How important is sleep in preparing for a race?

Written for Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2012 Race Preparation Articles

Sleep is an often underrated form of recovery. Athletes are keen to buy shelf products such as compression garments, nutrition and other products, without realizing that this free activity of sleeping is actually the key behind recovery.

However, I do understand that sleeping in a hectic country like Singapore is a luxury. Many people are happy to be able to sleep 5 hours a day. It is definitely a challenge, but we need to really look at sleep as part of a training regime.

There are two ways we can go into this discussion:

1. Sleep as a form of recovery on a daily basis

During months before a race, sufficient sleep on a daily basis is crucial to help you recover effectively from daily training which will in turn allow you to perform better on race day. Sleep is important before and after important workouts that you have planned during the week. Perhaps you may want to try putting your long run sandwiched between nights when you can have the most uninterrupted sleep. On days when you know that sleep is limited, put in the easy runs. This routine will fully take advantage of your sleep to enhance recovery.

2. Sleep before the Race

Having uninterrupted sleep a couple of days before the event is crucial for the same reasons – to allow our body to recover completely for the big day. However, many of us have difficulty sleeping on the night before. This is entirely normal and there is no need to be overwhelmed when faced with this difficulty. I personally also have trouble sleeping on the night before big races. For the past 3 Singapore marathons, I had about 3 hours worth of sleep. But what kept us going on race day is the adrenaline surge. Adrenaline is a hormone produced by our body during times of extreme excitement and for some, nervousness, and it’s good in times like this. It keeps us alert, awake and ready to run the race of our lives.

So fret not if you can’t sleep before the race but do try to get ample sleep during your daily trainings to allow for superior recovery.

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