12 miler gone bad… (The Importance of Sleep!)

So much for having one last strong long run before my race. Here’s how my “12 miler” went:

sleep important for runners CasiRuns

Matt was supposed to pick me up at the end of my run, but I had to call him to pick me up half way through.*sad face* Each mile was almost a full minute slower than the one before.  I remember thinking at mile 0.5, “wow, I shouldn’t be breathing this hard half a mile in!” but I pushed those thoughts away because I knew I had 11 more miles to run. I deliberately ran the first mile very easy, and I kept the pace around 11 minutes for miles 2 and 3, so I definitely didn’t go out too fast, and I tried to push through the pain but unfortunately things never got easier. I felt woozy after about 5 minutes of running and I had to keep taking walk breaks to shake off impending blackouts!

Sometimes bad runs just happen, and you can’t get too upset about them. You just have to learn from your mistakes and adjust your plan for next time. This time I’m pretty sure the mistake was lack of sleep! We were out laaaaate Friday night for my bestie’s birthday dinner, up early Saturday morning, and then up late again Saturday night watching our show. I always underestimate the importance of sleep. It’s boring, it seems like a waste of time, and my back starts hurting if I lay in bed for too long. I hate sleeping in too late on a Saturday morning because it feels like half the day is wasted! (Who cares if I was just going to move to the couch and watch Netflix, that’s not the point.) But yesterday’s run had perfect conditions: low humidity, cool breeze, sunny but not scorching, slow and easy beginning miles, so the only culprit I can blame for my crappy run is Sir Sleep.

sleep important for runners CasiRuns

While you are asleep, your body releases a hormone called human growth hormone (GH). In kids it’s responsible for growing little bodies to full-size, but in adults it is responsible for repairing bones and muscles, and regulating sugar and fat metabolism. This study recorded that the highest concentration of growth hormone is present in the blood during the first few hours of deep sleep, and at high concentrations again during every deep sleep cycle. When I’m not running, I can survive happily on 6 hours of sleep, but I’ve been putting my body through a lot the past few months. It’s logical to think that as I’m packing on the miles I should be more intentional about getting enough sleep.

Maybe it will help to start looking at sleep as a vital part of my training, equally important as strength training and stretching. Thank you to my mom for her genes and her prayers because I have never struggled with poor quality sleep. Just quantity! I’ll probably have to start scheduling it in to my calendar like I do with everything else…I already have an alarm on my phone telling me it’s time for bed every night. Such a nerd.

sleep important for runners CasiRuns

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