Buzz, buzz, buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … My alarm wakes me this morning. It’s 2:40am. Just 20 minutes after my daughter woke me to say her comforter fell off the bed and needed to be replaced.
I didn’t have it in me. I rolled over, grabbed the covers, and faded back into sleep. Bed won. What should’ve been a 12 mile run, was left to what should’ve been.
When I finally awoke, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Sleep is the hardest thing for me with respect to my ultrarunning. It’s not the running. It’s not the darkness. It’s not the rain, the snow, the heat, the fog. It’s the sleep.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a very good sleeper, but what I realized is, with respect to sleep, there’s such a fine – fine, like a razor blade fine line between my ultrarunning success and total failure. Too much sleep, and I don’t have the time to properly train. Too little, and I run myself into exhaustion – which is probably true for most folks, but the line between the two feels incredibly thin sometimes.
Flash back to this morning …
I made the right call. I’d slept less than four hours. I can’t expect to make it through a couple hours of running, a day’s worth of work, hanging with the family and then get up at 2:20am the next day to run again. It just wouldn’t work.
I’ve been trying to pull more of my running into the work week to spend more time with my family on the weekend. I don’t sacrifice much time with my kids because I’m usually running very early while they’re sleeping, but consequently I lose time in the evenings with my wife because I’m trying to go to bed early.
It’s really quite selfish. It reminds me of how selfish ultrarunning is, but it is … what it is. So I’ve been trying to pull at least one of the weekends long runs forward. To give us more time together at least one of the weekend nights.
It’s not working.
For the year, I average 6 hours 35 minutes of sleep a night. 3 hours 8 minutes of deep sleep, and I get up, on average at 5:48am (yes I track all of that). Those aren’t really terrible numbers. But those are just averages … easing the hills and valleys into more of a pleasing number. Of course, on days I run, the sleep is much less, the mornings much earlier – and I ride the sleep trough into the next wave of rest.
I felt like I handled the sleep during the early part of the year much better than I’m handling it now. Looking at the data, I was doing both of my long runs on the weekend. But as I mentioned before – I don’t get to spend as much time with my wife that way.
So … what to do??
Ultimately I feel like I’m in a much better place when I’m getting my training in and feeling successful as a runner. And by successful – for me, that just means showing up for a race, properly trained, and completing it. When I’m not feeling successful with my running, that has other negative impacts – I get grumpy for one, and my fuse is a bit shorter.
Fortunately for me, the training cycle for my next race is about to peak next week. But there will be others soon enough.
I think I’m going to go back to running both long runs on the weekend, drop the mid-week runs to twice per week (and lengthen them a bit), schedule deliberate off-days and take the opportunity to spend more quality time those evenings with the family.
When my wife, and I do get the chance to snag a sitter, and sneak away on a weekend date night, well … I’ll just make sure I schedule the shorter of the two long runs the next morning.
Sleep. Who thought it’d be so hard?
How do you balance workout time with family time?
What’s the hardest part of your training?