Sleep like a Runner

As runners, we spend time on training plans – focusing on building mileage and improving paces. There’s an effort to cross training and do strength work. Some runners embrace their rest days while others begrudgingly recognize their legs need a break. We focus on our nutrition, fueling, and hydration. But there’s one critical aspect that many of us may not be giving enough attention to…sleep!

Lack of proper sleep can really impact your ability to focus, think clearly and your mood — and if you’re an athlete this lack of sleep can have a huge impact on performance and recovery.

During sleep, growth hormones stimulate muscle growth and repair, bone building, metabolism, and help athletes recover. Sleep deprivation slows the release of that hormone, and when growth hormone levels are down, cortisol (stress hormone) levels are on the rise. Too much cortisol in your system can also disrupt your body’s ability to recover properly. Lack of sleep can also impact glycogen storage – clearly a big deal for endurance running.

So I’m teaming up with Casper to provide some tips to help you Sleep like a Runner!

Sleep like a Runner

This last point is a big one for me! Using technology before bed has been linked to an increase in stress. I know personally, it can be hard to turn off my phone or step away from my laptop. If you find yourself tethered to your electronic device, try to power down a little bit earlier each night until you can get to at least 1 hour before bed technology-free.

Sleep is a critical factor to a runner's performance! #SleepLikeARunner Click To Tweet

Disclosure: Thanks to Casper for this graphic. I was not compensated in any way for this post. All opinions expressed here, as always, are my own.

Did you know that this is National Sleep Awareness Week?

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Thursday Thoughts – Recovery Madness

I hit 5 weeks post-op on Tuesday…and I have to admit I’m starting to lose it a little. Recovery madness has fully taken hold…

Yoga, walking and whatever else I can find to keep myself active are all fine and good…but I miss running. I’ve been devouring other people’s race recaps like an addict looking for a fix.

I’m missing my greatest stress reliever…

My Alone Time

Patience has never been my strong suit and I have been constantly reminding myself that I cannot just dive back into running and expect it all to be glorious…it’s going to take time.

And, let’s be honest I haven’t run in so long I’m not sure my body will even remember what to do on that first trot back.

running-memeMy inbox is flooded with “early bird” registration offers and it’s taking every bit of strength I have not to exceed my credit card limit and sign up for everything!

Hopefully just a few more days….

I’m linking up with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud. Thinking-Out-Loud2

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Benefits of Yamuna Body Rolling

As I’ve been working on getting and keeping my legs happy I have been very diligent about two things – my strengthening exercises and Yamuna Body Rolling. I did a post about Yamuna back when my mom was probably my only reader (Thanks Mom!) – so I thought I’d re-visit some of the reasons why Yamuna Body Rolling is my go-to choice these days for working out the kinks.

bodyrolling

Yamuna Body Rolling (YBR) utilizes several different-sized balls for different parts of your body. The idea is that the compression of these balls into bones, tendons, muscles, and fascia releases restrictions.  So how does it differ from foam rolling? Each ball is designed with a specific density and size and meant to be used for specific areas. As such, Yamuna balls can be used on more areas of the body, offering more flexibility and, therefore, more advantages than foam rollers.

YBR essentially uses the muscles as a roadmap to the body. YBR routines follow specific sequences that match the body’s own logic and order. Starting where each muscle begins, at its origin, you roll toward where it attaches to the point called its insertion. According to the YBR website, by following specific muscles from their beginning to end, you can maximize their length and restore space in your body. This direct approach affects your stuck, adhered tissue, helping to improve its health, balance and circulation while restoring length in a way that stretching alone just can’t.

I was first introduced to YBR by a Pilates teacher (who also happens to be a kick-ass marathoner), and I took classes to learn the various rolling routines. If you want to try YBR I’d highly recommend either learning from a trained Yamuna practitioner or getting one of the DVDs usually sold with the balls so you can learn the best ways to use the balls.

Have you ever tried YBR? What’s your go to method for working out the kinks?

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Sleep is a Recovery Tool

Snoopy Cartoon

Like rest days, sleep is often an overlooked, but critical component of your training cycle.

While you sleep, your body does some much needed repair work. Did you know that it’s during sleep that the human growth hormone (yep the infamous HGH) is released to help aid muscle repair? Without enough HGH in your system, your recovery is slowed. Did you also know, that when HGH levels are down due to lack of sleep, that cortisol levels are on the rise? Too much cortisol in your system can also disrupt your body’s ability to recover properly.

