A college athlete of mine recently asked me about the importance of sleep. He has a busy school, work and social schedule. His sleep was starting to suffer and he wanted to know if sleep was really that important to his endurance goals.
Coach Chris’s response:
I emphasized to my athlete just how important proper sleep is. Growth hormone is released during sleep and there is added hormone production when sleep is extended past normal ranges. On the flip side, a two hour reduction to one’s normal sleep pattern is equivalent to consuming enough alcohol to register a .05 blood alcohol level. While the average adult gets 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep daily, there have been recent studies done on athletes that show enormous benefits to athletic performance when they are able to get 10 hours of sleep per night. ESPN even did a story where they stated that sleep is the “magic pill” for athletic performance.
I mentioned to my athlete that there are many devices on the market today that track the amount and quality of sleep. I, personally, use the Timex Move X20 to track my daily sleep patterns. I find that it really helps me stay more consistent. I’m also able to better understand my energy levels on a daily basis.
LifeSport Coach Chris Thomas has over 10 years of coaching experience and is USAT certified. Chris is also an Ironman 70.3 World Champion (M40-44). He enjoys working with athletes of all levels. Contact Chris to tackle your first triathlon or to perform at a higher level. Find more tips on Twitter@LifeSportCoach.
Wow, what a race! This has been on my bucket list of races to do for quite some time. I had heard how challenging the race was from several athletes. However, just like most things, you have to find out for yourself! I came into the race having completed 2 outdoor rides since competing in the Ironman World Championships back in October. Both of those outdoor rides where done out in Arizona on Mt. Lemmon during my Timex team camp. So I had not been outside in the northeast in about 7 months. I had logged plenty of trainer miles, so I knew I was fit. I just didn't think I was race fit.
Here's the profile of the run course. The race starts with one 5 mile loop that includes 900 feet of climbing. It's single track for the climbs and groomed wide trails for the decents. I really enjoyed the first loop and felt ready for the bike. I knew it was going to be a long day, so I kept it pretty easy in zone 1 for the first loop.
Once I got onto the bike, I realized right away that I had made a big technical mistake. I still had my 11-25 rear cassette on from Hawaii. The first hill made me realize what a rookie mistake that was. My legs were working right out of the gate. There were sections of the bike that were a bit technical on a couple of the descents. Fortunately, my friend and prior winner, Mitch West had warned me to be cautious on the first downhill. The remainder of the bike was very challenging but enjoyable. By the end of the 3rd lap and 8,406 feet of climbing I was ready to get off my Trek Speed Concept. It had served me well, but I was ready for the 2nd run.
My friend Mitch had told me that there were sections of the run that were really steep and would need to be walked. During the first loop of the race, I was thinking to myself that he had no idea what he was talking about. Well, as soon as I hit the run the 2nd time, I knew immediately what Mitch was talking about. Oh my gosh, my heart rate was running high and I was getting pretty dehydrated. I managed through the 3 loops by just focusing on keeping one foot in front of the other. It was not a run, but forward movement. The only real excitement came towards the end of the 2nd loop, when I almost stepped on a huge black snake. I screamed and jumped over it at the last second and I was very happy that there were no witnesses to my little freak moment. That certainly got my heart rate racing again. I crossed the finish line in 7:20:19 and managed to take the overall title. It was an experience I will not forget.
Career Highlights: 2009 USA Triathlon Amateur Athlete of the Year, 2012,2013, 2014 USA Triathlon Masters Athlete of the Year, 2014 USA Triathlon Olympic National Championship Masters Champion, 4 X Ironman 70.3 World Championship Age Group Winner (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013), 18 X 70.3 Overall Amateur Champion, 9 X Ironman World Champion Finisher (4 X Top 10 in Age Group), 2015 American Zofingen LC Champion, 2nd OA IM Maryland
I started competing in triathlon in the summer of 2000. I had always been intrigued by the sport since the early ‘80s when I would watch the Hawaii Ironman on TV. I got into running at a young age (6yrs old) as my father was a big marathon runner back in the late 70’s, early 80’s running boom. I did my first 10-mile road race when I was 10 years old. I also played ice hockey throughout my childhood and I stopped running my sophomore year in high school in order to completely focus on ice hockey. I did not run again until the fall of 1999. During that race, a friend of mine mentioned that he competed in sprint triathlons, short duration races lasting around one hour. I was immediately interested and I signed up for my first triathlon in July of 2000 up in Falmouth, Ma. I was immediately hooked. I loved the competition. I especially liked the aspect of the three sports and how one could continue to practice and improve in each sport. I believe all three sports compliment each other. I also really enjoyed the idea of challenging myself to see where I could get. So, while triathlon is a competition, I see it more as a race against yourself then others. It is a very addictive sport, but I think it’s probably one of the healthiest addictions that I know of. The training is also a great stress relief. I worked in New York City for the past 5 years and down on Wall Street for 2 years. The commute and the lifestyle can get pretty stressful at times. The training really helped me de-stress and stay focused. I have three little boys and I really enjoy sharing the sport with all three of them. I don’t care if they ever compete in a race, but I do believe it’s important to expose them to healthy opportunities in life. I would say that the hardest endurance scenario I’ve faced was actually the first half ironman I competed in up in Laconia, NH, which was the Timberman race. I’ve completed four full Ironman events, but that half ironman was my first attempt at the distance. I feel, in hindsight, that I just was not properly trained for the event. It was an incredible eye opening experience. I don’t think I’ve been more tired then the moment I crossed that finish line. However, the human mind is fascinating, as I was looking forward to the next race less then 24 hours after.