Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Secret to Running Better: Nap

Collin enjoyed an Orange Leaf snack with his brothers.

My friend Jessica called me last week oozing with excitement.  She completed her first marathon in a stellar time.  In fact, her finishing time was so good that she qualified for the Boston Marathon.  Her excitement trickled through the phone lines as she described in detail the rolling hills and her experiences with fellow runners.  We ended our conversation with her encouraging me to also qualify for the Boston Marathon so we could run it together in the spring.

I ran a marathon once and afterwards promised myself I'd never do it again.  I was 25, single, childless and completely exhausted by the training.  Reflecting back on that experience made me wonder how I could possibly think it was a good idea to add that sort of commitment to an already full schedule.

As I mulled over my friend's invitation, I solicited the advice of another running friend and mom of four.  She quickly said, "You can do it.  You just need to nap."

That's her advice?  I was thinking she was going to recommend a great marathon training program or suggest a certain running diet.



I vaguely remember naps.  I think the last one I took was in 2004 shortly after my second son was born.  I recall how deeply engrained naps were in our daily routine.  Whatever we were doing, we'd rush home around 1 p.m. and I'd tuck two little babies into bed and then snuggle under my own duvet.  I'd wake up an hour later, refreshed and ready to tackle the needs of two little ones.

By the time baby number three came, mommy naps became a thing of the past.  Getting three kids on a consistent nap routine became a challenge.  Even the rare days when all three slumbered in tandem, I squeezed every last minute out of nap time (folding laundry, washing dishes, making meals, and on and on).  I was certainly productive...and cranky..and sleepy...and living on caffeine.

Since then, I've never considered resuming naps.  Who has time for naps, I've thought.  But just maybe my friend has a point.  Maybe taking at least a half an hour out of the day to rest and regroup can actually stretch my time and make the day flow by in a more pleasant fashion, even make my runs faster.

Today, I snuggled under the covers for 20 minutes.  I emerged from my bed with a smile and declared my running friend a genius.

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