Sleepless After a Marathon

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 | By Hal Higdon
 
 
 
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Got a question about running? You're in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon's Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.

QUESTION:

Is it unusual to experienced insomnia the night following a race? Two marathons under my belt, the last one the Charleston Marathon, and after each race I simply cannot get to sleep despite my post-race fatigue. It drags on for several days, which I suspect impacts my recovery. I don’t want to take sleeping pills. What do I do?

HAL’S ANSWER:

I suspect your sleeplessness following a marathon is because your body may have crossed the finish line, but your mind is still replaying the race: the anticipatory excitement at the start, the crowds cheering your every step, the incredible high as you finally cross the finish line, ending a journey that began 18 weeks or more before. If you indulged in a post-race eating binge, that may impact your recovery even more. Plus your muscles are sore, the healing process just begun. Little wonder that insomnia strikes. Nevertheless, I don't think staying awake at night impairs your recovery that much, as long as you are horizontal and don't get frantic about the "sleep" you supposedly are missing. Running a marathon is a sensory experience that gets us all wound up, so don’t fight it. Good sleeps should not be too far off.

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