The secret to going fast

I love sleep.

And it’s a good thing because I also aspire to speed on the bike.

According to Bicycling magazine, sleep is key to speed.

Here’s the tl;dr version:

“Extending sleep time can improve endurance performance, according to the first study of its kind published in
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The study found that cyclists who extended their sleep time by 90 minutes for three days improved cycling endurance performance by 3 percent in a 60-minute time trial.

The researchers recommend sleeping more than 8 hours a night to optimize endurance performance.”

It’s low hanging fruit when it comes to performance. There’s nothing magic about it. Just go to bed early and log more than eight hours of zzzz’s.

One of the challenges of training as one ages is recovery. You need more time to recover between workouts. Too much exercise just wears your body down without time to rebuild and make gains in speed and strength. The answer: rest days, yes, but also sleep.

Being well rested helps when it comes to keeping up with the youngsters. I’ve done lots of multi stage riding where at the end of day one, after dinner, the young people have drinks and stay up late. The over 40 set head to bed. The younger riders might have been faster on Day 1. Come day 2 we’re more evenly matched. That’s been true on charity rides, bike tours, and spring bike camp.

The one downside? Time. If you’re like me you’re working out lots while trying to do all the usual stuff: buy groceries, watch the occasional show, read the occasional book, walk the dog, attend family events, see friends, etc. You’re tempted to cut corners when it comes to sleep. Just don’t.

My particular challenge this summer, since I’m getting to with my son for his early starting summer job at 5:30 am, is going to bed early enough. I don’t always manage and there’s been some napping going on to catch up on sleep. It’s hard to go to bed while it’s still light!

High performance athletes sleep a lot, many logging more than nine hours a night.

How about you? What’s your sleep schedule? Do you get more than 8 hours a night?

3 thoughts on “The secret to going fast

  1. I’m up at 5 AM every week day for a 9.5 hour workday, and then run or ride after work. If I didn’t have a spouse to help with the dog and cooking chores, I’d have to fit those into the day too. As a 50 year old, I notice the effects of the loss of sleep on the workouts – it’s only on weekends when I’m getting more sleep that I suddenly can run 8 miles instead of 4, or ride 50+ miles without feeling like crap. There is really nothing that I can do about it at this point – there are simply not enough hours in the day. I feel immensely sorry for all those people my age who are still struggling to pay off student debts and have to work even more than me, and raise children. Us Americans have mostly unsustainable lifestyles. It’s really only the wealthy who can afford the luxury of sleep and engage in competitive multisport successfully.

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