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Insomnia & Mystery Pain – It Must Be Race Week!

This weekend, I’ll be returning to Hyannis to run my first race of 2012. And until this past Monday, I hadn’t actually given much thought to the race at all. In fact, I sort of forgot that it was coming up so quickly. I signed up for the Hyannis Half awhile ago because I had such a great time there last year and figured it could be a fun race to mix up my training a bit.

But, since I haven’t really been thinking about it, I haven’t actually done anything specific to prepare. I haven’t changed my training and haven’t exactly been the picture of health when it comes to my eating habits this week either. Instead, I just kept telling myself that there was no reason to be nervous or stressed about the race at all, because the plan was (is) to do it as a training run.

But we all know how good I am about making a race into training run <sarcasm>. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I will admit that I want to run this race fast – or faster than last year, at least. Last year I ran this half through the snow, while battling a really bad cold and nasty congestion. I wasn’t expecting to do anything spectacular, and ended up with a new PR. A PR that still stands to this day.

hyannis half_group

Granted, I don’t do too many half marathons, and all of them have been in the midst of training for something else. But if I can run a 1:33:07 while sick, reason goes to show that I should be able to run faster when I’m not sick. It hasn’t happened yet, though. Either I’m not so great at racing half marathons, or my secret to success is racing while sick.

Anyway – I hadn’t really been paying attention to any of those thoughts swirling around my head. I’ve actually been refusing to acknowledge any and all thoughts about the race. You know…because denial is always the best pre-race strategy.

But then this week – the problems started. Insomnia and mysterious foot/ankle pain. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe (just maybe) I’m a bit more nervous about this half marathon than I’ve allowed myself to admit.

The insomnia thing is nothing new. Sleep and I have always had a troubled relationship. I’m not the type of person that can fall asleep anytime and anywhere without problem. I often have trouble sleeping anywhere besides my own bed, and go through phases a couple of times each year where sleep becomes more difficult than a 20-mile run. It stops coming natural and starts feeling like work. Of course, the cruel irony is that the more you stress about not being able to fall alseep, the harder it is to do so. I try to tell myself that lying in bed, thinking about how I’m never going to be able to fall asleep isn’t exactly doing myself any favors. But I repeat the cycle every night anyway. Instead of letting my body drift off, my brain somehow thinks that if it works hard enough, it can will my body to sleep. Because that makes a whole lot of sense, right?

I suppose here is where I should have a few bullet points to tell you what healthy things I’ll be doing for the next couple nights to make sure I get enough rest before Sunday. But honestly? I’m 99.9% sure there’s going to be some Nyquil in my very near future. Yes, it’s that bad.

Which brings me to the foot pain. On Monday, I noticed some pain in the arch of my foot and my ankle. It didn’t seem awful (feels like it’s bruised…although there’s no actual bruise that I can see), so I kept my run really short and figured I could stretch/roll and be good as new the next day. Except I wasn’t. And like the smart stubborn runner that I am, I kept running on it anyway. You know, because if you run 8 miles easy instead of at the prescribed tempo pace, the pain will obviously go away. Right??

Yesterday, I finally came to my senses. Obviously continuing to run on something that hurts with every step (and especially when I take right turns…which I seem to do a lot. I think I need to start running in the opposite direction) is not good. And it certainly won’t help me race well on Sunday. So, despite the fact that yesterday was probably the nicest day of the year so far, I did not run. Instead, I took Koli for a 2.0 mile walk after work.

IMG_0878.JPGThis is not from yesterday’s walk. But it is my dog.

Just kidding! I actually have no idea how far we walked. The point is, though, that I walked. I did not run. And last night I crossed my fingers and went to sleep (or at least attempted to), hoping the pain would be gone in the morning.

As you may have guessed…it’s not. I know I can’t be frustrated that things aren’t completely better after one day of rest, but since I don’t know what is causing the problems in the first place, it’s hard not to be. The plan for now is to cross train today and hope to take it on a short test run tomorrow. And if all else fails…that’s why they make ibuprofen, right? (Kidding!! ….kind of).

So those are my jumbled pre-race thoughts. No calm inspirational message…just focusing on trying not to freak myself out too much. I know that the tougher I am going in mentally, the better the race will be. And at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun. Yes, I want to do well, but this isn’t a race that I’ve been working really hard toward for months on end. No matter what happens, there will be other races. And plenty of time to chase down that half marathon PR.

