Early Morning MAP Sessions

Greetings to all there,

Currently going through a heat wave where I live I have shifted my training to the early morning before work. I understand everyone will have different experiences with early morning workouts, but personally I like doing them early. In fact, when I do Cobbler I like doing it before breakfast (I never do more than 2 hours in a fasted state though). All this to come to the intensity subject (MAP). This week I had On Locaion Luberon and I just couldn’t cope with the intervals. The first one went OK. Afterwards it was a battle to the death with the discomfort. Needless to say, I did not manage to hit the targets in the 4,5minutes interval for the last minute and a half or so (maybe more). Since I did not feel I was limited by my legs but rather with coping with an elevated HR (top Z4 / low Z5), I wonder if:

Besides the mental aspect (being still sluggish) are there some physiological reasons MAP intervals are way harder in the morning ?

I guess the workout will still be effective as long as we push the body to the limits during the intervals.


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you might not be eating enough. what do you eat and drink before and during the MAP workouts?

How long after breakfast are you doing the workouts? The episode of The Knowledge Podcast that covers pre-ride nutrition has some good information on how to time meals with workouts. If you’re eating some big fibrous breakfast ~30 minutes before the workout, there’s a real good chance your body hasn’t had a time to digest that, and once your workout starts it’s just going to sit there unprocessed while your body takes energy/water away from digestion.


When I do longer endurance rides I generally do not eat at all before/during my workout unless I plan to ride 2 hours or longer (generally anything over 90 minutes).

And if I’m doing a hard, but short interval workout (30-40 minutes) I generally won’t either.

But if I do a longer or more intense interval workout (especially 45 minutes or longer) or one that spends a lot of time over my FTP, then I will eat before (and during, depending on the length).

I noticed this helps the quality of my harder intensity workouts. Like The Shovel or Violator. And even on some shorter but very intense workouts like Revolver.

If I want a quality workout, I’ll make sure I fuel before. You don’t have to fuel before a short intense workout, but generally your workouts are higher quality when you’re adequately fueled. And what that means will differ depending on the time of day you wake up, eat, and work out.

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So I’d counter this a bit since you started struggling after the first interval. I’d generally expect to get through about half an hour provided my 4DP is correct without any food. Likewise you mention doing Cobbler before breakfast.

Now eating beforehand will improve your workouts, allowing you to dig deeper and longer, so all the advice given is applicable.

But because your struggles came so early in the workout, you’ll need to consider the temperature in your pain cave, your current level of fatigue and potentially retest to see if your MAP has declined.


Indeed my fatigue level is high, but the first interval felt pretty comfortable before it hit the fan.

Actually I do (early) morning workouts fasted. Maybe something to change…but for those of us with a 9 to 5 job it becomes a bit complicated. The other option is penalizing sleep and waking up earlier to be able to eat an hour before. Otherwise what would be the best fueling scenario; a gel ?

Besides that the only thing that crosses my mind is a longer warm-up to “wake up”.

Thanks for your comments !

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One possibility not brought up so far is humidity, although I’m not sure where you are. As the adage goes, “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” and in many climates the early morning is a peak for humidity levels. This is the case for me in Washington, DC and in the past few weeks I’ve had to adjust a few workouts down as I’m not fully acclimated.

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i have found that i do not necessarily NEED to eat an hour before, in order to get good quality out of a short hard workout.

LIke, would the quality be best if i got up 3.5 hours earlier and ate a stack of pancakes? Sure but it’s rarely feasible and/or the tradeoffs are worse, as you mentioned.

But what i can do is hit up something simple (like a banana, a gel, some cliff shot blocks) right before i get on the bike and then sip on a sports drink. I’m generally good to go, digestion isn’t an issue and it may not be perfect but it’s way better than nothing.

It doesn’t need to be binary, all on or all-off.


Hi @Reynaldo_Lopez - as you’ve seen from other commenters, there’s not going to be any one idea of solution that might help you be able to better handle early morning higher intensity/MAP focussed sessions, but there are few things worth considering.

