Is Fatigue Slowing You Down?
While all runners know that sometimes you have to wake up early or stay up late to squeeze in that extra session, it’s also the truth that you can’t get faster if you don’t rest. The reasons for this are bound up in the intricate functioning of the human endocrine system, but they can be boiled down to the effects of two powerful hormones: HGH (or human growth hormone) and cortisol. HGH is released during sleep, and is vital for muscle recovery and repair, fat metabolism, and the ability of your body to use energy as you run. Cortisol, on the other hand, is a “stress hormone” that can delay healing and cause weight gain.
Getting The Sleep You Need
Is lack of sleep keeping you from hitting better times as a runner? Doctors recommend that the average adult sleep between 7-9 hours a night. If you’re training hard, you should aim for the upper end of that. Recommendations are all well and good, of course, but we understand that lots of things about modern life can make getting to bed more complicated. Here’s our tips for a great night’s rest:
Make sure you’ve got a good mattress. Don’t underestimate the ill effect that a bad mattress can have on your musculoskeletal health. If you regularly wake up stiff and sore, or if your mattress is more than 10 years old, consider getting a new one. A quality mattress can ensure that you sleep more soundly, and that your muscles and joints are in alignment while they do.
Go to bed and get up at the same time, even on the weekends. This helps stabilize your body’s hormones, and trains your body to expect to sleep.
Sleep in a cool, dark room. Avoid screens and bright lights for the last couple of hours before you go to bed. If you can’t put down your devices, consider using a blue light filter.
Athleticism takes discipline, but it also takes smarts. If you’ve been training your heart out but you still can’t make the times you want at your races, consider the other half of your training schedule: your sleep. Take it from us–you will never regret prioritizing rest. And good luck at that 5k!
Sleep Your Way To A PR – www.runnersworld.com
How Much Sleep Do Runners Need? – www.active.com