Sleep? It’s a Runner’s Best Friend

By Megan Cox

Okay, so if you’ve done the newborn thing, you know where I’m coming from here. If you haven’t, count your lucky stars, sheep, or whatever, and enjoy your eight hours (give or take) of rest.

I’m not in bad shape. Not really. Two years ago, when I had my daughter, the hospital sent me home without much help (as the saying goes, “Up a creek without a paddle.”). My daughter was still up every two hours at five weeks, and I became obsessed with sleep. My research paid off. At 10 weeks of age, she was sleeping eight or more hours a night, and by six months she was sleeping over 11 hours without a fight, which she continues to do to this day.

This time around, with baby two, I discovered the book On Becoming Baby Wise. My four-week-old son, lovingly dubbed “Number Two,” now wakes up only once or twice a night to “sleep eat” and goes right back down. If only I could shut off and on so easily.

As I contemplate my training schedule for my half marathon in December, I’m wondering how my sleep deficit will affect my endurance. Remember, this is my first race after having babies. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Number Two will be sleeping through the night by mid-July. But how much should I worry about getting that oh-so-impossible eight hours of rest?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Though diet and exercise are critical components of healthy lifestyles, it’s also important to remember that sleep is inherently linked with how we eat (and how much), how we exercise (and whether or not we lose weight), and how we function on a daily basis.” This organization further recommends exercising late in the afternoon, but at least three hours before bedtime.

That’s a nice idea, but I’m not sure they figured in the toddler/new baby variable. Actually, I think most people, with kids or not, just have to get exercise in when they can.

But regardless, I’m going to make getting my zzz’s a top priority. An article in Running TImes has some great information and tips, and it underlines something that all my baby sleep books emphasize — routine is key to a good night’s sleep (read it here).

My sleeping schedule will never be perfect. My kids have put an end to that. But I do know that adequate rest is just as important to my health as diet and exercise.

So, if you have kiddos, do the best you can. Turn off the television and stop facebooking everyone you ever knew after the kids go to bed. And if you don’t have kids, then definitely no whining!

How’s that for some parenting?

This is a guest post by Megan Cox, an Oklahoma City-based novelist, writer and contributing blogger for HalfMarathons.Net. Learn more about Megan at her website.

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