I love sleep! Whether it’s sleeping late into the morning (If my three kids let me sleep in until 7:00a it’s a miracle) or taking a nap in the afternoon, nothing can beat the well-rested feeling when you wake up. Fur runners, sleep is even more important. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep (Sounds great doesn’t it!), as an endurance athlete it’s important that you are not depriving yourself of sleep.
Sleep deprivation can cause your body to not fully recover between workouts and runs. As you sleep, your body repairs and regenerates the muscle tissues that you damaged during your run or workout that day, it also builds bone and muscle to prepare you for future workouts. That recovery can be slowed down even more when you don’t get adequate sleep, the body is not able to naturally release human growth hormone into your system. This natural hormone aids in the recovery process and building stronger muscles. When the body fails to get the adequate recovery, you increase your injury risk and open yourself up to future runs and workouts falling below expectations.
7-9 hours of sleep (and as a distance runner you could probably use a little more than the average person) can be difficult to get for an average person, let alone someone training for a 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, or ultra marathon. So how can you try to get enough sleep?
1.Give yourself a bedtime
We give our children bed times, so why not give ourselves a bedtime. If you know you have to be awake early the next morning, make sure you are getting to bed earlier.
2. Don’t take any distractions (i.e. cell phone, tablet, etc…) to bed with you
I’m guilty of this one. I take my cell phone to bed with, tell myself “I’ll only check Facebook” and then somehow it’s 90 minutes later and I’m on my 50th YouTube video of the night. If it will distract you from getting to bed once you are in bed, then leave it somewhere else.
3. Take a nap
Naps are the best. My mom is the napping queen of the world, so I’ve learned the importance of a nap (Especially Sunday afternoon naps after church while football is on TV) from the best. Even a quick 20 minute rest can help so much.
Grant Watley is a veteran high school and collegiate running coach and co-owner of the 605 Running Company. He received his Masters of Sport Science in Sports Coaching from the United States Sports Academy in 2011 and graduated in 2009 from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a degree in Health and Fitness Studies and a minor in coaching. His contributions to the 605 Running Company Blog will appear periodically focusing on training and nutrition.