Sleep or Slip

Napping on my Ironman fleece. Perfectly symbolic. 

We are machines. Ok, technically, we’re humans, but we operate on schedules and lead best when there’s direction. We go into off mode when the lights go out and awake ready to start our daily cycle over again. And I think we can all agree that when there’s a break in that cycle, one could, and very well will, go crazy. 

But what do I know? You may be someone that can operate on only a few hours of sleep because those college years of pulling all-nighters and late night partying has built a foundation that allows you to properly function at a bare minimum. I am not one of those people. As a matter of fact, 8 hours of sleep still isn’t enough for me these days. It’s a sad reality, but one I’m working on.

So I had to go ahead and sign up for this Ironman thing. Ha. Any and all thoughts about getting plenty of sleep pretty much went out the door when I signed my life away and bought that race entry. I’m learning why this training isn’t right for most people; because most people want a life. Mine is certainly still present, but I’m usually too tired to enjoy every single moment of it; I usually just want to go home and go to sleep. Actually, every time I say it, it sounds delightful.

Post 5K sneaker shot with my teammates! 6am runs are much easier with friends.

What I’m learning is that this is OK. I did commit to something very big and it weighs terribly on my body quite often, therefore I need to take into consideration that with the time made for work comes the time made for sleep. In my current cycle of life, I wake up, train, work, go to bed. My social life has taken a back seat though I still try and be a great friend in all the ways I can. The selfishness here is that I need my sleep. Can you blame me? I’m investing a lot into my training and my early mornings are seven days a week. Friday and Saturday late nights are not feasible when you have 6:30am workouts on weekends. The understanding needs to be there between all parties that it’s not personal, it’s really just business. Like any job you want to do your best at, I’m working on a project that could shift at any moment if I dare to put myself last and let my health slide.

Taking care of the limbs! Stretching post 2.5hr computrainer ride at T2 Multisport NYC.

These past few weeks have been very busy for me with work, which turns out to be a very full-time job. (I’m learning that a lot of Ironman athletes work from home or have more part-time gigs due to the overall workload of training and career). I’ve been very burnt out lately, not recognizing myself in the mirror due to stress. A big culprit of all this is working late nights and not getting enough sleep. Meanwhile, I’m still pulling PRs in all of my workouts, which is insane considering these factors. (I know it doesn’t always work that way).

This past Tuesday, St. Patricks Day, I must have been extra lucky when I woke up at 5:15am for our 6am team run in Central Park. We had our 5k run test, the second of the season, and I knocked 45 seconds off my time! I got my pace down to 7:56/mile. My fastest is 7:39 which I pulled off three years ago when I was solely a runner and my knees were a little kinder to me. Anyway, it’s great news and pumped me up. It brought me back to the reality that I am improving and my training is headed in the right direction - something I definitely need to hear on my road to Ironman. I’m putting in the work, eating healthy, ditching the alcohol and getting my Zzz’s as much as possible. No day is perfect, but when I find the time, my head hits the pillow.

Stress is weighing people down, even killing some, and it’s a scary thing. We live in such a fast-paced time, and so much is expected from most of us, leaving many with strong migraines, tight chests and long term side effects. Whether you’re training for a race or trying to improve your overall health, sleeping really is such a HUGE piece of your wellbeing puzzle. Are you building a life around your bedtime? If not, think about doing so. Sprinkle in the things you love and move your late nights to the weekends, or pre-plan or cook your dinners ahead of schedule so you come home with less to worry about and more time to unwind. I’m no doctor so I can’t be offering medical advice, so let me put it this way - Don’t you like yourself better when you’ve gotten your beauty sleep? You know that’s a big fat YES. Now go take a nap!! I think I’ll do the same…

Don’t wake me up,

Current workouts:
Tuesday, 3/17: 5k RUN test / 2100m SWIM
Wednesday, 3/18: 75min computrainer RIDE
Thursday, 3/19: 30min STRENGTH training / 4150m SWIM
Friday, 3/20: 6mile RUN, Fartlek/speedwork
Saturday, 3/21: 2.5hr computrainer RIDE / 2mile RUN
Sunday, 3/22: skip 10mile RUN and SLEEP / 3000yd SWIM with team