Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NVM WEEK 2: bones all still on the inside....for now....

This week has been a combination of not getting to sleep when I wanted, not sleeping well, and feeling exhausted even when I have slept well. I did not get up early for the gym even once, went to work late once, took half a sick day on another day, & just worked from home altogether on a third. I'd hoped that all of that would help me catch up on sleep some & that I would be feeling better by the end of the week, but no.

In general my strategy for fitting everything in is getting up at 6am three times a week, getting to the gym by 6:45, (ideally) getting to work between 8 & 8:30, then running first thing when I get home. To make this work, I've learned by trial and error that I really need to get in bed by 10:00 and sleep well. If I'm up too much later than that, don't sleep well, or wake up at 3am & can't get back to sleep (which, sadly, is sometimes a thing), it's just not going to happen.

I used to try to push through sleep deprivation & do my 6:45 strength work anyway & then work a full day, but the result was almost always 1) pulling off the highway to sleep because I'm nodding off at the wheel, 2) falling asleep in the locker room, 3) falling asleep at work, or 4) getting next to nothing done at work & crashing as soon as I get home. No more. These days, if I don't sleep enough or well, then I either skip the gym & do it another day or work from home, depending on how severe things are.

(If you want my opinion--which I can only assume you do; I mean you're reading this voluntarily, after all--skimping on sleep in order to find extra time is about as smart as skipping meals in order to drop weight or ignoring your bills in order to save money. Which is to say, it's stupid and ultimately ineffective. Sooner or later, the Sandman will hunt your ass down and extract his pound of flesh, with interest.)

In the last year or so I've really been trying to take sleep more seriously, partly on the advice of Coach Tom. Something I learned from him was that while rest days are important for bone and muscle recovery, sleep plays an even more important role since that's when your body pumps out massive amounts of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is important for all kinds of bodily healing, but it is particularly important for bone healing and regeneration. Apparently the one thing that just about all elite runners (and athletes in many other sports as well) have in common is sleeping 9-10 hours a day, with many even making a point of getting a nap in between a.m. & p.m. workouts, partly for this reason.

So yeah, ideally I'd sleep well & then get up & go do my 6am strength workout 3x weekly without fail, but if I have to choose between the two, these days I choose sleep, every time, no question. (After eight years of teaching school, I'm also incredibly thankful to now have a job where I can work from home from part or all of the day from time to time. Given that going to the office means 1.5-2 hours of commuting, being able to trade that time for extra sleep occasionally is a big help.)

I had three runs towards the end of this week (Thursday, Friday, & Sunday) which were not great, & a bunch of little niggles that haven't bothered me in a while started popping up. At first this was just mysterious & upsetting, but then Sunday night while I was fretting about all this, two things hit me:

    1) I remembered the whole sleep-healing-HGH thing. Not enough sleep => stuff not healing all the way / as quickly => niggles, in addition to generally feeling like ass.

    2) Although my mileage lately has been hanging out in the mid 30s which is not really all that much for me, I kind of started to wonder how the amount of time I've spent running lately compares to this summer when I was marathon training at much faster paces.


Thanks, RunningAhead!

So yeah. In terms of number of hours spent pounding the pavement each week, apparently I've been sneaking up into that mid-to-peak marathon training range, just because I've been running so much more slowly. Don't get me wrong, in general I definitely have felt MUCH better than during peak marathon training & haven't had any actual injury scares (fingers crossed), but it wouldn't surprise me if feeling tired & a bit niggly here & there was related not only to miles per week but to hours per week as well.

~*~*~NVM WEEK 2 OF 16~*~*~

Grand Total: 33 miles

    * 29 easy
    * 4 goal marathon pace
    * a few bits & scraps of strength work here & there? :/

Monday: a.m. strength work / p.m. karate

    I have been trying to do my strength work on Monday, Wednesday, & Friday mornings, but I think I may be reaching that point with long runs where my body needs the extra sleep the morning after. Or this may be just another manifestation of my lack of good sleep in general.

Tuesday: 2 wu, 2 @ GMP, 1 easy, 2 @ GMP, 2 cd = 9 total

    A little bit tougher than my first GMP run last week, which I'm guessing has to do with doing a long run only 48 hours prior, whereas last week I'd had two days of rest plus a day of short, easy running between the long run & GMP run. Also I was feeling so enthusiastic about the 1400 v2's that I wore them for this run, which I think was a bit too much, too soon for my feet.

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / p.m. karate Rest

    Didn't sleep well & woke up feeling not so great & decided again that nope, I still needed sleep more than I needed strength work. Then it poured Wednesday night which wreaked havoc on Bay Area traffic, & when Google Maps said it would likely take us 1.5 hours to drive the 15 miles to Berkeley, we decided to cancel class for the night. But hey, I used that time to clean almost our whole house, so at least I was productive!

Thursday: 8 easy

    My legs felt kind of whiny & unstable on this run (again, in retrospect, I am blaming lack of sleep) which was exacerbated by the rain, darkness, & the horrible fear I have of slipping & falling on wet pavement & suffering some kind of grievous injury. On the other hand, it ended up being my second best speed-to-heart-rate ratio run thus far, so yay?

