The Fix

Why you should plan a few days be­tween your travel day and your race day

Canadian Running - - CONTENTS - By Alex Cyr


Giv­ing your­self a bit of time to ac­cli­ma­tize to your new sur­round­ings fol­low­ing a flight over­seas is a good idea.

To ques­tion the ef­fec­tive­ness of ev­ery re­cov­ery method known to run­ning may be the theme of the decade. While ice baths, heat ther­apy and stretch­ing keep re­ceiv­ing mixed re­views in re­search, the value of a con­sis­tent sleep pat­tern seems to per­sist. Re­search re­veals links be­tween suf­fi­cient sleep and op­ti­mal per­for­mance, and ev­i­dence for cor­re­la­tions be­tween a con­sis­tent lack of sleep and un­favourable run­ning con­di­tions (such as a lim­ited cog­ni­tive abil­ity and an in­creased risk of in­jury) keep pil­ing up.

But, ques­tions are be­ing raised around the im­por­tance of acute sleep (mean­ing the night be­fore com­pe­ti­tion), and its bear­ing on per­for­mance. Ac­cord­ing to re­search from the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sinMadi­son, the most im­por­tant sleep-re­lated pre­dic­tor of suc­cess on a time-to-ex­haus­tion test was the ra­tio of sleep be­tween the night be­fore the con­test, and one’s reg­u­lar amount of hours slept. Those who slept more than av­er­age on the night be­fore test­ing, un­sur­pris­ingly, per­formed bet­ter than those who slept less than av­er­age on the night be­fore test­ing. Based on this re­sult, run­ners should try to have their best sleep of the month on the night be­fore a race.

But, to have one’s best sleep at the right time proves to be a t all or­der, es­pe­cially when des­ti­na­tion races and i nter­na­tional travel are mixed into the equa­tion. In­deed, re­search out of Charles Sturt Univer­sity in Aus­tralia sug­gests that global travel con­di­tions may be linked to com­pro­mised slum­ber. In a ran­dom­ized cross­over st udy, in­ter nat iona l and do­mes­tic t ravel con­dit ions were sim­u­lated by repli­cat­ing the re­duced ox ygen ava i l abi l it y ex per ienced when f ly­ing at alti­tude, the seat­ing ar­range­ments, and the num­ber of body move­ments t yp­i­cally en­coun­tered dur­ing both types of air travel. In­ter­est in­gly, sleep pat­ter ns var­ied sig nif icant ly bet ween both con­di­tions on the night fol­low­ing t ravel. While no ef­fects of do­mes­tic travel were ev­i­dent in suc­ces­sive bouts of sleep, the qual­ity and quan­tity of sleep of par­tic­i­pants in the in­ter­na­tional t ravel con­di­tion were re­duced, mean­ing world trav­el­ers may be prone to a bad f irst sleep fol­low­ing their f light .

Keep­ing in mind the pos­si­ble im­por­tance of acute sleep on per­for­mance, giv­ing your­self a bit of time to ac­cli­ma­tize to your new sur­round­ings fol­low­ing a f light over­seas is a good idea. The next time you travel to that lon­gawaited ex­otic des­ti­na­tion to lace up, leave as well in ad­vance as you can. Plan your tourism ven­tures for the days be­fore the race – while try­ing your best to limit your in­ter­na­tional del­i­cacy in­take – and give your­self a few days to catch some shut­eye. Alex Cyr is a P.E.I. na­tive who lives and trains in Wind­sor, Ont., and is the au­thor of the run­ning novel, Run­ners of the Nish.

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