A couple of weeks ago I made a conscious effort to get more sleep. I took a couple of evenings away from my computer (twitter break) and read, watched a little TV but most importantly went to bed early. That weekend after 3 really good sleeps in a row I had one of my best performances on a bike all year.
I felt strong the whole ride, did some good climbing and was even able to push on during the last 10kms. It was a terrific day out and one that reminds you how great cycling is. I’ve been training reasonably consistently for the last couple of months but I really think getting plenty of sleep made a big difference.
The last 10 days has given me a good counterpoint that has reinforced my view. Over the last 10 days, I’ve typically not slept well at all. I’ve had a series of nights where I’ve not gone to bed to well into the early hours of the morning and sometimes even then I’ve only slept fitfully. I’ve had probably one really good sleep in 10 days up till yesterday.
During that time I’ve done too reasonably challenging but not killer rides and I’ve struggled more and more. The ride on Saturday looked ok on face value but honestly, I felt like I was working hard. My heart rate was up, I didn’t feel as strong and my legs felt heavier.
Yesterday I “needed” to do another 60-ish kms to hit 600 for the month. Whilst I had slept well the night before the ride I felt tired from when I woke up (not surprisingly perhaps given the above).
I tried to take it fairly easy for the first half hour of the ride but that was all into a headwind, which didn’t help particularly. When I got to the first climb I gave things a push a long but when I crested the first section I felt I had nothing left. I’d taken a caffeine gel before I left in the hope of it helping and maybe it did a little. But the remainder of the climb I found incredibly hard. My heart rate was up in the top end of zone 5 and I was crawling along. I even thought seriously about getting off and having a rest.
At the top of the climb the road I had been planning to take was closed, which was fantastic as it would have led me to another decent section of climbing. Being forced to take a slightly easier route from there helped me a lot but I still found it a hard ride.
This is not a scientific test by any means but I genuinely believe that good sleep (quantity and quality) is really important to riding well. I thought this for several years but the last few weeks have to me, illustrated it quite clearly.
Get some sleep – you’ll ride much better.
Thanks for reading