Why would I find it easier to run in the evening than in the morning?

For some reasons, I always find it physically harder to run in the morning. On my usual 3.6km run this morning, I am feeling breathless just a few minutes in. I usually don’t feel any breathlessness if I run at night. I have no idea why this is happening.

I did drink enough water, had at least 8 hours of sleep and went without breakfast before the run. If I run in the morning, usually I go half an hour after waking up and doing some light stretching.

Does anyone else find it better to run in evening as opposed to morning (or Vcce versa?)

I always felt wretched in the morning. Even in high school and college, morning workouts were horrible.

If I could take an hour to wake up and move around, it was better.

When I was bike commuting, I did just that , wake up at a ridiculous hour so I could ride with some degree of efficiency.

I’ve honestly never felt any difference between morning and evening workouts, but I prefer working out later in the day. When I can get off my ass, it’s great to get an early run in, but my energy levels are about the same (although my motivation is better in the evening.)

Thread title changed at OP’s request.

I no longer jump out of bed to run either. I get up, take care of business, and check the computer for an hour. Still, it takes half a mile to get my heartbeat up to where I can run normally. (My resting beat is in the 30’s and a pacemaker may be needed.) After you have been up all day, all systems are ready to go.

I have always found it more difficult to exercise in the morning. I seem to recall the chance of heart attack is significantly increased in the morning. There are a number of changes that occur in your blood pressue, hormones, etc, that occur within the first couple of hours of waking, so it is not that surprising that you might not feel at your peak.

Total WAG, but could it have something to do with temperature/air-density differences between your morning and evening running times?

Advice and anecdotes on physiological topics, including training as well as medical issues, go in IMHO, so I’ll move this thither for you.

twickster, MPSIMS moderator


When was the last time you ate relative to the runs? If in the evening, say before dinner, you probably ate maybe 5-6 hours ago at lunch. But if you run in the morning before having any breakfast, you are probably close to 12 hours without a significant amount of food. That makes a big differences in your body’s energy reserves. Closer to a meal means more easily accessible energy, but if you go too long, then it’s all converted into “storage” and your liver has to work on turning it back into glucose so you can use it.

Really? I prefer to exercise in the mornings when it is cooler. Can you please point me in the direction of some research on this? I hate to think I’m doing more harm than good by walking in the mornings. I can change my habits though if the research indicates I should. Thanks.

I don’t have any particular insight into this and any research that I could point to would be the same you could find with a quick google. The idea that more heart attacks occur in the morning seems well established.

Whether exercising in the morning necessarily puts you at a greater risk, I don’t know. Absent having a heart attack, I don’t think you would be doing any harm. My point was really that there are physiological differences between the morning and the evening and thus it is not surprising that one might perform better during one time or the other.

bouv’s point about eating/food may be more relevent.

I think a fair amount of difficulty is from the high levels of cortisol present in the morning. Waking up is just about the most stressful thing we do every day and cortisol peaks in serum concentration just before we arise. Cortisol, among many other actions, counteracts the effects of insulin and constricts blood vessels, in effect blocking muscle cells from getting the glucose and oxygen they need.

I find that I’m significantly weaker in the mornings as well. I absolutely can not lift weights in the morning – I just don’t have the energy. I can run, but have to take it slower.

A self proclaimed “fitness expert” told me that it was because there are no sugars in your body in the morning. And, if you want to lose weight, morning is the best time to exercise because your body has to convert stored energy (fat) into sugar to power your muscles.

Now I realize how unacademic that sounds, and I suspect he meant some kind of glucose when he said sugars, but it actually does seem to make sense. It also seem to agree with what Bouv said up thread.

I am a cranky morning person, too, and hate exercising or running at all in the morning. I’ve tried but just can’t get moving. I don’t have the strength or energy.

OP, you are definitely not alone, and I am always amazed at people who do it. I cann’t even get awake until i take a shower, so then what am I supposed to do? Shower, exercise, shower again?

That’s interesting, I’d never read that.

Most of my cardio work is done in the mornings, because it’s much cooler and I get it out of the way. Getting up at 6am to do 45 minutes of running does always feel like I’m forcing myself to do it for the first 10-15 minutes before I loosen up. But after finishing a run I always feel kind of energized and need time to cool down, which becomes a problem if I wait until after work to do it. It becomes after dinner and after putting kids to bed, which becomes something like 9pm, which usually means I’m too “wired” to fall asleep until midnight, and often later. Not so good when I have to get up by 7am.

So between the two I’d still choose to do it in the morning because the likely alternative outcome (from past experience) is not to do it at all.

I generally prefer morning running. By the end of the day, I’ve been walking around in shoes that may or may not be the best, I’ve eaten food that may or may not sit well, I’ve exerted myself at work, my back may hurt from sitting at my computer, etc.

That said, these days if I miss a morning run, I do try to go in the evening. Mornings are preferable and more predictable for me (plus I do prefer the cooler temps), but somehow evenings feel more doable than they used to.

This is one thing I can try. I usually run without breakfast; I will try having a light breakfast and hitting the track 30 minutes after.

Are there any studies showing how long does it take for the level of cortisol to subside?

I’ve had some luck recently eating a small bowl of granola (as in, 3-4 bites), usually dry, before my morning runs. Along with a glass of water. For me, this is a small enough amount of food that I don’t run into any problems with full-stomach effects - I can begin working out immediately. “Real” breakfast in the form of a normal-sized bowl of cereal gets eaten after I’ve showered and dressed.

It seems to help prevent a feeling of running out of energy after about 30 minutes - my usual habit on workout days is to jump out of bed and hit the road as quickly as practical (15 minutes or so). I did 4 miles Wednesday morning and then did the same run yesterday evening after work (having overslept yesterday) - perceived effort was about the same, as was my time.

I’m a night person through and through.

When looking for a gym, I look at how late they close. It is not unusual for me to go for a 10mi run on the indoor track at the YMCA and be walking through the doors as they shut at 10pm.

Can’t stand getting up early. I can’t imagine running before work.

It’s just one of those things. You know when you run best, so run at that time.

When working on a fairly typical office schedule, most recently 9a - 6p, I’ve always found it easier to work out in the morning. For many jobs, the prospect of leaving work on time and getting your workout are a lot dicier than finding time in the morning.