Marathon Training 2019 Day 18: How To Get Better Sleep and Sleep’s Importance As Part of Recovery Part 1

February 1 2019 sunset photo“If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit”

Today, I did not run, but performed the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Prone planks (~30 seconds)
  • Side planks (~20 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~15 seconds)
  • Clamshells (15 repetitions on each side)

Later in the day, I did a hike with my wife, Karen, and our dog. It was such a beautiful day!


For beginners and those who have taken a significant amount of time off, and who took the past two days off from running, I recommend an easy run of 25-35 minutes in a primarily flat area. You should perform the exercises above immediately after your run, and perform a cool-down.

For those who have already run 2-3 times this week, I recommend a day off from running and performing the exercises above. You might do a brisk walk or hike.

Tip of the Day: In a previous post, I talked about the importance of recovery and mentioned some of the different aspects of recovery. Today, I want to focus on one of these aspects which is sleep. I discussed this in a previous article:,-what-to-do-and-why-its-important/

As I mentioned in this article there are many important benefits of sleep and ideally you should get 7-9 hours per night and wake up without an alarm clock. I’ve heard that Sir Richard Branson lets sunlight wake him up each morning. Research studies have shown that good quality sleep increases athletic performance (

If you are having trouble falling asleep there are several things that you can do to help you fall asleep and help ensure that you are obtaining high quality sleep. Sleep quality is determined by how fast you fall asleep and how much time you spend in REM and delta (deep, restorative) sleep. I certainly don’t have enough space in one post to go through all the different things that would be beneficial, however I will mention a few, and then discuss more in a future post(s).

Here are a few things to avoid that can negatively impact your sleep quality:

Bright Lights:

  • For at least 30 minutes before going to bed, try to avoid bright lights
  • If working on computer close to bedtime dim the screen by using f.lux (free software)
  • 5 minutes of white light from a screen shuts off your melatonin production for hours and can wreck the quality of your sleep, so it’s best to avoid screens in the evening entirely


  • Watching graphic violence on TV, computer or phone, might make it harder for you to fall and stay asleep because this can put you in fight-or-flight mode
  • If you do this, try using the HeartMath Inner Balance Sensor for a few minutes to reverse the effects and get out of fight-or-flight


  • Don’t drink coffee after 2pm or at least 8 hours before bedtime, whichever comes first
  • Some people need more than 8 hours of caffeine avoidance for maximum sleep performance, so track caffeine intake and sleep patterns

Second Wind:

  • There is a window from 10:45-11:00 pm when you naturally get tired. If you don’t go to sleep then and choose to stay awake, you’ll get a cortisol-driven “second wind” that can keep you up until 2am
  • You’ll get better sleep when you go to bed before 11pm and wake up feeling more rested, than if you’d gotten the same amount of sleep starting later


  • Non beneficial stress decreases immune function, shortens lifespan, and impairs sexual performance, as well as destroys sleep
  • Deep breathing exercises like Art of Living, pranayama yoga, and meditation can help your brain shut down and recuperate, my wife and I have been incorporating a deep relaxation Shavasana for twenty minutes before going to bed, which has helped tremendously!

In a future post(s), I will discuss other factors such as what and when you eat, and other tips that may be of benefit.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Sleep well.

Your friend and coach,


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