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I Am A Runner Part 4 - Sleeping, Consistency & Nutrition
Published on 23 March 2017 by Daniel Apostol, updated on 02 May 2017
Hello again runner!
Welcome to our 4th blog post. Today we will spend a moment talking about our sleep patterns (known as sleep hygiene), consistency in running and nutrition.
As a runner, poor sleep hygiene and poor quality of sleep will most likely affect your running performance, your healing capacity, glucose metabolism, immune function and may result in impaired cognitive function.
So, how much sleep do you need to get to achieve all the functional benefits? Well here we return back to studies. They suggest that adults should obtain eight hours of sleep per night. This may vary from individual to individual. Your requirement could range from six to ten hours of sleep per night. Without sufficient sleep a runner can experience decreased performance – now that is something to take into account isn’t it…
These same studies concluded that actions requiring fast decision making, fast reaction responses and fine motor skills are most affected by sleep deprivation. Whereas gross motor functions like strength and endurance plus lung capacity remain unaffected.
I have recently come across a study regarding sleep quality the night preceding a competition and the effect on performance, running economy, time and fatigue the next day. Interestingly 70% of the participants had a reduced sleep quality prior to the event partly due to increased pre-race anxiety without a resultant reduction in their performance.
Perhaps this study is highlighting that a single episode of sleep deprivation does not have a negative impact, whereas chronic sleep deprivation has an accumulative effect.
Have you asked how consistent you are with your running? Did you know that by fluctuating the amount of running you do you are more likely to experience muscle soreness or with a sharp increase in mileage without preparing the body, be more at risk of injury.
Try to be consistent with your weekly/monthly mileage. I would recommend 1 in 4 runs be intense i.e you can’t held a conversation and the other 3 runs at a slower pace that is more comfortable. You have to feel at the end of the running that you have sufficient energy for the next day/next morning run .
Bear in mind that adaptation occurs in time, adaptations in your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. This will keep you strong and running without injury. In other words, don’t try to jump steps or short cut your training, find the right consistency for you. You should challenge your body to different levels of new loading as this will enhance new adaptations and thereby improve your running. Consistency is not just about how often you train but also about being consistent with your recovery periods. These recovery periods need to occur weekly, seasonally and annualyl. So don’t feel guilty if you miss a run or a week of running, instead visualise it as a recovery period that will help you build up for the next training period.
I’m sure that every runner out there knows and recognises the importance of nutrition in running performance. I like to always say: please eat your vegetables!
If you are serious about running, which I’m sure you are, clean food is a must. Fresh vegetables, fruit, good quality fish, chicken/turkey breast and whole grains. You actually need a lot of carbohydrates, so you can add pasta, rice, sweet potato etc. Research suggests that for an endurance runner the daily intake of carbohydrate should be 7.6g/kg-males and 5.7/kg-females. I will share with you the recommendation of carbohydrate intake per hour for a marathoner on a running event - it’s 60g per hour, in a 2-4 hours running event. That’s a lot of carbohydrate. I don’t apologise for repeating myself as I want to make a point, you need carbohydrates!
Protein -another dangerous topic that you may wish to discuss further with a nutritionist… In the meantime, I will share a recent review that found protein + carbohydrates during running does not improve the time trial performance, when compared to carbohydrate intake alone. Saying that I still believe that protein has a role and place, especially for the enhanced rates of muscle protein synthesis.
This nutritional bit it’s an attempt in providing some generalised information about nutrition, nonetheless, dietary recommendation should be individualised to each person and should be provided by an appropriately and qualified professional in the nutritional field.
A runner should aim to maintain an adequate level of hydration during a run and should minimise their fluid loss. A fluid loss of more than 2% of their body weight will impair their running performance. A good, simple strategy is to ensure you consume water prior to your run and/or to have gels/packs, bars or fluids with you when you are running. I dislike the idea of running with a water bottle because of the altered arm swing motion and the effect this can have.
Water is the optimal re-hydration fluid, but if you go on a long run in a hot temperature I would suggest an oral re-hydration solution (local pharmacies have them) which has an increased index of hydration (hydration index scores around 1.5-with water being 1.0). In the majority of cases, plain water will be sufficient, but remember that you are losing sodium and other electrolytes too with the excessive sweating that will occur in a long run (0.5-2 L /hour), so you will need to take that in to account.
It’s important to remember that without adequate recovery of carbohydrate, protein, fluid and electrolyte levels your running performance may be obstructed.
I hope I have offered you in this blog series small bites of information that you can implement to your running strategy and you have enjoyed the read.
As always, if your physiotherapist, or doctor give you advice, please take it into account. The information in this blog is not to substitute your clinician’s advice. The idea was to raise your awareness and curiosity around the topics covered and maybe read a little more.
Our blogs have informative character and are not medical advice.
For a tailored, rehabilitation program or running advice/retraining please come and see a physiotherapist at One Stop Doctors, we would be more than happy to see you and help, please call 01442 331900.