Evening runs can be tough.

Especially if you’ve just finished a hard day of work. I love running in the mornings, but many people have jobs that don’t always allow for that. Like Matt.

MATT’S QUESTION

I always seem to have more energy during a run when I wake up in the morning. My after work runs in the evenings have been very difficult for me lately.

When I run on weekends it is early in the morning. I almost always feel really good and pull off some long runs. Last night I got home from work and got out to run about 6:30. I felt sluggish right away. This happens quite often. I sit at a computer eight hours per day. I am not tired during the day, though I am getting really tired around 8-9 pm.

What can I do to provide the energy I need to have a good after work run?

MICHAEL ANDREW’S ANSWER

It’s always a good idea to run when you feel the most energy. There’s not a whole lot you can do to change your body clock. Some people are morning people, others have more energy later in the day. So if you feel at your best early in the morning, then try to schedule most of your runs then.

Assuming your schedule doesn’t permit you to do that and you have to run at night, you’re facing an uphill battle, though not an insurmountable one.

The challenge of getting your body ready to exercise after working eight hours (not to mention commuting, doing chores, errands, etc.) is difficult to overcome even for the biggest “night owls.”

You might find it helpful to have more energy-providing foods later in the day (more nutritional information below), though not necessarily stimulants such as caffeine which may affect your sleep.

It’s also worthwhile playing around with your workouts. For example, some people find that taking more time to warm up is a good way to shake off that sluggish feeling. Others find a good sprint or a few minutes of other high intensity exercise (i.e. jumping jacks, burpees, etc.) will provide the invigoration they’re looking for.

One final thing worth mentioning is that working out at night can often mean that you lose out on sleep as you unwind from your exercise session. The lack of sleep could in turn lead to more sluggishness the next day. So if you are going to run at night, try to schedule it such that you can cool down, unwind and still get the amount of sleep your body needs.

Hope this information is useful and good luck.

Michael Andrew

Running Coach & Trainer

If you have a question for Michael, you can contact him at mkonlinetraining@gmail.com.

FOUR TIPS FOR BOOSTING ENERGY THROUGH NUTRITION

The two most common complaints for which people see a nutritionist are weight loss and fatigue. Everybody wants more energy, and in order to accomplish this we must look at food and digestion.

My Answer for Matt:

I have already reviewed your eating habits and determined that you are eating regularly and healthfully. For most people, the elimination of processed and refined foods will dramatically increase their energy levels. But the tips I have included here are based on the assumption that you have already done this.

1. Reduce Stress

Because I know you are eating well, I would look at whether anything may be affecting your digestion or absorption of nutrients. We can eat all the right things, but if we are not absorbing them properly, our bodies will not get nourished and we will feel fatigued.

The number one factor that generally hinders digestion and leads to fatigue is stress. Stress rapidly depletes nutrients by burning through them. This means that there are less nutrients available to nourish your blood and feed your muscles and cells.

Supporting digestion by reducing stress will instantly contribute towards your athletic goals by increasing your nutrient access and giving you more energy.

2. Support your liver.

Out of all the organs, our liver is considered the body’s powerhouse. Decreasing the toxic load on the liver often results in an energy surge as our liver springs back to life. As a result, improved liver function is often the quickest and most reliable way to increase energy.

Think of your liver as a filter. When that filter becomes clogged up, production ceases and your energy flops. When it is functioning optimally, your head is clear and your energy is high. Besides eliminating toxic foods from your diet, there are two cleanses you can do on a regular basis to support your liver. While these are each safe enough to use on a daily basis, even doing them once a month would still be effective.

Gentle Liver Cleanse I

Squeeze half a lemon into a warm or lukewarm glass of water first thing in the morning and drink it 20 minutes before breakfast. It is important that the water not be cold, because cold water will shock your digestive system. Cold water requires more time to process because calories must be used to warm it up before it can get to your liver. Warm or lukewarm water will access your liver much sooner. Cold water in the morning can also suppress appetite, which is not ideal (but often suggested as a weight loss tip). You should still feel hungry by breakfast. The lemon will act as a cleaning agent. It will unclog that filter.

Some people can work their way up to a whole lemon a day, but that takes time. This may initially act as a diuretic because it stimulates the toxins in your liver to be released from your body. If this becomes uncomfortable or if you experience a headache (also due to toxins being dislodged from your liver and released into your bloodstream), reduce the amount of lemon you are using. Over time, as your liver becomes used to this cleanse, you will be able to use more lemon for a more thorough cleanse.

I have added a second cleanse that you may use instead of this one, because some people find it difficult to remember things in the morning. I suggest you pick the one you prefer and stick with that.

Gentle Liver Cleanse II

Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of warm or lukewarm water. Drink it 20 minutes before any meal. The vinegar will work similarly to the lemon. If you forget to take it, it is still useful during or after a meal. But it will have the greatest effect on your liver 20 minutes before you eat.

You can also begin incorporating apple cider vinegar into your diet. It is most commonly used as a salad dressing. It is very liver-friendly and healing no matter how you consume it.

3. Consider supplementation.

Not everyone wants to take supplements, but there are many people who are interested in energy-boosting supplementation. I have included some here for your consideration.

Fatigue-related nutrient deficiencies generally involve iron, the B vitamins, folic acid, iodine, potassium, or magnesium. Extra B2 (riboflavin) has been shown to increase resistance to fatigue, especially when combined with exercise. Taking even as little as 10mg before a run can help increase performance and endurance.

4. Consider an herbal boost.

Here is a list of some herbs related to fighting fatigue:

Giseng – relieves physical fatigue; has antistress effects.

Gotu kola – provides mental stimulation; improves mental clarity and memory

Cayenne pepper – increases energy; natural stimulant

Peppermint leaf – quick energy; aids digestion

Ginger root – helps with low energy, nausea, headaches; stimulates digestion and circulation

Licorice root – a balancer used for improving energy levels through enhanced body function

BONUS TIPS

For more tips, there is a great blog post about evening runs at irunnerblog.com. It was written by a physical therapist in NYC, and addresses how to avoid feeling sluggish.

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