it always seems cooler at night," Childers said. "It's just a different look."