Day #48: Liquid Sleep


I’ve been encouraged not to post this blurb. But I believe that us runners who are deep into the running addiction are all too well aware of the pitfalls – as well as the elevated states – of our passion. And so I share about water…??

The busy runner, like the disciplined follower in any arena of effort, knows that life is a trade off. We double down on the miles this week in order to build longterm base, but know we do this at the risk of depleted reserves for next week’s speed sessions. We stay up late finishing the project — the blog post, as it were:) — wagering that the audience further bolstered and encouraged will offset the weary wages of irritability and compromised immunities of tomorrow. Yes, life has always been a game of compromises.

And so, when faced with the endless pressures of modern life, something must give in our running regimens. In my most diligent training seasons, I often had to trade sleep for….. you fill in the blank… relationships, the long run, the masters degree, or comradery – in the form of the not always so relaxing night out with friends…

While I was bent with all of my energies on becoming that much more efficient as a runner, ever striving to shave seconds off of my marathon pace, I was also unrelenting in my will to study, to court my wife and to attend to the various priorities of life. In all of these efforts, I eventually discovered a principle which I share today: staying well-hydrated, being ‘on top’ of your water intake as it relates to your training – can offset many of the negatives of sleep missed taking care of other priorities.

I know that my scientist friends are frowning as they follow this reasoning. They will tout the unrivaled benefits of sleep, wisely citing study after study. But the athlete in the trenches – especially the non-pro competitor – has many obligations to meet and cannot give all to the run always, though he ever wishes he could. The daily siesta is simply not an option for many of us. And so we must cope as best we can. My mechanism became to stay focused, often, on staying ahead of the curve in my hydration.

Have you ever run 80 miles in a week? 100 miles? 140 miles? How about 100 miles for 8 weeks in a row? When you do this type of training – as I did in a lifetime long ago 🙂 – you can get chronically dehydrated. You will actually feel pain to the deepest core and seemingly in every cell, as if your body is shrinking in. And if you persist in your mileage and change nothing to address this situation, you risk coming unglued altogether, your training unwinding.

This is actually the normal predicament of the ultra-runner. On raceday, our monitoring systems are betting on catching up with our simple carbs and keeping well ahead of any crises related to electrolytes and water. In the distance runner’s training, this experiment is simply spread out over weeks instead of hours. Yet the ultimate effect is similar. Just as now – not at mile 10 in the marathon – is the time to slow down, so too, now is the time to make sure of your water intake.

In short, I urge you to know that though some areas of your life will have to budge in order to keep the whole sound and balanced, be sure to give extra attention to your hydration. As a distance runner, you will find that a 16 ounce glass of H2O will refresh you similarly to a 30 minute or hour long catnap.

So… Here’s to water: “liquid sleep!”

Keep chugging!

~Coach Reed

image credit: venusbuzz