Add Sleep to Your Training

August 24, 2010

By Alix Shutello

Deena Kastor, who is the American record holder for the half marathon (1:07:34) and marathon (2:19:36) and who won a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympic Marathon, reports that she sleeps about 12 hours a day between her nap every afternoon and the sleep she gets at night. There is no question that sleep is good for us on many fronts but we keep reading that we don’t get enough of it.

Alix Shutello starts the Vidha Dream Mile 5K

Where we see the affects of sleep loss is in our children.  Kids that are moody, aggressive, weepy, or any other list of adjectives are often times that way because of a lack of sleep. You think adults are any different? Well, we are not.

Last night, I fell asleep at 10 PM but had been trying to sleep since 9. I slept through until 7:30 this morning. I obviously needed the sleep, and the stiffness and soreness I felt after my 4 mile run yesterday morning is now gone. I feel refreshed and ready to train again. Perhaps, if I had been getting enough sleep to start with, yesterday’s training run would have been more invigorating. I know I just honked out the miles and ran them slow and steady; but then again I had run a hard 6 miles on Saturday, logging some 8:20 – 8:34 per minute miles.

As a working mother, it is certainly tough to go to work all day, go home and be mom, and then go to bed. Sure some nights it’s a breeze but other nights it’s not and through time, those lost hours add up. Those lost hours affect my training because I have less energy and motivation or I feel mentally challenged by the workout instead of in charge the upcoming run. In a 2009 article I found on, athletes are definitely impacted by how much sleep they get. The more the better.

Besides, didn’t you hear that we grow in our sleep? (or that’s what we tell our kids), well, we definitely heal in our sleep. You want to prevent soreness, increase your mental awareness, and be better fit? Then get some sleep. No one operates well on no sleep.  As athletes, you must get your prescribed hours in. For me, that’s somewhere between 8-9 hours a night and while I find it difficult to get that amount night after night, I feel it when I don’t.  Besides, if we all slept enough, we’d all be nicer people – that, my friends, is a definite.

So incorporate sleep into your training. Schedule it if you have to and keep a log of it. Trust me, through time, you’ll find your runs and races will improve.

Read about sleep in athletes at Running Times.

Read a nice interview with Deena Kastor.

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