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Cross Training For Runners

Why Do You Feel Sleepy and Tired After Running? Explained

8 Mins read

Tired of feeling tired after your runs? Then worry no more. I’ve got your back!

Let’s face it, feeling tired after running is like being the last one picked for dodgeball in gym class. It’s frustrating, annoying, and downright discouraging.

Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or just starting out, feeling sleepy after running is not something you should brush off. It’s instead a clear singn that your body  trying to tell you something, and it’s time to listen to up.

In this article, I’ll give you the lowdown on the top six reasons why you feel tired after running and what you can do about it. Ready to kick this sluggishness to the curb? Let’s do this.

Sleepy After Running Fix – 1. Eat Well

One of the most common reasons for feeling tired after running is poor nutrition choices. Think of food as the fuel that powers your body during exercise.

Without the right fuel, your energy levels will quickly dwindle, leaving you feeling exhausted. So, what should you eat to avoid feeling sleepy after running?

First off, make sure to avoid running on an empty stomach, especially if you’re planning on a long run or intense interval workout. Instead, try having a carb-rich snack about 60 minutes before your run.

Some great post-run meal ideas include:

  • Low-fiber granola bar
  • A piece of fruit, such as an apple or a banana
  • Half of a sports energy bar
  • Bagel or Toast with Peanut Butter
  • Whole Wheat Waffles or Pancakes
  • Fig Cookies
  • Half-cup of dry cereal
  • Graham Cracker Squares With of Honey
  • A slice of toast with jam
  • Oatmeal

If you’re planning on running for more than 90 minutes, make sure to have gels, sports drinks, or other fuel to keep your energy levels up. Aim to consume about 100 calories after 60 minutes of running and then 100 every 30 to 45 minutes.

Planning on running longer than 90 minutes? Then have gels, sports drinks, or other fuel to keep your energy levels up. Shoot for about 100 calories after one hour of running and then 100 every 30 to 45 minutes.

After your run, replenish your stores as quickly as possible. Your muscles are most receptive to nutrients during the first 30 minutes after exercise. So, the sooner you eat, the better. Plus, eating soon after your workout may reduce your risk of muscle soreness and fatigue.

Here are some great post-run meal ideas:

  • Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast.
  • Salmon with sweet potato.
  • peanut or almond butter on whole-wheat bread
  • Oatmeal with fruit
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • Oats with milk and dried fruit
  • Veggie omelet with a slice of whole-grain bread
  • Pretzels with nuts and fruit
  • Yogurt with granola
  • A hard-boiled egg with fruit
  • Brown rice with chicken or salmon and veggies
  • Tuna salad sandwich on whole-grain bread.
  • Tuna and crackers.

Remember, food is your friend when it comes to running. So, fuel up before and after your runs to avoid feeling sleepy and keep your energy levels high.

Sleepy After Running Fix – 2.  Drink Your Water

Feeling sleepy after a run is common, but what if we told you that just drinking enough water could be the answer to all your problems?

That’s right, water is not just a simple drink; it’s the foundation of your entire body. Without it, your energy levels will plummet faster than a plane with no fuel. It’s no surprise that even mild dehydration can make you feel sluggish and tired after your run.

In a study by the Journal of Nutrition, a group of 25 subjects who were mildly dehydrated reported symptoms such as headache, loss of focus, low mood, and a sense of fatigue both at rest and during exercise.

But how much water do you need? Well, that depends on your sweat rate, climate, temperature, and weather conditions. As a runner, it’s recommended to drink at least 64 ounces of water every day. And if you’re running long distances in the heat or tend to sweat a lot, you need to drink even more.

It’s essential to start your runs properly hydrated by drinking a large glass of water 30 to 45 minutes before heading out. And for those long runs, make sure you have access to fluids throughout your course.

But wait, there’s more! You can also alternate water with a sports drink to help replace electrolytes or opt for an electrolyte supplement to keep a proper balance. So, if you’re feeling thirsty or even hungry, it’s a sign that you need more water.

Want to check your hydration levels? Look at your pee. You’re well-hydrated when your urine is pale yellow or almost clear in color.

Remember, water is the foundation of your body and your runs. So, if you want to avoid feeling sleepy after your run, make sure you’re drinking enough water. Your body will thank you for it!

Sleepy After Running Fix – 3. Sleep Enough

Another likely reason behind your sleepiness after running may have to do with your sleep routine—as in the length and quality of your slumber.

Sleep deprivation negatively affects your body’s internal metabolic process, and logging in fewer sleep hours than you should wreak havoc with your hormones and increase your appetite.

Keep depriving yourself of sleep, and you’ll be setting yourself up for weight issues and other health problems.

So how much is enough sleep?

Shoot for at least seven to eight high-quality hours of sleep a night. That’s the recommended amount for most adults, but feel free to sleep a little bit more on your hard training days.

Again, listen to your body and follow your own judgment.  Your body is your coach—as long as you’re willing to listen and follow its commands, you’ll be on the right way.

sleepy after running

Tired After Running Fix – 4.  Avoid Overtraining

It’s natural to feel a little tired after a hard run, but if you’re feeling perpetually sluggish, it might be time to reassess your training schedule. You might be guilty of committing the “too’s” – running too much, too fast, or too hard.

Think of it this way: if you push yourself too hard, you’re just like a car that’s constantly revving its engine, eventually leading to wear and tear. Overtraining can lead to a build-up of waste products in your muscles and tissues, which may lead to fatigue,  weakness, and soreness. It’s important to give your body ample time to rest and recover between workouts.