Now if I could just get some sleep….

Honestly – if you have any great sleep tips that don’t involve knocking myself out with nighttime cold medication, please share!


19 Responses to Insomnia & Mystery Pain – It Must Be Race Week!

  1. Sorry your foot hurts! Boo!!

    When I can’t sleep, I lay down and focus on deep breathes (like yoga). Every time I think about something else, I go back to focusing on my breath. The deep breathes relaxes my body and I usually do fall asleep.

    Good luck!
    Brittany´s last post ..Meaning of Love

  2. I wish I had some falling asleep tips for you. I sometimes have a hard time falling asleep and I don’t like to lie in bed awake so I just stay up until I’m really tired. I never have trouble sleeping in in the morning. Hope your foot feels better!! It’s scary how many people seem kind of injured:( good luck this weekend!!

  3. We seem to have the same injury and sleep patterns!

    I’ve been struggling with the same symptoms you describe in my feet and ankles (started in one foot, ended up in both because *ahem* I didn’t rest). ‘Bruised’ is just how I’d characterise it, and it tends to throb a lot even when I’m not putting weight on my feet. I think it’s severely inflamed tendons but it’s such a literal and figurative pain – it’s been going on since December 2011!

    I also have periods of insomnia so I empathise a lot with that. My record was six days of literally 0 hours of sleep. I only wish I was joking.

    I hope you manage to get some shut-eye!
    ~Jessica~´s last post ..WIAW – Supersize Me Salad?

  4. I tend to be an insomniac sometimes too… I go for 1 Advil PM and a glass of wine :-) I guess the wine is optional, but it helps me relax too… and I only take 1 of the Advils to avoid having that groggy sleep fog the next day that sometimes accompanies those sleep aids taken in full dosage.

    Good luck at the race! I have been running on Plantar Fasciitis for a few months now too…but I finally went to PT, and she didn’t say I needed to stop running… so that justifies my stubborn refusal to rest prior to going in. Find a very runner friendly PT. They get it. :-)

  5. When I’ve suffered from insomnia in the past melatonin is usually enough to get me to fall asleep. Take 1-2 pills about 15-20 minutes before bed and it’ll help you begin to feel sleepy enough to fall asleep (hopefully). Find it at CVS or the like, usually by the vitamins.

    A non-pill method: pour yourself a glass of water and say – outloud – “I will fall asleep quickly and sleep through the night.” Then drink the entire glass of water and go immediately to bed – no reading, watching TV, etc. It has to be the very last thing you do before you go to sleep. If you can’t drink a whole glass of water, fill the glass with as much water as you can drink (I’d recommend about a half a glass, more than one gulp). A psych prof taught me this in college – no clue why or how it works, but it does!

    Sweet dreams!
    Courtney´s last post ..Two Weeks in Review

  6. Who are those pretty girls in that photo? They look really cool.

    I used to LOVE Nyquil when I couldn’t fall asleep. But no drugs for me now. And I have insomnia all the time now. Wake up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night then I’m up for hours. Maybe we should play words with friends in the middle of the night? Thoughts? haha

    Take care of yourself today and tomorrow and save up energy for that PR on Sunday. Wish I was going to be there to support you. Can you believe it’s been a year since we met already? Is that when we first met???
    LIZZY´s last post ..Three Things Thursday

  7. Sorry about the pain! I had a similar combination of problems a while back – trouble sleeping + pain in my ankle. Turns out it was related. While I was tossing I would end up crossing my legs, with one foot pressing down on the other, stretching the ankle. Probably not your issue, but I thought I’d throw it out there just in case.

  8. I struggle with not being able to sleep sometimes, too, and I get stressed about feeling like “I NEED to fall asleep at this very moment or I won’t get enough sleep!!!” etc etc. One thing that sometimes works for me (it’s hard, though) is to just focus on keeping my mind blank and not thinking about anything. It is so so hard, but the moment you can focus on the darkness with your eyes closed and turn your mind off (it will wander, but just bring it back to blankness) you will probably fall asleep. Good luck!!
    Lizzie´s last post ..Free Refills…Gelato Version

  9. I read REALLY boring books and tell myself that’s all I can think about. For instance, still have an old chemistry book, that thing puts me to sleep in like 5 minutes. I’m weird though!

