One of the biggest struggles since becoming a Mom is balancing my training schedule with unpredictable sleep patterns. At almost 2, my toddler doesn’t have a cohesive sleep schedule and I’m the parent who is responsible for putting him back to bed every time. He’ll go through phases of sleeping through the night, but it’s usually interrupted again by restless nights.
But, when sleepless nights collide with race mornings, the end result can be an entirely different race than planned. Your body is naturally exhausted before the race begins and your mind can be foggy.
For me, PR’s are 60% circumstantial and the rest is training. The stars seem to align when a PR happens for me. It’s usually partly cloudy with no humidity, I’ve had a full night’s sleep and my nutrition is on mark. When one of those doesn’t happen, it’s no PR! But a bad night’s sleep is the absolute worst.
If you’re like me, since you’ve already forked out $80+ for a half marathon, you still want to run it. Check out my best tips to running a race, without looking like a zombie, on little to no sleep…
Tips for Running a Race on Little or No Sleep:
- Wake up a little early. It sounds like a contradiction, but when I wake up a few minutes early it gives me time to wake my body up with some light stretches without feeling rushed to get out of the house.
- Drink something with caffeine. If you’re a coffee lover, have cup or 2 before you go. It’s worth the extra bathroom stops along the course so you feel more alert.
- Put everything out the night before. If you know you’ll have a bad night’s sleep, like you’re a new mom, try to put everything out the night before so you are organized for the race before you wake up. Clothes, shoes, tech and any other essentials need to be organized prior to bed.
- Have a plan of action with your partner. I am usually the one who takes care of my son in the middle of the night, but I’ll ask my husband for help if I have an important race the next morning.
- Don’t think about it. Dwelling on the fact that you got little or no sleep isn’t going to help. Think of a positive mantra that will help you feel energized and repeat it throughout the race.
- Know when to call it. Yes, this whole post is about how to run a race without sleep. But there comes a time when you’re so exhausted that you just need to be a “DNS” (Did Not Start). I’d pick this option if you’ll put yourself at risk for injury due to exhaustion or you can’t event drive to the race start. One time I missed a 10k because I was too tired to even drive myself to the race. In the grand scheme of things, it won’t make a big difference.
I hope this list helps a new Mom who is trying to get back into running or somebody who struggles with insomnia. Running can be a hard sport when you already wake up feeling tired and exhausted.