Sleep Running

8:35 AM, May 29, 2013   |    comments
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I haven't watched a Miss America contest in years.  My hair is too short, and my butt is too big, but I always felt I could nail the question portion. I know, I know. Given the performance in recent years, it's really not saying much. But there's still another obstacle between me and that tiara: I have no talent.

Well, I do have this one talent.

I can fall asleep at any time, any place, any situation. I can sleep for 5 minutes or 2 hours. For people who say "I can't nap", I say you never HAD to nap. Living in noisy apartments and working the 3AM shift for a decade has developed this particular talent.  I'm not sure Donald Trump would endorse my  talent. Sleeping on stage isn't exactly a ratings-hit, but it's a talent that's made training possible on my sleep-deprived lifestyle.

Sleep is an aspect of training we often forget. When we need to log more miles, we get up earlier and stay up later. It's a formula for disaster.

Research shows it's the 3rd and 4th stages of the typical sleep cycle when your body heals itself. That's when the pituitary gland releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH). It's the major "rebuilder" of muscle. During sleep deprivation, besides missing that dose of HGH, you're also hit with an extra dose of Cortisol (often called the "stress hormone"). It interferes with the repair and growth of soft tissue. It also weakens your immune system.

Runners are supposed to get 7-9 hours of sleep.   I recently read an article that suggested ultra runners get 9-10. I spent the last few days on social media asking runners about their sleeping habits. As someone that lives constantly sleep deprived, I was surprised how many runners said they really DO get 8 hours a night. There was a consensus that running also made them sleep better, and over-training was often linked with exhaustion.

I don't have any perfect formula for training and sleeping in the midst of the chaos that is life. I can only pass on what I've learned: training requires sacrifices. The biggest one is time.

How do you manage your training schedule and your sleeping schedule? Any good tips?

11Alive's Julie Wolfe and Doug Richards will be running the Peachtree with the RunnerCam again this year. Look for them on the course! You can Follow her running adventures on Twitter: @JulieWolfe and on her blog: AtlantaRunningReporter.blogspot

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