Category Archives: Hormones

Recover better to perform better

4-Sleep-Strategies-for-Athletes

Recovery

You’ve heard it before, but recovery is a critical part of your training. If you are aiming to improve in triathlon, then you need to make recovery a focus. If you don’t, then training will be, stop start, frustrating, and can make you ill.

There are many ways of recovering, but one which often goes by the wayside when people are trying to fit in training, and a full time job, is sleep. You may try and cram in a session late in the day, and this can affect your sleep for the night, then you may want to get up early to “fit in” a swim, already you are compromising your recovery for these sessions.

So what actually happens when you sleep?

Recovery

Your body releases growth hormones.

These hormones help your body to increase muscle growth, you need to get sufficient sleep for this to happen. If you are sleep deprived your body also produces the hormone cortisol, which can break muscle down.

Your body repairs itself.

When you do a training session your muscles get damaged and get micro tears in them. When you are sleeping your body can repair the damage, this is how muscle grows and rebuilds, making you stronger.

Your metabolism stabilises

If you are sleep deprived, then your blood sugar levels are not regulated as well, and this can cause weight gain, as your body fails to respond to carbohydrate ingestion. You may still feel hungry, even when you have eaten a normal meal.

What can I do?

So, what can you do about it? It’s important to go through all the stages of sleep for adaptations to happen. If you are not getting enough regular sleep (around 7-8 hours, maybe more!) then you need to identify why this is happening. Is it because you are trying to do too much? You may be better off scaling some sessions back, or looking to re-prioritise a few things. Think about what is essential, desirable, or could be removed from your daily routine. It may be that you are spending too much time in front of a screen or bright light before bed, there are many studies to show that this impacts the quality of your sleep and your ability to get to sleep. More on this here

Addressing these things, can help you to create habits which are not only beneficial for your training adaptation, but also for your overall wellbeing.

 

 

 

An unexpected result

An easy week

After last weeks mini holiday, it was back to it. Luckily I had an easy week planned as there was the washing, shopping, and general catch up that you need after going away. I had also entered Pembrokeshire coast Triathlon at Broadhaven at the weekend so it meant I would have a bit of a rest before the race.

I had a great bike session on Tuesday. I had been thinking on my previous long ride that I tend to get a bit lazy towards the end of a ride and start dropping the watts, so when I was at the side of the road checking my bike for creaks, and a man flew past asking if I was OK I thought I would see if I could catch him!

I was near the end of my ride so it was ideal for me to push a bit more than usual. It became apparent that I was catching him on the ups and then he was pulling away slightly on the downs. I managed to reel him in after Yerbeston, on the Ironman course, we got chatting and it was someone whose name I had seen on strava (Dave Swan if you’re curious!) I turned off at Molleston and left him to complete the rest of the Ironman loop.

You can see my increase in power at about 2 and a half hours in!

You can see my increase in power at about 2 and a half hours in!

Still getting the power dropouts, but have sent my power meter back, again…I may write a post about that bit of kit someday! Had a long run on Thursday and was surprised to see that my running has improved again!

A similar run last year and my run this week

A similar run last year and my run this week

Cancelled my swim session on Friday, as I was feeling a bit fed up with the pool and I didn’t want to do another session for the sake of it. On Saturday I raced Broadhaven and won! That was a real surprise, I knocked 5 minutes of my previous time, so I was obviously very pleased with that! Full race report is here.

Comparison between the years

Comparison between the years

I still need to do some work on programming myself to believe that I am a strong swimmer, as it was always my weak sport, so, in my subconscious, I still think I am not good, but the last 2 races I have done I have had pretty good swim times. Must keep that in mind :-)

Look away now if you don’t want to read about hormones, and periods!

One thing men don’t have to worry about too much is how their hormones affect them during races, they pretty much have the same cycle of hormones every day ( high testosterone in the morning, which drops off during the day and is lowest in the evening) This is also affected by their actions, e.g. racing will produce a rise in testosterone, read more about this here.

Women, as you will know have varying hormones throughout the month, so at times all we really want to do is sleep all the time, when at other times of the month we are outgoing and confident, this corresponds to our cycle. I have been doing a bit of research on this, as I find it quite interesting. There is a lot more detail on hormone horoscope, which I find really helps me to deal with moods and how I feel certain times of the month!

The female cycle

The female cycle

The reason I am writing about this is that my period was due on the week of Broadhaven and all week I was worrying about when it would start, and whether I would have to deal with it on race day. I looked at a couple of forums, and found a post by a man who said don’t worry about it, chances are nobody will care, or notice, just wear some black shorts and get on with it. This relaxed me quite a bit, and I also mentioned to Patrick the night before, that the last time I had my period on a race I won!

I didn’t get my period until after the race but I still find it really interesting, as I am about a kilo heavier in the week before I start my period, so you would think that my performance would be worse. You would also think that there would be loads of interesting research on this, but I’m not sure if there is or where to find it. I did read Victoria Pendleton’s book and she mentioned that she always seemed to have her period on competition days. Maybe its time we started taking it into consideration, it is a massive part of women’s lives, but seems like people don’t really want to talk about it, although with online forums maybe people are starting to discuss more topics like this.

I did find some useful information here, which I recommend to anyone interested in how hormones affect your training and performance.