So how do you avoid overtraining? Firstly, make sure you’re taking at least one or two days of complete rest each week, and incorporate cross-training into your workout routine. Cycling, swimming, yoga, and strength training are great options for runners. Mix up your routine and give your muscles a chance to recover.

If you’re experiencing insomnia, mediocre athletic performance, persistent aches and pains, lack of appetite, elevated heart rate, lack of exercise motivation, sickness, or persistent soreness, it’s time to give your body the recovery it needs.

It’s also important to choose the right training pace for each session. Running too fast when you should be going slow can cause unnecessary fatigue. Keep track of your training goals and personal preferences, and incorporate a range of training paces and intensities throughout the week.

Tired After Running Fix – 5. Check Your Medication

Do you feel like you just ran a marathon after an easy run? Well, it might not be because you’re out of shape, it could be your medication! Yup, you heard that right. Heavy medication can have a big impact on your post-workout sleepiness.

Antidepressants like Zoloft and Prozac can cause excessive fatigue, making it a real struggle to even muster up the motivation to run. And let’s be real, we all need a little bit of motivation to get out there and pound the pavement.

Another type of medication that can cause drowsiness are antihistamines. These are often used to treat allergies, and names like Brompheniramine, diphenhydramine, and hydroxyzine might ring a bell. These drugs can make you feel like you’re carrying a backpack full of bricks.

For those of you taking anxiety medication like Klonopin, Xanax, Ativan, and Valium, you might experience weakness or drowsiness for a few hours to several days. It’s not ideal, especially when you’re trying to fit in a good workout.

What’s more?

Blood pressure medications like beta-blockers (Tenormin, Toprol XL, and Lopressor) can slow your heart rate, leaving you feeling tired during and after your workout. If you’re on these meds, try taking them three to four hours before your run, or better yet, talk to your doctor about finding an alternative that won’t put a damper on your exercise routine.

But keep in mind that medication can affect people differently, and what causes excessive fatigue in one person may not have the same effect on someone else.

That’s why if you’re feeling tired after running and you’re on medication, it’s key to talk to your doctor to rule out any serious side effects of your medication.

Tired After Running Fix – 6. You Have Got a Medical Condition

Some medical conditions, such as heart or thyroid diseases, can make you feel fatigued and sluggish after exercise. But it’s not just limited to those conditions. Blood sugar issues, like prediabetes and diabetes, can also cause fatigue, especially if your blood sugar levels drop after training.

Even certain infectious diseases, like Lyme disease, herpes virus, or Epstein-Barr virus, can cause fatigue as your body works hard to fight off the infection. Pay attention to any warning flags that might suggest something more serious is at play.

If your fatigue has persisted for several weeks and is accompanied by blurry vision, constipation, feeling cold all the time, weight gain, and dry skin, or depression, anxiety, or feelings of severe stress, it might be time to seek medical attention.

In general, consult your doctor for fatigue if it has lasted for many weeks, and it’s accompanied by these other symptoms:

  • Blurry vision: If you’re experiencing blurry vision along with fatigue, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or an autoimmune disorder.
  • A mix of constipation, feeling cold all the time, weight gain, and dry skin: These symptoms can be a sign of an underactive thyroid gland, also known as hypothyroidism.
  • Depression, anxiety, or feelings of severe stress: Mental health conditions can affect your energy levels and leave you feeling exhausted even after light run.
  • Insomnia, or frequent episodes of interrupted sleep: Poor sleep quality or insomnia can leave you feeling fatigued and sluggish during the day.
  • Frequent and severe headaches: Headaches can be a sign of a number of underlying health conditions, including migraines, high blood pressure, or even a brain tumor.
  • Recent and unwanted weight gain: Sudden and unexplained weight gain can be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or Cushing’s syndrome.
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain: Unexplained weight changes can be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as an overactive thyroid gland, diabetes, or cancer.
  • Inability to urinate: This could indicate a urinary tract infection, an enlarged prostate gland, or even bladder or kidney cancer.
  • Abnormal bleeding, including vomiting blood or bleeding from your rectum: Abnormal bleeding can be a sign of a serious underlying health condition, such as a bleeding ulcer or colon cancer.
  • Suicidal thoughts: If you’re experiencing feelings of hopelessness, despair, or suicidal thoughts, seek medical attention immediately.

Feeling Sleepy After Running – When To Nap 

One quick and natural option to deal with post-run tiredness  is to take a nap, of course! But before you do, let’s make sure you’re doing it right.

Here’s how:

  • Post-Run ritual. Drink plenty of water and stretch your muscles first, then shower—all before you take a nap.
  • Nap At The Right Time. Avoid napping later in the day. Instead, time it at around 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.—which works great if you usually run in the morning or around noon.
  • Cap The nap. Limit your naps to 20-30 minutes. Doze off for longer, and you might fall into a deep sleep, then wake up with sleep inertia. In fact, the longer the nap, the more you risk feeling groggy afterward.
  • Set The Alarm. Now you have the perfect nap time; it’s time to make the most out of it. Start by setting the alarm to help nail those 20 minutes.
  • The Right Environment. For the perfect 20-minute nap, you want a quiet, dark place with a comfortable room temperature to lay down. If possible, feel free to use earplugs, eye masks, or white noise to help tune out distractions.

Reasons You Feel Sleepy and Tired After Running – Conclusion

now that you know the reasons why you feel like a sleepy sloth after running, you can finally take control of your post-workout slump and kick it to the curb!

So next time you hit the pavement or the treadmill, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to conquer your exhaustion.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below – I’m here to help you succeed.

Thanks for tuning in, and remember to keep pushing yourself towards greatness!

David D.

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