Why You Need More Sleep

dog sleepingGetting a decent night of shut eye often feels difficult. With long hours at work, school, and family obligations, it’s challenging to fit in a good night’s sleep. Yet, it’s so vital for your own well-being. We all know this, so why don’t we follow it? Especially as runners, we need the time to recover and recharge the body. Here’s why:

  • Sleep helps control your weight. You may believe that because you run, you are somewhat immune to weight gain–you burn off the calories. However, without enough sleep, it doesn’t matter. Sleep deprivation can change the way your body stores carbohydrates and digests foods, making you gain weight despite your exercise efforts. And…heavier weight can affect your running times.
  • A good night’s rest each night will aid in cardiovascular health. As runners, it’s easy to develop a faster heart beat from overexertion. But irregular heartbeats can also occur if you don’t get enough rest. Additionally, lack of sleep can increase stress hormone levels and cause hypertension.
  • People who are tired are irritable, emotional, and lack motivation, especially when it comes to any physical activity.
  • Sleep also aids in running recovery. During sleep, the body heals and repairs the heart and blood vessels and muscles. If you’ve had an especially tough workout, sleep will allow you to recovery quicker and put you back running sprints around the track sooner.
  • Ongoing sleep deficiency can affect your body’s immune system. It can’t fight off viruses and bacteria, leaving you more apt to sickness.

So how much do you need?

According to the National Institute of Health, most healthy adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Just because you can get by on seven hours of sleep at night, doesn’t mean you should.





New Research in Fitness

Race DayHere is the lowdown of some new research in the fitness world:

In a study published in the February issue of Cell Metabolism, researchers used mice to find how exercise affected them. They found that mice who spent time running on a wheel were able to shrink tumors by 50 percent. High-intensity workouts helped to move cancer-killing cells toward lung, liver or skin tumors put into the mice.

Result: Running may help shrink cancer

A new study at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that you actually burn more calories by walking than originally thought. In fact, in 97 percent of the cases looked at by the researchers, walkers burned more calories than predicted.

Result: Walk and run more, burn even more calories

We’ve all heard that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight. Maybe not so anymore. Researchers at Loughborough University found exercising is more effective than food restriction in limiting daily calories.

Dr Stensel, a Reader in Exercise Metabolism in Loughborough’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, said: “Our findings provide a valuable contribution to the diet and exercise debate. We’ve shown that exercise does not make you hungrier or encourage you to eat more — at least not in the hours immediately following it. Our next step is to see whether this benefit continues beyond the first day of exercise.”

Result: Run if you want to lose weight.

A popular term now is HIIT, standing for high-intensity interval training. It is worth doing. Researchers at Ohio State University found that walking at a varying pace burns up to 20 percent more calories than walking at a steady pace in a study published in Biology Letters. The study also “confirmed the researchers’ prediction that people walk slower when covering shorter distances and increase their pace as distance increases,” according to Science Daily.

Result: Do your speed work and vary between interval and tempo speeds.





Happy Pi Day

 Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today is Pi Day: 3.14. Although everyone is posting scrumptious photos of pie all over social media, I want to juice. Why?

Juicing extracts vitamins and minerals from vegetables and fruits. They rapidly enter the bloodstream and get transported to all vital organs, making for better digestion and absorption of the food you need.

Here are some considerations to take if you decide to add juices to your diet:

Extra fiber
When you use a juicer, you will lose the fiber from the fruit. For example, the pulp of oranges will be extracted. With a blender, you will retain all of fruit. In this way, you get more nutrition. The downside is the juice isn’t as smooth. Typical juicers make the liquid much smoother and easier to go down.

Try: If you decide to use a traditional juicer, save the pulp and use it as an ingredient in other dishes, such as muffins and cookies.

Careful with the caloric count
Although you may beef up your vitamin and minerals, you could easily add 800 calories to a drink. Be mindful of how many fruits and veggies you add to keep your caloric count in check.

Try: Follow recipes with servings for 1 rather than start dumping produce into a juicer or blender.

Juicing to try to get your weight down
Most runners (not all!) want to be as thin as possible to keep their speed and endurance up. It’s harder to run with excessive weight. Juicing, however, may not be the optimal option for weight loss for runners. You need protein and will get sick and weak without it.

Try: Complementing your protein with juicing on the side, not as a meal or add in protein powder to the drink to give it more power.

Spring Has Sprung

runWe get to spring forward our clocks this coming weekend and I cannot wait. I love having more daylight in the nighttime and get to hit the track before the sky falls into darkness. It feels like a new day this time of year.

Some of you may want to get into more speed work now with the new daylight–hitting the track instead of the treadmill. Here are workouts to take with you:

Workout 1
Speed + Endurance:

800 m warm up
5 minute stretching
400 m x 4 with each 400 m gaining in speed. The goal is to conserve energy. Make your last 400 m all out.
2 minute rest
400 m x 4 with each 400 m gaining in speed. You will be slower this time. That wasn’t much rest. You are building both speed and endurance.
1 minute rest
800 m cool down. You can walk if you need.

Total distance: 3 miles

Workout 2
Speed only:

800 m warm up
400 m tempo speed
100 m x 8 at interval speed. Take one side of the track and run this back and forth.
Rest 60 seconds between each
After last 100 m, rest two minutes
400 m all out, faster than interval. Run as fast as possible.
Rest 2 minutes
800 m cool down

Total distance: 2 miles

Workout 3
Speed + Endurance, no rest:

800 m warm up, start off slower than normal warm up pace
400 m x 4, on the turns, pick up the speed to interval pace, on the straightaways you can run at whatever speed you need. You’ll be recovering but do not stop.
800 m at tempo speed the entire time
400 m at interval speed
400 m tempo speed
800 m cool down

Total distance: 3 miles

If you find yourself looking to kick up your workouts, try out one of these at least once a week. If you want even greater speed work, I suggest two speed workouts a week. They’ll cut down your time quickly.