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Late night dinner in the western Queensland town of
Cloncurry while trying to break the round Australia
record in 2007
The problem with Thursdays is, that after getting up early to supervise the 6:00am Terrigal Trotters track session at The Haven, I eat late and get to bed late after supervising the 6:00pm track session at Adcock Park in Gosford.  (I'm not complaining about the track sessions.  I find them rewarding and it's a way for me to pay back with a bit of volunteering after a working career during which my volunteering was minimal.)

As I get older, it seems I like my sleep more.  If golf is scheduled for early Friday morning, as it often is, I get very tired and start to dread the early starts that follow on Saturday and Sunday.

Crossing the Atherton Tableland in the Northern Territory
during the 2008 attempt to break the round Australia record

I'm sure that all serious runners think about the amount of sleep they get and regret that they don't get more.  Earlier in my running career, I envied the full-time athletes who had nothing to do all day but train and sleep and figured this could be a key factor in their success.  I also used to get stressed if I could not get a good night's sleep before a big race.

However, as I have aged, my views on sleep have become more relaxed.  I now don't worry if I get insufficient sleep the night before a big race.  Instead, I try and get a few good nights' sleep in the week before and just take what I can get the night before.  Often you are sleeping in a strange place or maybe sharing accommodation and subject to the night routine of others.  Despite a lack of sleep, I have found the adrenalin, excitement and atmosphere of race day is enough to get you up mentally for the race.  The last thing you need to be worrying about is a sleepless night.  Once the race starts, you tend to forget all about it.

Taking a break in the Northern Territory during the 2009
attempt to break the round Australia record
The other thing I have learned is that I can survive on a lot less sleep than I would like.  During my working career, I averaged a little over six hours per night, but functioned fine so long as I was doing something.  If I sat still in a presentation or lecture, or on a plane, I was prone to go to sleep, but if I kept working I was fine.  The real sleep test for me came during my three failed attempts to break the record for riding a bike solo and unsupported around Australia.  I soon learned that success was as much a function of being able to operate on little sleep as it was on cycling prowess.  Almost all nights were limited to four to five hours sleep, with 1:00am starts, 300 kilometre days, and occasional brief cat-naps during the day if I became too tired to continue.  I was amazed at what my body could do if tested, though if you consider the privations of, say, soldiers in the trenches during the First World War, my efforts were modest.

The lesson for me about sleep is that you should get as much as you can, but not sweat it if you run short.  So long as you are motivated, you can keep going on minimal sleep.

Not wanting to leave today's run until after the morning golf game, I got myself up at 4:30am and squeezed in a slow 5km around Copa in the early morning half light.  My right Achilles was quite painful and my pace was slow, but I do feel I'm moving more freely.  It's the monthly Terrigal Trotters 10km Time Trial tomorrow, and I would like to run a reasonable time, but am trying to avoid any expectations.  I feel that my overall fitness is at about 75% of where I would like to be, and this is unlikely to translate into a good 10km time.