So I made it through Troy's challenge to get to sleep before 9pm for 2 weeks straight. It wasn't easy, there were many times that I was turning off the lights at 8:59, but I really learned a lot. Some nights I simply couldn't get to sleep and would lie awake for 10-40 minutes before finding sleep. That was frustrating for someone who usually is comatose shortly after laying down. There was also the frustration of putting down a good book, or not responding to an athletes email because I just didn't have time. I like to have a sense of completion at the end of the day and sometimes I felt like I was going to sleep with things left unresolved. I also started to see that how close I ate to going to bed was having an effect on my ability to sleep. This recognition is a good thing, but because I'm not quite sure what the parameters of eating/good sleep are, I found myself laying there awake wondering if it was because I ate 30 minutes ago.
So, that was the downside. Here's the upside. I think I found the holy grail. I have felt so rested, and so fresh and ready to train, especially last week. In fact, on RestWise I had 2 days with a 100 score which means you are ready to train hard. I've never had a 100 score before. This was the biggest week that Dirk has given me since we have been working together and I got through it with ease and pep in my step, seeing some awesome watt and pace numbers along the way, and feeling like it was generally a breeze. Friday I trained for 8 hours...2 hrs swimming, and 6 hours riding, and I felt awesome. Just full of life and strength.
A tweet from Matt Dixon (@purplepatch) the other day really resonated with me:
I'm bemused by the focus placed on compression+ice+stretching, but ignore proper fueling, sleep + lighter training sessions.#fingerinthedam
I've been one to get 10 hour nights of rest before. But never 2 weeks straight of 9-10 hours sleep. That made all the difference, extended periods of good rest. Wow, is all I can say! The quality of work that comes from lots of good healthy sleep, rest periods in your training, and good food is awesome. I think that until you really feel the gift of extended great sleep, you don't know what you are missing out on.
Speaking of good food, I just picked up the Feed Zone Cookbook. I have been highly impressed. Thank you Biju Thomas and Allen Lim! I haven't been eating vegan for awhile now. I went through a period of time where all I could think about was eggs. Eggs Eggs Eggs. I just wanted eggs. A few months back I broke down and bought eggs, and I ate tons of them. About 2 days after that I felt so so so much better. I find that sometimes I eat like crap and then I say "I need to go vegan to get my veggie count back up". So I do that and I feel great, but then some time after that, I find that I am eating worse than I was when my veggie count was down. I end up eating a lot of hummus and pita chips, guac and chips, and veggie burgers (processed junk). I just have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen to eat vegan and so when I don't make time for that I eat crappy.
I have a wonderful recipe for vegan scrambled eggs. It's super good and I love to eat it. It takes me 35 minutes to make. I have a great recipe for non vegan scrambled eggs, it takes me about 5 minutes to make. That, my friends, is where I crumble currently.
Anyways back to The Feed Zone cookbook. What I have made thus far...YUM!
I did some sweet potato cakes for breakfast and then made up some sausage rice cakes and some bacon cashew rice cakes for snacks this week.
Everything turned out really good, and I can't wait to experiment with more recipes. It was just a stroke of luck that we recently bought a really nice rice cooker (a Zojirushi) and when I tweeted that, everyone started asking me about the Feed Zone cookbook. That's when I purchased the book (thanks for the heads up @SkratchLabs I love twitter).
There is a fairly lengthy introduction to the cook book which I highly recommend reading, it really resonated with me. My feelings on the matters of athlete nutrition were very similar. A few quotes really stood out to me and I will share.
The context with this first one was that he was talking about bars and quick convenience training "food".
Though these products are convenient and can play an important role in supplementing an athletes diet, this convenience belies a simple truism about athletics: Being an athlete is hard. And if you want to reach your potential, it's unlikely that the best way will be easier or more convenient.
---Allen Lim, The Feed Zone Cookbook.
The other quote that I just love really sums up the obsessive nature that we all can get with this sport.
While there is sometimes a large chasm between science and practice, success in either is a lot more about the process of discovery than the regurgitation of facts or techniques.
---Allen Lim, The Feed Zone Cookbook.
It's true, isn't it. It's so easy to get hung up on the idea of what we should do, what science, or slowtwitch, or articles say we should do. When we arrive at what we should do via personal exploration, then it really sticks. Because we are all an experiment of 1 and if we give up on trying new things and experimenting, then I think average is what we will end up. Granted, the "average" triathlete is a pretty darn awesome way to live your life.
Last night (when I stayed up until 10) and this morning as well I have been thinking to myself....how am I going to convince myself to go to sleep before 9 as a long term solution rather than a short term way to score a Zeo? I think about the night owl that I am, about how much I love reading great books deep into the night, and I wonder, how.... how??
Being an athlete is hard. And if you want to reach your potential, it's unlikely that the best way will be easier or more convenient.
Dang it! I know that my training is more effective on a steady stream of 9-10 hours of sleep. I did the experiment, I convinced myself. Now it's down to the "do what's hard" phase of being an athlete.
So, from now on, I will endeavor to kill the night owl in me. DEATH to the night owl.