Morning, noon or night?

Something miraculous happened Friday morning.  I woke up before my alarm went off and actually got out of bed and on the treadmill.  Brice slept well (relatively speaking) so I woke up more rested than usual.  Without turning on any lights, I grabbed some clothes and went into the bathroom to get changed.

IMG_3259[1] This is the color combination that resulted from blindly grabbing clothes.  I’m not trying to make the impression that my running outfits always match but usually I try a little harder than this.  What happened next was 2.5 horrible miles.  The important thing is that I made myself get up and run BEFORE work.  Colin is a master at getting up in the mornings and training but I love our bed, it is very, very comfy and I have never been good at waking up early.  When I was in high school my mom would turn the lights on in my room and I’d still mange to over sleep most days of the week.  I’ve tried all the tricks, they just haven’t work for me.  However, I’m making this a priority to wake up earlier and get my workout in before work so that I can maximize on family time.

During my horrible 22 minutes on the treadmill I was trying to figure out why I felt so terrible.  There was the nagging pain in my right ankle.  Then I remember that was the same spot Brice dropped the big, wooden cutting board two days ago, so that wasn’t due to the time.  My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest, my stomach was rolling and I just overall felt horrible.  This got me to thinking about when is the best time to workout or run.  What I found was a little disappointing (but made a lot of sense): there is no one best time to work out.


The studies that I read up on had different focuses.  One study proved that working out early in the morning is best for a good night’s sleep.  Specifically they say 7 a.m.  “In all cases, those who exercised at 7 a.m. experienced about a 10 percent reduction in blood pressure that carried through the remainder of the day. They also had about a 25 percent dip in blood pressure at night, slept longer and had more beneficial sleep cycles than when they exercised at other times of the day.” Maybe 7 AM isn’t some magical time, but it was the fact that they worked out in the morning.

This study was performed to test if the time of day matters.  The authors took 16 male competitive cyclists and performed tests on them at either 6am or 6pm.  They use a whole bunch of fancy words like Wingate test, brake loads, and diurnal variation, but what it all boils down to is that the tests performed at 6pm had higher outputs of power.  Later in the day your core body temperature increases allowing for your joints and muscles to be looser.

When you eat before working out your body will use those glycogen stores to fuel your workout.  When you work out in the morning without eating first your body is forced to burn fat stores for energy.  This allows for you to burn more fat, but if you’re like me you feel terrible working out on an empty stomach.  I found these guidelines for eating before working out and thought it was a good basis.

Three or four hours before exercising, a large meal is fine (500 calories or more).
Two or three hours beforehand, a smaller meal is suitable (400 – 500 calories).
One or two hours before, a liquid meal is appropriate (300 – 400 calories).
With less than one hour, a small snack will do (200 – 300 calories).


In my opinion (which is solely my opinion with no medical basis to back it up) I think the best time to workout is whenever it is best FOR YOU.  Some people wake up and immediately feel great and ready to take on the world (eehhmmm Colin) and there are others of us that need time to get fueled and warmed up before working out (like me).  The ideal time for me to workout would be about 8:30 – 9 because then I would be able to wake up at a ‘normal’ time, eat breakfast, and have it settled and be loose before I workout.  With my job, that time is not possible, so a goal of mine is to figure out something I can eat immediately after waking up that won’t make me sick while working out.  It will probably take some experimenting, but since I really want to get my workouts in first thing I will figure it out! Eventually.

When do you feel would be your perfect workout time?

Do you eat before early morning workouts, if so what and how long before working out??



4 responses to “Morning, noon or night?

  1. Some studies show you perform best mid-afternoon because of body temperature and a few other factors. I do best at in the middle of the day, sometime between 11 and 2 is my favorite. Obviously, that’s not especially convenient many days so I’ll force myself to do morning workouts but I don’t enjoy them as much.

    • I ran yesterday at 11 and the timing was perfect. I agree that I don’t enjoy my morning workouts as much as my afternoon workouts!

  2. I do best in the evenings, around 4pm. My body likes to have a lot of fuel on board, so a day’s worth of food=optimal performance for me. Morning runs are tough for me but I do try to train then simply because that is when I do all of my racing. Too bad my intentions are great but I don’t end up getting out of the door until around noon. I am too easily distracted.

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