  10. Insomnia…I’m sure someone has mentioned it but melatonin is amazing stuff….but only if you get a higher dose pill…and I have to pair it with Magnesium for it to work. Without the Magnesium it just doesn’t seem to work as well. (Also, throwing in a Zinc at night of 50mg, also, helps me sleep really well).

    Ankle pain….ouchie! Praying your ankle heals quickly! I’m dealing with Achilles tendon pain in my right heel. Was tight yesterday after my super short run (I’m a newbie and C25King) so I stretched today really really well…and it was hurting/tight again so I’m thinking of taking a few days off but still stretching a ton.

    Hope you have relief soon!
    Jolene (Homespun Heritage)´s last post ..~*Pictures: What We Wait For*~

  11. Yikes, sorry to hear about your insomnia & foot issues. I wish I had the magic cure, beyond popping some Ambien :) Turning off all the lights, not looking at the clock, and focusing on breathing deeply sometimes helps me when I’m not getting any closer to sleep and my mind is racing 100000 miles a minute.

    Good luck at the race! Can’t wait to hear how you do.
    Lindsay´s last post ..Cherry Tree 10 Miler & Cut Back Week

  12. This may sound dumb … but I use running. I have major insomnia problems from stress. So I clear my mind by focusing as hard as possible on the beginning of my last run, and then try to think of many details as possible about each part of that run from that point forward. When I find my mind has wandered to something else, or too far forward in the run, I return to where I left off and try to remember details. It almost always works after 10 to 15 minutes, unless I’m just too stressed out. Good luck in the half!

  13. Why are our bodies revolting against us?? Don’t they know we have a marathon to run in about seven weeks?? (Not that I’m freaking out or anything, no, not at all…) Hope the race went well!

    Gah, sleep…another subject I don’t want to talk about! I have black out shades and an eye mask, although I’m not sure that’s the help you need. :) Sometimes when I’m not quiet tired yet, I start reading a book…and definitely stay awake from tv/computer/iphone before bed! Sometimes sleepytime tea helps too.
    Susan´s last post ..love/hate

  14. I’m so sorry your foot hurts! I’ve never had any stress fractures, but with any foot/ankle pain I’ve ever had, really trying to mobilize the ankle joint and move all the muscles in the foot seems to help.

    Unfortunately, I have no sleep tips. When I can’t sleep, I take “simply sleep” – it is what’s in tylenol pm just without the tylenol. One time I couldn’t sleep and I downloaded a bunch of soothing music and stuff. That did actually seem to help.

    Good luck – both with the foot and sleeping!
    Meggie´s last post ..Adventures in Acupuncture and Elliptigo-ing

  15. oh man, sorry to hear about your foot/ankle! I know how frustrating that is. At least you’re trying to nip it in the bud now before it gets worse! Right? I hope it’s feeling better by now and that you had/have a good race.

    Hmm sleep. Turn off all technology 30 minutes before bed and read – that always calms my mind down a bit. I also have an awesome sound machine that sounds like rain and is really relaxing. Like $15 at bed bath and beyond!
    Kelly´s last post ..new shoes.

  16. You are smart. That’s the only thing you can say in a rightly disappointing time such as this. Oh, and that the pain of not-doing some crummy February race<<< the pain of being sidelined in April or May with a persistent injury.

    But you knew that. What you didn't know is how mightily I LOL'd at the 2.0 mile walk. So I thought I'd let you know.

  17. Omg! I was totally going to run that race but I decided against it. Now I wish that I was going to run it.
    Rena @ milehogger.blogspot.com´s last post ..# Winning

  18. I have trouble falling asleep too! Sometimes I literally can’t stop my mind from racing, which obviously keeps me awake. I start to envision myself running on my favorite trail or PRing a race and I usually end up falling asleep to that, as cheesy as it sounds, haha.

    I’m sure you’ve heard that not watching TV or exposing yourself to too much “light” before bed helps regulate your melatonin levels (or something like that!)
    Kara´s last post ..Kansas, Mizzou, and the Greatest College Basketball Rivalry

  19. I suffered from debilitating insomnia for a long time and after 6 months sought help for it. My dr had me keep a journal logging highs/lows for the day – than rank my day on a scale of 1-20, hours of sleep and also ranking the quality of my sleep. After a month he charted the rankings to find correlations and we were able to identify what was causing my insomnia, then worked on resolving those issues. It worked and whenever I start to have sleep problems again, I go back to this exercise.

    That being said, lavender oil also helps with actually falling asleep, as well as soothing sore muscles.

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