Exercise vs. SleepJuly 8, 2009
Two days ago I finally did it. I signed up for a race. A week from this coming Saturday, I will have accomplished my goal of running a race this summer. I am incredibly excited about it. I chose a 6km trail run so that I’ll have some nice scenery to look at as I’m on the move. I’m also getting a free pancake breakfast out of it, and how can you go wrong with pancakes, right? Right.
I haven’t been following any kind of training schedule at all. I’ve just been running about twice a week, for around 30 to 40 minutes at a time. Running by myself, weaving in and out of the streets and through parks. On Monday I went for a run with Caroline, so it was a really nice change to have someone to run with. Playing soccer twice a week has also been helpful for increasing my speed.
There’s just been one problem that has come up: the issue of sleep.
In some ways, sleeping is a real nuisance. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to crawl into bed at the end of the day, but sometimes the day just doens’t seem long enough to do everything that I would have liked. And that’s when I’ve had the conflict of trying to decide what is most important to me; sleep or exercise.
I’m well aware of the importance of a good night’s sleep. Resting is just as critical to our health as physical activity is. But what about when they cut into each other? I really like to exercise early in the morning. I don’t mind waking up at 6am to fit in a run before going to work. If I’m waking up at 6am, though, then it’s probably a good idea to go to bed at a reasonable hour. The summer is a sociable time and it disagrees with the notion of “reasonable hour”! Going out with friends or playing soccer later on in the evening keeps me up past the time I should be in bed. And then I have to make the decision, do I sleep an extra hour to get a decent amount of rest, or do I wake up early to go for a run, thus cutting into my rest time?
I usually choose the latter. I don’t mind foregoing sleep in the name of exercise because it makes me feel great. As long as I don’t do it all the time, my body is quite happy with waking up early. Sometimes the early morning exercise is actually what I need to keep my energized throughout the day. That, after all, is what I was doing with boot camp. I dragged myself out of bed early each morning no matter what I’d been doing the night before because it was something that I loved and made me happy. I think I’d rather be a little bit tired but have enjoyed a good and healthy burst of exercise than to get a longer sleep and miss out on the therapeutic run/walk/<insert other activity here> which does my body so much good. It can sure be a hard decision, even so.
What do you like to do? Rest or exercise? The biggest thing that concerns me when I don’t get adequate rest is that then I might not be performing as well on my runs as I could have if I’d skipped the run that day for the sleep-in, and gone for a run a couple days later. But on the other hand, I don’t want to keep putting it off. It would be too easy to say to myself that sleep is important, and I can always go for a run “some other time”- I wouldn’t want that to become a regular frame of thought.
It certainly is a conundrum! Have you had this issue before? What do you do to deal with it?
Anyone else running a race within the next couple weeks? If you happen to be in the area, you should join the Try a Trail race that I’ll be running on July 18th! It’s going to be a fun time. And pancakes. We all love pancakes.