Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Non-Guest Post, Not Running and Sleep

Because we're not cool/lame (depending on your perspective) enough to have guest blog posts, I (Penny) am doing our own guest post.

Hi! Im Penny and I blog over at Two Little Runners! Its so awesome to have blog friends, right???? Omg how much do YOU love froyo??? Anyway, neither of us have much running stuff to discuss right now. Kristen is a little off her game right now (WE'RE NOT SAYING THE I-WORD) and I am taking a much-needed holiday in the Florida Keys with my delightful hubbo. Who is, incidentally, sitting next to me, completely passed out after a minorly taxing day of water sports and sun bathing on a boat in Key West. Tough life. But! It does lead into the actual content of this post which I wrote last week.... Sleep!

Post-marathon, I have had the best sleep of my life. Seriously, I'd probably run another one, just to accumulate some more of this delicious shut-eye.

I am not, traditionally, a good sleeper. I take ages to fall asleep. I sleep lightly. I have a bladder the size of a pin-head, which means I sometimes have to get up to use the loo in the middle of the night. I also wake up easily, and very rarely "sleep in". Eight hours of sleep is a really, really good night of sleep for me. More frequently, I am at the 6-7 hour mark.

However, sleep is so crucial for running and recovery. Its not that I naturally need less of it! On days I don't get much sleep, I am definitely dragging ass through my runs and finding it difficult to concentrate at work. I read about all these elites (some running not much more than me, and also not holding down a full-time job) taking naps during the day and getting in a good 9 hours in the Land of Nod. Bastards!

Going forward, I'm trying to be a leeeeedle more pro-active in getting the sleep I need and that makes me feel so alive and energetic. Here's what I'm doing:
  1. Reducing caffeine intake. I cut down my 2-3 cups of coffee to one, especially on days I don't run or the weekends (when concentration levels don't have to be quite as high). I have embraced (shock! horror! who is this girl?!) the decaffeinated coffee at work. I also noticed that when I eat something at night containing cacao, (dark chocolate, cocoa in pudding or hot chocolate etc) the effects of the caffeine work just like coffee. Cutting them out and eating non-choc desserts helps a lot.
  2. Reducing (slightly) the amount I eat at night. Frequently I would eat a ton of calories in the evening while watching TV. Only then to wake up through the night with a really full churning tummy. I have no intention of stopping eating after 8pm or whatever, but slightly reducing the amount (and front loading those calories earlier in the day) has really helped.
  3. Developing a night-time routine. Kristen is awesome at doing all her yoga and rolling in the evening as part of her wind-down. Most nights I do stretch and roll, but I'd like to make this a more regular part of my winding down, to prepare my mind and body for rest. 
  4. TV, computer etc. I have no intention (and if I did, it would never happen) of reducing computer/tv usage in the evening to wind down. I'm sure it would help, I just enjoy that part of my evening too much. Plus, its the only time I really get to do that stuff.
  5. Chemicals. I was a big user of melatonin and other natural sleep aids. However these are now a last-resort, as I find them much less effective than, say, just reducing my daily caffeine intake.
  6. Stress. This is a big one. How do I reduce stress? I have noticed I stay awake from stress relating to two major things: (a) work and (b) running. 
Wait, running? Yes, big runs - like tempos - have kept me awake at night. Ironically, its not the actual run that has me stressed out, but the fact that I can't sleep and so won't be able to be awake and sufficiently rested to do the run, that keeps me awake and insufficiently rested!

Work, is also a big stressor. It is rarely the amount that I have to do, but singular tasks that have a high level of importance, and when my boss/es are relying on my best performance.  I don't want to let them or myself down. But like running, the more I stress about work the following day, the less I sleep, and the more I stress that I'm not getting enough sleep to perform to the best of my abilities.

I have not yet thought of any miraculous ways to reduce stress, when it inevitably intervenes in my otherwise blissful, peace-ridden and harmoniously-balanced life. HA. Other than, of course, to engage in the strategies outlined above.

So anyone out there got ideas about reducing stress for better sleep? Or any other routines or practices that you do to maximize your sleep time?


  1. I'm right there with you on almost all counts!! Like tonight will probably be a really poor night of sleep because I have a super long run planned for tomorrow morning!!
    And, I love your honesty in the changes (or not) that you are going to make because I'm the same way - TV and computer (plus snacks) are part of most every evening.
    Sorry - no help except to let you know that I'm usually awake, too!

    1. Haha, at least I know I'm not alone! I feel like Im ok with the longer runs if its on the weekends... its the stress of getting up early and getting a run done in time for work (and then staying awake all day!) that kills me!

  2. Mercifully, I'm a pretty good sleeper, most of the time. But when I have trouble, I play a really silly game (I can't believe I'm admitting this on the internet)...whereby I put each of my body parts to sleep, starting with my feet. I give each part a few seconds to be still, and quiet, and...asleep? Then, I move up to the next part. This game is boring enough (?) that I seldom make it to my waist.

    [Oh, the things the blogosphere entices me to confess. Because I swear, I am a generally normal person.]

    1. Oh I know, its crazy what I would say on here, versus a conversation with a person in real life... and yet its here for all the internets to see? This is a strange medium indeed.

      Anyway, I am TOTALLY going to play that game myself and see if it works! Way better than counting random animals etc.

    2. Don't forget to subdivide. Don't just "put your foot to sleep", but put each TOE to sleep. Put your ANKLE to sleep. Put your shin, calf, knee, quad, hamsting...a little physiology going a loooong way! ;-) Good luck.

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