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How to get energy for morning rides?

Old 07-28-21, 08:19 AM
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How to get energy for morning rides?

It is really hot here so I am switching to doing more morning rides. I'm not a real morning person though and I notice it in my performance. Here for example is my power curve on the ride I did this morning, plotted against my 6-week average (which is probably 80% not-in-morning). As you can see I had a lot less on the burst side, and 10-15 watts less on average. I felt good other than being a bit lower on energy, and was plenty cool since it was not that hot and I was wetting myself with a bottle of ice water.

Part of it I expect is just experience, as I do more AM rides I will adapt. But, I'm curious what morning regulars do to get enough energy. Currently I am eating my usual small breakfast of one piece of PB toast, and also quaffing one gel before I prep for the ride (I added the latter after I noticed my lower energy levels). I don't do anything special the night before. Since I am going to be riding 15 minutes after breakfast I don't really want to eat too much, but maybe I should eat more? Or, eat more the night before??

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Old 07-28-21, 08:31 AM
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What makes you think your inability to develop short-interval power in the morning is a metabolic issue related to food intake? Seems like a leap to me. All kinds of performance parameters vary diurnally.

Me, I just have a quick snack or nothing but coffee before anything shorter than about three hours and I do all my rides in the morning this time of year.
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Old 07-28-21, 08:39 AM
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Go to bed earlier. And Coffee.
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Old 07-28-21, 08:56 AM
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Yeah caffeine… from a Monster if you don’t like coffee.

Also, you may need to plan on a longer warm up period in the morning, but for
myself, the morning start is more of a psychological barrier I have to get through.
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Old 07-28-21, 09:01 AM
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I am a morning person but generally ride a bit later in the day anyway. But this summer I've been getting out earlier since our days are hotter (relative, for moderate Seattle but we did hit 108F at the end of June). You just might have to get use to a bit lesser performance. As mentioned, everyone has a different daily cycle. Just go with it.
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Old 07-28-21, 09:38 AM
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just because you're doing a physical activity, doesn't necessitate forcing the consumption of food. The PB might be all that you need. Take the other stuff with you for the ride, but more than likely you'll just need water.
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Old 07-28-21, 09:46 AM
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OK it sounds like it probably is just related to me not being super energetic in the morning .. no surprise there really, I am very much a night person.

I do get plenty of sleep and also have lots of coffee before heading out.

Hopefully if I do this morning business for another six months I will adapt a bit. In any case it is not the biggest deal, the less energetic AM rides are a lot better than roasting in a humid 90F that we will have here in a few hours.
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Old 07-28-21, 10:03 AM
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I'm not a morning person, but pretty much made myself one by getting up early and just moving (always taking jobs that start at or before 7am didn't hurt either). Eventually you get used to it. Everyone is different, but a quick shower wakes me up faster, and a relaxed warm up makes me feel better on the bike within about 30 min.
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Old 07-28-21, 11:37 AM
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A couple big mugs of strong coffee?
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Old 07-28-21, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
But, I'm curious what morning regulars do to get enough energy.
Sleep 8 hours (go to bed by 10), wake about one hour before I plan to depart. Eat healthy food all day, alcohol in moderation (1-2 drinks max the evening before), cup of espresso and a Stroopwaffel before I depart. There's no magical secret.
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Old 07-28-21, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
OK it sounds like it probably is just related to me not being super energetic in the morning .. no surprise there really, I am very much a night person.

I do get plenty of sleep and also have lots of coffee before heading out.

Hopefully if I do this morning business for another six months I will adapt a bit. In any case it is not the biggest deal, the less energetic AM rides are a lot better than roasting in a humid 90F that we will have here in a few hours.
Yeah, I think that's the key. Especially if you're getting up earlier than you normally have been, it will take time to adapt. You may need more time spent warming up to be able to really push hard, because you're dealing with your body being used to low activity at that time of day, plus usually when I wake up my muscles need some time to start working smoothly.
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Old 07-28-21, 12:32 PM
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I'm definitely no expert, but I'm looking at your power graph, and here's what I think...

You seem to have nearly as much energy on your latest ride as your six week average. Everything above about 90 second duration is virtually the same... "10-15 watts less" is only 5-8%. In a race, 5% is everything. But in a race, you'd have much more motivation to push yourself. If you're not a morning person, the fact that you're getting out at all is commendable, and improving your performance that little bit might only require a little mental effort.

Clearly, you didn't peak as high, and there is a significant difference for all durations below one minute. But I think this graphic gives a skewed view (hey, that rhymes!) of your overall performance. If you're trying to match your previous (afternoon/evening) instantaneous or short duration max output, there's obviously some work needed. But I wouldn't be too upset over the whole-ride average.

One idea, maybe you've already tried?... Before starting your ride, do some quick, high intensity warmups. Dynamic stretching, jumping jacks, run in place for a minute, something like that. Maybe even spend five minutes on stuff aimed at getting your heart and lungs up to speed. I don't practice what I preach here, usually just hop right on and start riding. I wonder if it would make a difference though.
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Old 07-28-21, 12:43 PM
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For a 45 minute ride first thing in the morning, food and energy stores shouldn't be an issue, unless you're doing something horrendously wrong with your eating habits, like outright starving yourself. For ~1 hour rides in the morning, I don't even bother with coffee before leaving.

It's also worth noting that the upper line isn't your average, it's your *best* performance for a given duration over the selected time frame, so for that 18:45 mark, you're not 16 watts off of your average, you're 16w off of your best. This is not something that I'd worry about - just keep at it.
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Old 07-28-21, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by 1979schwinn View Post
go to bed earlier and sober. And coffee.
fify
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Old 07-28-21, 12:48 PM
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It's common to be a little dehydrated first thing in the morning. That might explain the relative sluggishness when you ride early.

