#163 How much rest does your body need? | DOC

#163 How much rest does your body need?

Today on the Doc On the Run Podcast, we’re talking about how much rest your running body really needs.

How much rest do you think your body really needs? Is it eight hours of sleep? Is it six hours of sleep? Are you one of those people who thinks you can live on four hours of sleep? 

If you really think about it, the number of hours that you sleep really has a direct correlation with your risk for running injury. 

If you’re one of those people who has gone to graduate school, and you got used to sleeping only five hours a night, and you’ve survived the first several years of work sleeping on five hours a night to sort of put in the extra effort and look really like a superstar at work, you may be able to get away with that. 

However, if you then are working with that same workload and you start training for a marathon, or you start training for an ultra marathon or a triathlon or something like that, you’re using up a lot of energy during that day that you weren’t using up before, and your need for sleep actually will increase, and if you don’t increase your sleep and your rest and your recovery you’re going to get injured.

Remember, running injuries never happen because you ran too far. They always happen because you loaded one structure too much and you beat it up too much, and you didn’t let it recover enough before the next workout, so that is not just that you spread your workouts far enough apart. It’s that you actually maximized the recovery. 

There is no overtraining. There is only under-recovering. 

And sleep is a huge part of that, so rest days are there for a reason. 

All endurance athletes are driven. We love the whole mythology of suffering. We love the idea of long runs when it’s raining or cold or hot or difficult for some reason. We think it makes us stronger, and it’s true, it will make you stronger, but overtraining injuries happen because you try to push it too far, and the pushing too far comes as a consequence of not recovering enough so rest is really and truly crucial.

I really believe that sleep is the number one most underutilized resource available to runners who are training for endurance events. So, if you really want to make sure that you don’t get a metatarsal stress fracture or another injury, you really have to make sure that you’re recovering as much as you can before your next run. 

That means doing things to get out the excess fluid, using compression socks or elevating your feet after your runs, doing the self-massage or going to get a massage. Doing anything that you can think of that’s going to help speed your recovery. It’s not just sleeping more. It’s doing things to actually mobilize the fluid, loosen things up, feed the healing process, and actually actively recover.

Recovery is not a passive process. It drives me nuts when I hear doctors say, “Oh, well you got a stress fracture. You just have to wait for six weeks.” This isn’t like waiting for a package to show up in the mail. You can do things to actually change the process, and a lot of that has to do with the way you rest, the way that you recover, and the way you actively fuel the healing process. 

So, if you get an injury, and you’re trying to figure out how to speed it up start thinking about rest. Number one how can you maximize your sleep? How can you sleep better? How can you rest better? How can you protect and stabilize that structure so it can heal faster and let it recover even faster than just waiting for the prescribed period of time? 

There’s always stuff you can do to change the process and to speed up the healing process, and most of it begins with recovering appropriately.

If you have a question that you would like answered as a future edition the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me, and then make sure you join me in the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast. Thanks again for listening!