There’s also the emotional impact of cutting your ZZZs short. Lack of proper sleep can really impact your ability to focus, think clearly and your mood — clearly not a good thing for anything you’ve got going on in your life including your running. I know personally that when I get overtired I become too dependent on my beloved coffee and some times don’t make the best food choices throughout the day. Being overtired also starts to drag on my motivation — hard to get up for that speed workout when your body’s craving sleep!

So how much sleep is enough?

While I’ve read time and again that “experts” recommend anywhere from 7 to 9 hours – most will also say, as with so many other things,  that it depends on the person. For me, I’ve found that I’m at my best with 7 hours – that’s when I can wake up sans alarm clock and don’t feel the need to cling to my pillow. I think the lack-of-alarm-clock test is a good one to help you find your “ideal” amount of sleep.

After going into sleep-deprivation last month during the Olympics, I’ve been trying to reel in my late night ways. A couple of things I’ve found that help:

  • Stepping away from my laptop at a reasonable hour
  • No caffeine after 3 in the afternoon
  • No late night snacking
  • Stretching and rolling to help wind down
  • Consistent bed time

How do you make sure your getting enough sleep?

 

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Not another rest day!

I have not run since last Tuesday and I’m starting to get cranky!too much rest

By Friday morning I’d come to the decision that with just 6 weeks until my December half, I didn’t want to risk further injury running the local 5K. I had to admit to myself that my foot was still sore and rest was the best bet. A conversation with Coach Bennett and a review of the upcoming training plan confirmed that this was the right call.

But I can’t take it any more – I’ve run a grand total of 9.55 miles since the B.A.A. Half. At first I really welcomed the days off, but that only lasted a couple of days… then I started to get edgy. My hat is off to those of you who have sat on injured reserve for much longer! I’m grateful to be able to head back out this morning.

What’s the longest you’ve gone without running because of an injury?

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Nutrition Update: #DesignerWhey Product Review

Recently this showed up on my doorstep

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The folks at Designer Whey sent me a crazy array of their products to try! I was expecting to receive just one of their protein powders – instead they sent protein bars, ready-made shakes and Protein 2Go drink mix, in addition to two protein powders.

I’ve mentioned here before that one of my goals for 2013 is to get a better handle on my nutrition. And now that I’m finally feeling like I’ve got a handle on my fueling during a run, I’ve started to turn my attention to what I’m eating during recovery.  So getting to try out these products came at a great time for me.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had a chance to try everything — and the verdict….love them!

Designer shake

I  immediately started with the protein powders – 18g of protein, only 100 calories and naturally sweetened with Stevia. I received both French Vanilla and White Chocolate – they both had good flavor, but the White Chocolate became an instant fave! I was initially concerned it might be too sweet, but it had a yummy creaminess that worked well with my usual smoothie add-ins (unsweetened almond milk, chia seeds, almond butter and frozen strawberries, bananas and cherries)  without being overpowering. It has quickly become a favorite post-workout recovery drink.

My husband J got in on the act sampling the protein bars. We had three flavors to try: Peanut Butter Crunch, Triple Chocolate Crunch and Chocolate Caramel Crunch. Quite simply these bars are so good! They’re 160 – 170  calories with 10g of protein and other vitamins. Designer Whey packs a lot into these bars including a lot of flavor!

 My favorite was the peanutDesigner 2 butter, while J really liked the triple chocolate – he said it tasted “like a real chocolate bar not at all waxy.”

 The last item I received was the Protein 2Go. Designer Whey sent all three of their flavors: Lemonade, Mixed Berry and Tropical Orange. You just pour one of the packets into about 12 – 16 oz of water and shake. I thought these mixes offered a nice refreshing drink with the added benefit of 10g of protein plus B-Vitamins and Vitamin C. I really like these have no artificial sweeteners or flavors, and the packets are easy to carry with you anywhere. I think these will be particularly good in the summer months served ice cold!

A big thanks to the folks at Designer Whey – I’m happy to have discovered their products as they’ll now be a part of my recovery nutrition strategy.

What’s your go to recovery foods/drinks?

I received these products as a FitFluential Ambassador. All of the opinions expressed here, as always, are my own.

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