This article was published on March 24th, 2014
It’s not uncommon for a marathon runner to be extremely tired the afternoon of a long training run or race. In fact, it’s quite normal. Long distance running expends so much energy that the body needs time to rest and recover.
Sleeping is like a miracle recovery potion for marathon runners. While sleeping, muscles relax, increasing blood floor to the damages tissues, allowing them to repair faster and grow stronger. Energy is also restored and growth hormones are released throughout the body. For marathoners, paying close attention to sleep is just as important as nutrition.
Marathon runners, just like most people, lead very busy lives. They have to balance work, relationships, training and other priorities. Sleep needs to become a key priority, especially during peak training and the days leading up to races. Sleep patterns vary with every person, and some marathon runners require more sleep than others.
It’s important to find time for additional sleep during peak training and in the days leading up to races to improve athletic performance and to speed up recovery time. Just as a marathon runners ‘carb-load’ in the day or days leading up to a long run or a race, marathoners need to ‘sleep-load’ to be at peak performance.
Most marathon runners don’t typically get much sleep the night before a race because of the hype and excitement, and constant worry about sleeping in and missing the race. This is why paying attention to rest during the taper period and ‘sleep-loading’ is vital, starting four to five days in advance of a race.
Lack of sleep and over training compromises the immune system. It’s not unusual for marathon runners to catch a cold or get the sniffles at the peak of training. This is because the body is incredibly worn down and is spending all its energy on fueling the body. Rest, including sleep, will help the body recover the quickest.
Here are some quick tips for marathon runners to get a better nights sleep:
- Go to bed a little bit earlier than normal at night.
- Turn off the TV and computer 30 minutes before bed and enjoy some quiet time.
- Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine.
- Eat a well balanced diet.
- Avoid over training.
- 20 minutes naps are great, just take them before 3pm, otherwise they can impact your sleep cycle.
Generally, marathoners should listen to their body. It’ll say loud and clear when it’s time to get some extra sleep!