One thing I learned when I began to progress from age grouper to pro was how much sleep impacts training and performance. Because of this, sleep is my #1 priority. To begin with, “non-athlete Les” is moderately neurotic about sleeping, so it’s not surprising that the athlete version is actually quite obsessive, sometimes to the point of not sleeping (yeah I know). So, I schedule 8+ hours of sleep a night (that’s right I “schedule”) because this is what I find works best and allows me to be awake at work and not wanting to kill myself during workouts.
My tactics for getting enough sleep and sleeping well have changed over time, and over the past year especially. First, I try extremely hard to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. For me, this is 9:30 PM to 6 AM and does not change even if I’m working out in the AM. The second thing I added this year is that I never change my wake up time more than 30 minutes from night to night. Now this one is tricky as it takes a little bit of planning in advance.
So this past weekend I accompanied Nate to the 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga Tennessee to share some of the driving and also cheer him on. Unfortunately, this was also my last weekend of big training before racing Ironman Chattanooga in two weeks, so while it was great that I got to see the course and support Nate, the travel/activity was not ideal for training.
When looking ahead at my week prior to the trip I realized we were going to have some problems. Because of work and also driving 9 hours to Chattanooga I was gong to have some VERY early mornings in my future. So starting last weekend I began moving up my bedtime/wakeup time by 30 minutes each night. So 9:30, 9:00, 8:30, then 8:00. 7:30 is a little too “infant” so I stopped myself at 8:00 pm. I had a 4 AM wake up call on Friday before making our trip and this whole sleeping plan worked perfectly. I nailed my Friday AM swim and was not feeling exhausted. I have to give a shoutout to Life Time Fitness for opening at 4:30 AM!
By the time we made it to Chattanooga I was still feeling really good. But unfortunately this is where my whole bedtime schedule ended. Saturday my plan was to train a ton and watch the women’s race. I was shooting for another 4AM wake up. This DEFINITELY didn’t happen but I managed to squeeze in some workouts while the women were out on the bike course and then after the race ended around 3pm. So not a total failure. Sunday was a similar scenario but since Nate was already waking up at 4:30 AM, I was able to get a long run in before he entered T1. Win. Although I wasn’t feeling as “energized” as I hoped.
The race itself was fantastic and I love spectating so much plus Nate finished 3rd in his AG so there were wins all around. However, with all the celebrations and hanging out with friends, my sleep situation was not getting better. Then add the 9 hour drive on top of that and I was a total zombie pulling into the house on Monday night.
Today is Tuesday and I feel that I’m getting back on track. 9:30PM tonight and I think I should be a normal person again tomorrow.