Having The Courage to Rest


You are either lining up for a full ironman, half ironman, fondo or recovering from an injury over the next couple of weeks. Or you are simply within an important training block in your season.  Over the next couple weeks, take time to focus on impactful ways to improve your bodies ability to perform when it counts.

For those of you racing in the next 6-14 days, resist the urge to constantly test yourself.  Always keep a little in reserve, mentally and physically.  Avoid max effort situations, if you make a mistake then do a little less, go a little easier.  It is far better to arrive a little too fresh than to find one’s self tired.

I was listening to an old youtube on the weekend with a prominent ironman legend and self-less experimenter in the ultra endurance world (Gordo Byrn). He made a few “rest” statements that not only struck the group of athletes he was speaking to but also prompted me to write each of you. 

In general, but especially in the last couple of weeks before a big event (or while you recover from an injury),  every athlete will benefit from finding a way to average 30 minutes or more of sleep per night versus trying to find room for an extra or harder training session. In other words, get more out of the work you are currently doing by showing up to the sessions fresher and more recovered. As it relates to racing and performing, optimal sleeping patterns and amounts will bring out both your athletic ability as well as your cognitive ability to make critical decisions, maintain perspective and operate at a significantly higher level for longer periods of time. We all want that.

If you were to ask some of the top performers (in any field), I suspect they have healthy sleep hygiene and that making sleep a priority was the one key difference in their success. The training and hard work stays the same but the ability to recover and grow is the game changer. Those who do not have good sleeping routines will ultimately not sustain their current level of output. It’s simply fact.

Here’s what I notice, after a couple days of compromised sleep, I am not only terrible at training, I am terrible at life. 

When I know that all I need to do is add sleep, I give myself 10-14days of extended mattress time and when possible, wake without an alarm. Life looks completely different when our bodies are rested and nourished. 

For two weeks, I invite you all to try:

- going to bed 10…20…30 minutes earlier.

- darken your room completely.

- avoid iPhones for at least 60-120minutes before bed.

- leave iPhone out of the bedroom.

- visualize the body completely relaxing into a sleep state.

- if and when possible, wake without an alarm.

At the same time, notice if you like people a little more, if your patience grows, if you start to welcome challenges in a new light, if you start to look forward to sleep more than you used to and if holding a healthy and positive perspective seems a bit easier (in the grand scheme of things).