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Recovery and Sleep

Recovery is the fourth discipline in a triathlon. You can swim, bike and run yourself into the ground if you don’t get enough of it. And the key word in the arsenal of recovery tools is…SLEEP!

Yes there is a direct link between good recovery and good sleep. During my career the recovery I got from sleep was critical to being able to handle the training load I needed to be at the top of my game. That recovery sleep was not just at night. It included some key naps taken after hard workouts. But one this I discovered was that sleeps ability to enhance recovery is not just about the amount of time spent in bed. It’s more about the quality of that time.

Here are some key questions to ask and answer honestly about your sleep health:

  • Do you get enough of it…regularly?
  • Do you have good quality sleep…regularly?
  • Do you wake up feeling refreshed from your sleep…regularly?

The list of questions about sleep that are important are not going to impress you or surprise you. Every athlete knows it’s important. One research study conducted at a university with athletes in many different kinds of sports found that endurance oriented athletes who went from not getting enough sleep to actually getting enough sleep consistently got improvements that were better than taking EPO. And sleep is legal!

Shut down early.

Here are my top get more and better sleep tips:

  • Set your bedtime that will give you enough sleep and stick to it at least 5 nights/week. And the key to hitting that is to track how much time it takes you to wind down and actually get in bed. So if say 10:00pm is your goal, don’t start getting ready and winding down the day at 9:55pm. If you are like me, you’ll miss your head on the pillow time by at least an hour.
  • Prepare your mind for sleep in your wind down routine. What might that look like? Stop scrolling on your devices at least 30-minutes prior to all lights out. Make your to do list for tomorrow so you aren’t making a mental list when you are in bed trying to fall asleep. Resolve and process anything that’s bugging you about the day as you wind down so that rather than having all those conversations in your head about what you should have said to this person and done in that situation, your mind is quiet when you pull the covers over you.
  • Set the stage for good sleep. That means make your bedroom cool. Humans sleep better when the temperature drops around us at night. If you find it tough to relax, a heavier comforter or blanket can really help. The weight triggers a relaxation response in your body and causes the release of serotonin, which is a key chemical your body produces that helps you have quality sleep.

With good sleep your body can recover, repair and regenerate from the training you do. Without enough of it on a regular basis you shortchange your recovery and don’t gain the most from the workouts you do each day.

Make it a must!


Join me with training that is customized to help you recovery: Coaching With Mark

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