Monday, July 6, 2009


The tour is off and rolling, with my prologue picks ending up somewhat suspect (sure, I picked the winner, but who didn't have Fabian Cancellara?). I didn't count on Tony Martin blowing the doors off or Roman Kruzeiger having such a great ride. The tour is now into its traditional first week sprinter's parade before we get to the first mountain stage. The first week of the tour provides great final seconds, but the run-up to the line usually consists of long breakaways, disinterested pelotons, and, in the words of's live reporter, "not a whole lot of action."

I'll take this lull in an interesting sport to return to triathlon for a few days and the particular importance of sleep. I wrote a piece for Cyclocross Magazine recently on the comeback of Alison Dunlap to the professional cyclocross circuit. Alison is a gifted athlete, no doubt, with 12 total national championships to her name and a world title on the fat-tire bicycle. Her greatest limiter? "Sleep," says her coach Jay Gump (weirdly, I know Jay pretty well from my time kicking around the Pioneer Valley; he runs Incline Training in Greenfield, MA, and has a lot to say about triathletes and how we can better take care of ourselves and our equipment). "Alison's most important workout, out of all her threshold workouts and sprints, is the '10PM' workout. She has to turn the lights out a 10PM and go to bed. No work, no internet, only recreational reading." Jay is a great coach ("He's a genius," Dunlap says) and we could all listen to his holistic approach. In my little work with him, he's counseled me to worry less about things like body composition ("some body fat will help you recover, stave off injury, and race for longer periods of time, so don't try to get down to, like, 3%!" he says) and worry more about focusing on having fun and getting rest. We all put in the training, but many of us eschew the little parts of racing, like changing our chains on time (more from Jay about this in a later post), getting proper rest, doing yoga, and eating correctly.

I just finished up a big week for me: 25 total hours of training, 40 miles of running, 225 miles on the bike, and 15K in the pool (that should have been higher, but the prologue party kept Amy and me out of the water Saturday morning). Complicating things was the fact that I wasn't getting great sleep (my sister was pregnant to bursting this weekend, and that plus moving concerns tended to flood my REM time over the past few days). Last night Ame and I hit the sack at, get this, 7:30. Yes, the sun was still high in the sky. We slept until around 7 this morning (Amy also put in a big week, finding about 20 hours of training while still doing her full time job). Today is the traditional athlete's holiday, with only about 2K in the pool on the schedule for both of us. We're both racing this coming weekend, so sleep at this point is the training priority—you can't make any more hay at this point, but you can make the hay you've got better hay (I'm reaching, perhaps, with that metaphor). So our goal for this week? 9 hours of sleep a night, ten if possible.

A final note: I've added a sponsor this past week: Newton Running. I've worked with Newton before, but now I've got a real deal with them. I've run my fastest 70.3 runs in Newtons, and like the effect they have on my gait (a little shorter, a bit more efficient). I'll have reports on their various models as I try them out over the next few months.

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