Sleep is King!
I remember thinking this exact thing when I had my daughter, sleep whenever you can! And although marathon training isn’t quite the same as having a newborn, I’ve been reminded of this same statement just this past week.
I am creeping up in the kilometres each week and I am starting to feel the intensity of this increased mileage - excitedly of course! This is why I run marathons. Physically and mentally I feel great but naturally fatigued at times. And it’s to be expected of course, this is what I have signed up for. But it has reminded me that as much as I need to make my training a priority, sleep is just as high up on my priority list.
Why is sleep so important? When you train hard, you need sleep. The harder you train, the more sleep you need. When we sleep, our body releases growth hormones. This is what stimulates muscle growth and repair, as well as bone building and fat burning. It enables you to run again another day and helps with performance (marathontrainingacademy, 2014). Not getting enough sleep could affect your ability to recover and could affect your appetite as well. Tiredness causes hunger and I know this all too well when I am tired, all I want to do is eat!
There is no clear test on how much sleep we should be having, generally most studies suggest is seven to nine hours sleep a night for adults but it's all relative to the individual. One thing is for sure that as your running increases you will more than likely need more sleep.
Below are some of my tips for getting sleep and being well rested during marathon training:
- Have a sleep schedule - it is proven that going to bed and waking up at the same time each day and night helps your body prepare for sleep and helps you get to sleep. Much like a baby, having a routine goes a long way.
- Meditate - if you have trouble sleeping and can’t quite switch off, meditation is a great tool. With simple breathing exercises you can help your mind and body relax and settle into a restful nights sleep. I find meditation also assists in an opportunity to recover better outside of sleep.
- Take a nana nap - nothing wrong with a nap during the day and if the opportunity arises I will always make sure I get some daytime Z’s. I find this is such a great way to rest my body after a long run and even if it’s only 30 mins I feel so much better as a result of it.
- Make sleep a priority - this may involve sacrificing nights out but if that’s what it takes to achieve your goal then you will need to do it. You will feel much better for it and just think about the nights out you will have after you’ve achieved your goal.
- Ditch the phone - technology is our worst nightmare before bed. The blue light from our devices can affect our sleep so best to avoid looking at them right before bed time.
The quality and quantity of sleep you get is just as a important as the physical training you are doing. Be kind to yourself and give your body the opportunity to rest and recover with a good nights sleep. And most importantly, listen to your body - if it is telling you to go to bed then just do it.
Week 11 - a mixed bag of running and feelings. I was so fatigued Tuesday, both physically and mentally that I missed my interval session. I thought pushing myself to do this may result in injury. So I crossed it off as a missed session and just got on with the rest of my training. The latter part of the week was great, my usual longer negative run split on Thursday showed me that I am growing stronger. The pace of 5:00 per km/h is getting easier to stick to and being able to consistently run at that pace is increasing my confidence. It was a great 24km on the Saturday which included running the very first Parkrun at Brimbank Park in Melbourne. Some nice surprising hills to keep it challenging and finish off my run. Momentum and excitement is building. This week brings my first goal of running the Sandy Point Half Marathon - bring it on!