  1. Many folks need additional warm-up time for higher intensity sessions, especially those that come before you’ve been up and awake for a while. Adding in one of the newer NoVid warm-up options or even simply riding easy for an additional 10-15 minutes before you start your session could help. In a time crunched scenario that’s a little more difficult…but if you’ve done sessions like Cobbler in the morning, it sounds like a longer warm-up would be a good idea.
  2. Higher intensity sessions like MAP focussed sessions require more carbohydrate than do lower intensity sessions (like Cobbler)…and overnight your body’s live glycogen stores get depleted…and if you’re not taking in any fuel before or during your ride there’s a good chance that you simply don’t have adequate carbohydrate fuel available. To counter that, you could start drinking a carbohydrate/electrolyte sports drink as you start the workout…or even better, down an entire bottle during the easy 10-15 minute additional warm-up as I recommend in point 1 above.
  3. There’s plenty of research that indicates that diurnal/circadian rhythms impact exercise performance relative to things like body temperature, hormone levels, etc. all impacting performance. Most evidence show that later afternoon/early evening is when peak performance is available to more folks…so that could be a factor as well. See Circadian Rhythms in Exercise Performance: Implications for Hormonal and Muscular Adaptation - PMC for more reading on that.
  4. Lastly, if you try adding a little more warm-up and fuel to the mix and you still don’t perform as well, it’s okay to adjust the target power - as in all training, our primary goal is the appropriate effort regardless of the output. Just like your power output would be reduced if it’s hot or if you’re altitude, etc. doing efforts in the morning might be fighting against your actual true capacity at that time, so it’s okay to dial down the target and focus on the effort rather than the power and/or heart rate.

Hope that helps!


Sir Neal: Wouldn’t Igniter be just about right here for the warmup? Also, wouldn’t a banana or other easily digested carbohydrate be good for fueling followed by a carb full breakfast after the entire workout?

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This is my approach as well for morning rides and i haven’t experienced any digestive issues going that route. Eating some quick fuel often provides a mental advantage for me whether or not that fuel is actually ready for my body to use.


Thanks, this helps big time.

With respects to carbs drinks, I am guessing a fruit juice can do the trick ?

I will give different options a try and see what suits me better.

This has been very helpful, thanks to all who have contributed =)

Fruit juice is very acidic, even worse for your teeth than sugary energy drinks.

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@Reynaldo_Lopez Maple syrup and maltodextrin based products may also be a good option for you.


Skratch has a new flavor variety: Clear. It is a combination of Hydration and Superfuel without the aftertaste and the ‘heavy’ flavor.

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@Reynaldo_Lopez also see this thread about early morning fueling https://wahoox.forum.wahoofitness.com/t/early-morning-fueling/14253?u=sir_brian_m


I have Honey Stinger gels and stroopwaffles that I can eat 20 minutes before an early morning ride and gatorade or some natural energy drink mix (without caffeine) that I can add to my water if I’m doing anything over an hour or if I’m feeling particularly fatigued or lacking energy. Or an apple or a banana if I want something more natural. Sometimes the effect is more mental than physical. Something sweet has been shown to improve performance even if it’s not able to be digested and used.

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There’s one factor that seems to have passed a bit under the radar. The temperature of the room where you train. I also train in the morning without having breakfast. What mostly impact my performance in ambiant temperature of the room. When trainning indoors in summer time I redo a ftp test and usually the numbers are a bit lower. (I live where in winter it’s-30c and summer +30c out side.) I have a fan but when doing some of the intense workout the difference can be seen on the floor between summer or winter time. More sweat.

I also take the vega pre workout with sugar(carbs that are easily digest.) for really intense workout and always drinking electrolyte.

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Indoor heat and air flow definitely makes a difference.

When I wake up in the summer at 5am it’s easily still 80-85F outside and my a/c is set to 78F. I’ll close the door to my office/pain cave so I don’t wake up the family with my 3 fans running and the noise of my Kickr Core. And even then when I come out an hour or two later the room will be quite a bit warmer and more humid that the rest of the house. Easily closer to 85F.

In the winter it’s much easier to hit all my power targets. But in the summer it’s noticeably hotter and harder. And when the ac kicks on and starts blowing on me I get a definite small and short-lived power surge.