Try weighing yourself at bed time and after you first get up. You probably lose upwards of 2 pounds of water weight overnight.
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Old 07-28-21, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
For a 45 minute ride first thing in the morning, food and energy stores shouldn't be an issue, unless you're doing something horrendously wrong with your eating habits, like outright starving yourself. For ~1 hour rides in the morning, I don't even bother with coffee before leaving.

It's also worth noting that the upper line isn't your average, it's your *best* performance for a given duration over the selected time frame, so for that 18:45 mark, you're not 16 watts off of your average, you're 16w off of your best. This is not something that I'd worry about - just keep at it.
Oh, yeah, that's a good point! Your power curve for any given ride would only match the top line if it were the hardest ride you've done.
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Old 07-28-21, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
the upper line isn't your average, it's your *best* performance for a given duration over the selected time frame
Good point! I almost never use the web Strava, I just went there to grab some data for my post when I felt like I had less power on the bike this morning.

Changing the pop-down to the last week I am still down about 10 watts on average. So I do think I was off my pace a bit this morning. My average watts and NP are also down on my AM rides relative to others.

Re: the other suggestions, I might have had a bit of alcohol left in my blood. The pandemic opened my alcohol cabinet wide, now I often have a nightcap whereas before it was more like wine with dinner. I will make a point to pay attention to that and see if it is a factor.
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Old 07-28-21, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
Good point! I almost never use the web Strava, I just went there to grab some data for my post when I felt like I had less power on the bike this morning.

Changing the pop-down to the last week I am still down about 10 watts on average. So I do think I was off my pace a bit this morning. My average watts and NP are also down on my AM rides relative to others.

Re: the other suggestions, I might have had a bit of alcohol left in my blood. The pandemic opened my alcohol cabinet wide, now I often have a nightcap whereas before it was more like wine with dinner. I will make a point to pay attention to that and see if it is a factor.
Again, I think that you're missing the forest for the trees - by all means, get better rest, but I don't think that this is a problem that you need to actively fix otherwise. You're going to have days where you feel off and days where you feel like a world-beater - that's natural. You may be better at one time of the day than at others - not necessarily a big deal, being off by 10w morning vs evening wouldn't be a blip on my radar.

Further, you don't really want to go out there and ride at the same output/pace all of the time, anyway, whether that's full gas or caf pace. You really want to switch it up. Hell, at this point, making a point of having easy rides would probably benefit you more than just trying to hammer all the time.
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Old 07-28-21, 02:28 PM
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You did a VO2 max effort in the 3-5 minute portion of the PD curve. How soon thereafter was the 20 minute effort?

The PD curve is compiled from all of your best efforts over many, many weeks.

It is impossible to say hit your best 4 minute effort as you did and then continue onwards to 20 minutes and hit that personal best, too.
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Old 07-28-21, 02:44 PM
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That's not a six week average. That's your best efforts for any given time period within the last six weeks. Being that close to your best effort is actually pretty good.
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Old 07-28-21, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Further, you don't really want to go out there and ride at the same output/pace all of the time, anyway, whether that's full gas or caf pace. You really want to switch it up. Hell, at this point, making a point of having easy rides would probably benefit you more than just trying to hammer all the time.
Currently I am doing about 2.5 hours a week total. My impression with that level of time commitment there is no reason not to do strong efforts all the time. That said, I do vary the effort a bit. The thing I don't like in the morning is I really don't have a choice, my body is telling me to ease up.

Re VO2 max, intervals etc, I'm doing no planned training. Just the old fashioned hard up the hills and easy down. This ride had 1000ft of vertical in many shapes and sizes.
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Old 07-28-21, 05:59 PM
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I'll swing the intensities every other week or month & notice my performance being where I want it. The daily or short of a week changes didn't help me any. The biggest impact to my performance was making it mandatory to have at least 1 full 24 hours of no purposed cardio exercise that required the legs per week. Sucks when winter comes around because those off days happen way too much!
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Old 07-28-21, 06:04 PM
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I've been doing every other day rides so 3-4 rest days each week. I might lift a few weights on off days but nothing too major. I started doing this when I got back into biking in early pandemic period, and I really like the rest days so have just kept them and instead have made the rides longer... started at 15 minutes and am at 45 minutes on average now. This is another reason why I don't mind going full gas most of the time, I should be fully recovered from the previous ride.
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Old 07-28-21, 06:55 PM
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I've been riding in the early mornings for decades. On the weekends at dawn, and during the week I do short (1 hr) rides before the sun comes up. I've never warmed up or eaten anything before riding in the AM, just getting dressed, getting the bike out the door is enough of a warm-up. While I probably am slower in the AM, I've always thought I got a better workout than riding later in the day (can't tell you why). As for nutrition, I just go by the old saying 'your energy comes from what you ate the night before'. Realize most foods won't digest to a usable form for (at a minimum) 1 - 1.5 hrs; I rarely ride more than 2 hours in a day, so eating just before a morning ride is useless to me. Water can be absorbed pretty quickly (like 20 minutes) so I just drink down a bottle before going out, and take 1-2 for the ride. YMMV Cheers.
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Old 07-28-21, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Again, I think that you're missing the forest for the trees - by all means, get better rest, but I don't think that this is a problem that you need to actively fix otherwise. You're going to have days where you feel off and days where you feel like a world-beater - that's natural. You may be better at one time of the day than at others - not necessarily a big deal, being off by 10w morning vs evening wouldn't be a blip on my radar.

Further, you don't really want to go out there and ride at the same output/pace all of the time, anyway, whether that's full gas or caf pace. You really want to switch it up. Hell, at this point, making a point of having easy rides would probably benefit you more than just trying to hammer all the time.
I'd like more of that other half of natural!
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