Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Getting Your Zzz’s; Plus: a Minor Relapse

Nigella Lawson rocksDon’t fret. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I’ve only had a major relapse in scaling back my cupcake-eating, which won’t help the current state of my unraveling running shape.

But they were tasty ones—gingerbread, hot chocolate and half-baked cookie dough cupcakes from Main Street Cupcakes.

I’m willing to throw in the excuse I just picked up from Nigella Lawson: it’s not good for you, but it’s the holidays. And if that’s not reason enough to binge on cupcakes, I don’t know what is. She’s a fairly successful woman, and I think I should listen to her.

My training, however, came to a grinding halt on Sept. 29 the second I crossed the Akron Half finish line. No cool-down run, hardly any post-race stretching. Just a sudden stop, some x-rays and plenty of whining.

Lucky for me, I had two triathlons and all of the major road races for the season under my belt, and I was headed into my first off season. It’s picked up here and there in the past couple weeks, but I’m trying hard to balance recovery time with cardiovascular/strength maintenance while not falling too far off the meager progress I made with my diet.

The cupcakes are pretty difficult to kick and probably won’t help my body recover from the season. But sleep will!

We all know that sleep is like a magic pill—it enables our bodies to regenerate and recover from on- and off-season workouts—and getting eight hours of it on a regular basis keeps hormones at ideal levels and clears your brain. Do you remember the last time you got some kick-butt sleep? A Stanford study found that extra sleep helped the basketball team run faster, sink more shots and play with greater energy. Duh, right? But how much sleep did you get last night? The night before?

Sleep isn’t something most people put at the top of their priority list, but it’s the one thing that can make a huge difference. So, this public service announcement—reminding you to get your sleep this off season—will help you recover better, bounce back faster and pretty much live longer (Jim knows his sleep; read his "Read It and Sleep"). What’s not to love about that?

Wacky racquetballLet’s just say I’ve been loving it. A lot. Neil and I hit the racquetball courts again on Tuesday with Jeff for an hour of cutthroat. It wasn't too intense, but a swell time. We cooled down with an 8:30/mile pace half mile (what a cool down!) and a brief walk—all of which felt all right on me! Then I did some brief bricking: three sets of 5-minute stationary cycling/half-mile run at the track.

I cycled pretty hard (no races on Tuesday) and maintained an upper reach 175 HR across the pedaling and running, which I did at about 9:00/mile pace. It was a little faster than I had hoped, but my leg held up as if I had no reason to slow. Progress? If I don't overdo it.

It’s been months since I pulled off anything close to that kind of workout. And lucky for me, I wasn’t sore at all. I did, however, come home last night and pass out on the couch to the tune of Friends re-runs on TBS. Talk about 45 minutes of pleasant napping power.

Then I did again this evening. Same time, same place. Only today I had lunch at Bronte (where I had a delicious vegetarian chili over green rice I’d like to remake in my kitchen) with Betsy and Dan before scarfing down all the cupcakes. But I guess all that eating and book-shopping takes plenty of muscle too. Recovery (and sleep) is essential.


E-Speed said...

I am a big sleep advocate. It has to explain all my extra energy!

Happy holidays!

Joe said...

> it’s not good for you,
> but it’s the holidays

I like that philosophy.

triguyjt said...

gina.. i once slept while i was eating a cupcake. I know, its a talent that I don't brag about much.
seriously. the sugar and of course the caffeine kill me. holidays some years are tough, this year, I seem to have a handle. good job getting the training cranked up

kelsalynn said...

I wanted to tell you that I'm drinking Green Tea w/ Pomegranate right now and it is delicious! You should definitely try some if you haven't already!
Oh, and I get about 7-8 hours of sleep each night and even more usually on the weekends!