Friday: 6 easy

    Similar to the day before, I never felt great on this run while it was happening, and later that evening I started having some rather concerning achey pain in the spot on my left leg where I had the stress fracture earlier this year. If you've ever had a stress fracture or similar injury that put you out for multiple months, you know how paranoid and panicky you can get about those things, even if it's been totally fine for a long time. I made it through my entire Santa Rosa training cycle this past summer without a peep from that bone (running a LOT more towards the end than I am now), so I didn't really get why pain in that area would pop up suddenly like that now. But again, in retrospect, I am at least in part blaming lack of good sleep.

Saturday: trails in the rain Rest

    I'd planned to join Jen & a few other folks on a trail run in Marin on Saturday morning, but around 3am the same pain in the same spot as I'd had the day before woke me up out of a dead sleep & didn't go away for hours. (Once I definitely had the stress fracture last Christmas, being kept up at night by the pain was one of the worst parts, so this definitely had all my panic neurons firing.) It bummed me out a lot to do it but I ended up bailing on the trail run in order to sleep more & pump out a bunch of that sweet, sweet HGH & hopefully give whatever was going on in my leg a chance to heal. I can hop and walk and run with no pain on impact & can knock the bone pretty hard & roll it on a Lacrosse ball with no pain, so I know the stress fracture is not back (we can talk about the completely and totally unmistakable pain involved in stress fractures sometime if you want), but it is still right in the same spot, so that's causing me to pay more attention to it when I run & see if I can pinpoint anything I'm doing that might be aggravating it.

Sunday: 14 long 10 easy

    By Sunday morning, the pain was pretty much completely gone, so I figured I'd try a few easy miles & see if it seemed like systems were all go for my scheduled 14 miler. Alas, I was (again) exhausted Saturday night & slept in Sunday morning & then lost track of time while we were running afternoon errands, & by the time I started my run I only had enough time for ten before I needed to be home to get ready for dinner with friends. Which was okay, actually, because for whatever reason my feet were KILLING me after about seven, and I was also having some bizarro bone pain in the top of my right shin, which is not a thing that's ever happened before (SLEEP!!! {shakes fist at sky}).

So, yeah. I hadn't planned for this to be a cut-back/recovery week, mainly because I feel like I'm not actually doing much of anything all that intense enough to need to cut-back/recover from. But to quote what Kelly was saying a couple weeks back, "when your body is done it’s done. You can’t make it not be done. You can’t tell it that that really wasn’t too much training or that other people would be fine on that schedule. If you’re done, then that’s that."

So it's probably for the best that this is a holiday week. I'll have several days to catch up on sleep, & it will be okay if all the traveling & conditions in Spokane means I don't get in as much mileage this week as planned. Better to cut back & recover a little bit & then be ready to get back at it for reals (for a few weeks, anyway) when we get back.


  1. This made me feel better about (trying to) sleep an extra hour this morning. Of course I couldn't really sleep but I did feel more rested... I've really been focusing on sleep lately and have had the importance of rest pounded into me by the trainer I'm working with.

  2. Speaking from the direct experience of having a 3-year old son who didn't sleep through the night for those first 3 years (and yes, we tried just about every strategy out there to get him to sleep), I can testify to the utter despair of sleep deprivation at both a mental and physical level. Life is very different now with good, hard sleep. Running, relationships, work...all work better on sleep.

    1. Seriously, I have so much respect for people with small children on this front. I am such wreck when I don't get enough sleep that I would probably be the worst parent imaginable.

  3. I have been having this argument with so many people lately. You will be faster if you sleep more than if you don't sleep and go to the gym.

  4. Sleep is so, so important. I've tried the sleep deprivation thing to get everything done and it just doesn't work. So these days if I'm not sleeping well I'll take it a bit easier with my training. The body can only cope with so much stress.

  5. I get about 7 hours of sleep, sometimes less, and it seems to work for me - at least, I'm never tired so I guess it works! I do, on a rare occasion, struggle to get out of bed, but generally only when it's cold out and I'm wrapped in a cozy blanket. Then sometimes I might sleep later - maybe 8 hours - and I feel bleah the whole day. I think you can get too much sleep as well as too little!

    1. I think it's definitely true that people vary a lot in terms of what's optimal for them. ~7 seems to be the magic number for me, though I do fine with slightly more as well. (Past 9 seems to make me sluggish.) Most of the time I'd say I get between 5.5-7, but this week it's been more like 4-5. :P

  6. I'm completely with you on the sleep>workout thing. This is what I kept telling myself last week as I was recovering from jet lag. Plus, I'm not even training for anything... and oh yeah, running is hobby, whereas good sleep is a cornerstone of my health and well-being. So yeah, sleep trumps just about everything.

    Sad that we missed you on Saturday, but glad you're not fractured. Next time!

  7. I try to compromise - sleep an extra half hour, do half a workout. I know I almost always have to get some sort of workout in or else that's just another source of stress (it's all in my head...it's all in my head). But sometimes life gets in the way and you just have to let the workouts go.

  8. No bones on the outside!