How to Work Out in the Morning Without Ruining Your Day

How to Work Out in the Morning Without Ruining Your Day
Photo: Eak.Temwanich, Shutterstock

When I’m marathon training (brag), I wake up far earlier than I do for my usual weekend runs. My post-run ritual on those days is to conk out for a mid-morning nap soon after, or else doom myself to low energy levels for the rest of the day. I know I’m not alone in feeling post-workout fatigue; as this runner on Reddit puts it, “I don’t understand how people can run in the morning and be a functional human being afterwards.”

Wait, aren’t morning workouts supposed to boost energy levels, not deplete them? It doesn’t always feel that way — yet for a lot of us, the morning is the best (or only) time to get a little exercise in. So how can you prevent post-workout fatigue from affecting the rest of your day? Focus on the three main areas below and you’ll reap the benefits of morning exercise and stay energised for the rest of the day.

Get the most out of your sleep

There’s a huge chance y0u’re not tired from your workout itself, but from inadequate sleep the night before. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your morning workout so you can squeeze in another hour of sleep though: As we noted when we debunked the most common myths about sleep, each of us needs a different amount of sleep to be productive, and the whole “8 hours” thing is more of a guideline than a rule. If your sleep schedule is a struggle, here are our tips for getting the most out of your sleep.

Fuel yourself properly

First things first: Your nutritional needs vary depending on your lifestyle and fitness goals. Second things second: Despite pervasive ideas about it “burning more fat,” it’s not necessary to work out on an empty stomach. “The advantage of getting calories [around your] workout [is that they] will ‘spare’ some of these internal stores and prolong your time to exhaustion,” says Trevor Kashey, PhD, a biochemist and nutrition consultant who spoke to us about fuelling before and after strength-training workouts.

So instead of a fasted workout, consider getting in some carbs first. Chow down on some toast, a banana, or overnight oats. And when you’re working out, it becomes even more important to make sure you’re getting enough protein in general.

Hydrate (or diedrate)

Proper hydration is key to staying refreshed — and alive, I guess. (Here is our best advice on how much water you should drink before, during, and after exercise). And while sports drinks are mostly pointless, the crux of their marketing is true: electrolytes are important, too. In this r/running thread, replenishing electrolytes is the number one thing Reddit runners say they need to do to recover after a long run.

Still, unless you’re training for an endurance races, you probably want to avoid wasting money on health gimmicks and stick to drinking plain ol’ water. As long as you drink enough to satisfy your thirst, you’re good.

Listen to your body

Sleep, food, and water are critical, sure. But how much you need of each to avoid feeling fatigued after a morning workout will vary from person to person, so listen to your body. Don’t try to force anything, one way or another. If you’re still feeling exhausted by 11 a.m., maybe the right solution for you is simply to find a way to work out in the evenings instead.

For runners specifically: The majority (typically 80%) of your runs should be easy runs, and these easy runs shouldn’t knock you out. Make sure your training program isn’t too intense, and that you’re taking the time to run easy on most of your runs.

And remember, there could be other underlying medical causes for post-workout fatigue, so if you suspect there’s another reason you’re feeling unusually exhausted, consult your doctor.

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