Sleep Walking and Travel Running: Marathon Training Week 3
For those just tuning in, I’m training for the March 2012 LA Marathon and attempting to take some time each week to share progress and thoughts here. Hopefully a few people will enjoy them enough to contribute to my Pablove fundraising page in support. Thanks to everyone who has contributed thus far. I’ve raised more than $500 with just two blog posts. Hopefully I can keep it moving, and DJ Strictnine and Paranorm once said…
Week three complete! It was an easy week overall, just one speed session and a step back from 11 to 8 miles on the long run. The speed session wasn’t easy but I got it done and my time wasn’t terrible (better than Higdon recommended, not quite as good as where I wanted to be according to Daniel’s Running Formula). There are two things I’m finding challenging:
- Getting enough sleep.
I used to think sleeping less was a desired characteristic of alpha dudeness, but the science nerd in me has soundly trumped my alpha dude with facts. Scientists don’t fully understand *why* we need sleep but they know conclusively we do, especially when exercising hard. Lack of sleep leaves your body unable to recover from intense workouts and headed for injury. Not to mention the fact that lack of sleep has been linked to all the symptoms of aging; as we get older we get less and less deep sleep as our body slowly enters the cool-down phase of life.
I’ve been tracking my sleep with my Fitbit and the trend this week was bad, starting at six hours and change and steadily decreasing night after night for one reason or another (travel, work, holiday party madness, etc). On Saturday night I finally recharged for a full eight hours and Fitbit tells me that’s the first eight-hour stint I’ve had in many weeks. Not good. Aim: 8 hours of sleep on more nights.
- Keeping the workouts going while traveling.
I travel a lot for work (this week it’s NYC->SF->LA->Nashville) and making time/place to run isn’t trivial. Tonight for example I’m landing in NYC after midnight, probably won’t be in my hotel room until nearly two a.m., and will need to be up at six or seven a.m. to get tomorrow’s workout in before a full day/night of meetings. Ouch. So much for #1 above (tonight at least).
But I’m making it a priority and have the week mapped out. I’m opting out of seeing The Black Keys late tomorrow night in NYC so I can get up early on Tuesday and get my long mid-week run in. I made sure the cheapo startup-budget hotels I’m staying at in both NYC and SF have a treadmill in case of crappy weather. I’m traveling solo with my five year-old to Nashville so I need to be sure I can plan a way to get my Saturday and Sunday runs in either with a borrowed stroller or someone to be around while she sleeps in (she’ll stay on Pacific time and sleep til nine a.m. CT) while I get the race pace and long runs in early.
It might seem like a hassle or a distraction but I actually dig it. Without the morning run I’m way more likely to eat wrong and drink too much alcohol while traveling. It’s helpful for me to have another outlet to fixate on.
If you have any tips/tricks for getting more sleep or keeping up with your exercise while traveling, please leave ‘em in the comments below.
Also, I wanted to thank my friend Mike Hughes for turning me on to Ben Greenfield’s podcast in the comments of last week’s blog post. I hadn’t heard of Ben before but I’ve been listening to him as much as possible since last week. Ben is an incredible resource. He’s knowledgeable and clearly works hard to steer away from hyperbole and stick with the science of fitness. Very worth listening to if you’re interested in fitness and the science of the body.
Speaking of science, both Runner’s World (Dec) and Running Times (Nov) had some interesting stats roundups in their recent issues showing trends in running. A few things I learned:
- If you think running is for affluent dudes, you’re half right. 96% of the responders to Runner’s World’s survey were college educated, but the male/female split was even steven, 50/50. What’s interesting is how recent a phenomenon that is. The Running Times article reports 25% of 4.7M road race finishers were female in 1990 but 53% of the 13M were in 2010. Also, note the more than 2x growth in total finishers over the same 20 years. Wow. Marathon finishers are slightly less female at 41% in 2010, but that’s up from 10% in 1980 and 19% in 1990.
- We’re damn close to the ceiling on what elite runners can do with the human body. Despite huge gains in knowledge over the past 25 years, the 1st place finisher time at the NY Marathon has only increased 3 min 20 seconds between 1985 and 2010 from 2:11:34 to 2:08:14. Have superior body mechanics and running economy, move to altitude, run in snowshoes, pile on 140 miles/week, and you too could stand a chance of beating that by a second or two.
- As the population of marathon runners more than tripled from 143K to 507K between 1980 and 2010, the median time got slowly worse through 2005 (from 3:32 to 4:20 for men) but improved slightly between 2005 and 2010 (to 4:16). So perhaps there are now enough people in marathoning to know the median time it takes a human to cover 26 miles?
- I thought this stat was funny: While 96% of the Runner’s World respondents were college educated only 82% were employed. The 18% unemployment rate is 2x our current scary national average and probably 4x the average for the college educated population at-large. Running must be popular among stay-at-home parents. I know if I had my dream gig (Mr. Mom) I’d try to work my way up to elite status.
Please think of me running along the east side of NYC at 4am PT tomorrow morning. If that doesn’t make you contribute to my fundraising page at Pablove, what will? Feel free to drop a challenge in the comments.
Oh! One more thing: Since they don’t make running shirts with the Misfits skull or Slayer logo I want to put my own designs on running shirts. I’m surprised Zazzle or Cafe Press don’t offer some decent Dri Fit shirts. Anyone know how to do this on a one-off basis? I found some spots with 20 shirt minimums but I don’t see how that’s going to work unless I find a batch of folks as idiotic as I am. Maybe I should try to get Isac Walter involved…