10 Things Successful Runners Do Every Night Before Bed

After they figure out the details for the next day’s workout, they give their minds a rest.

Cindy Kuzma |

While the details of their nocturnal rituals may vary, serious runners say their evenings are dedicated to one primary goal: Setting themselves up mentally and physically to run their best the next day – and for the long term. Here’s how they do it:

1. They Zone Out.

There’s a time and a place detailed race visualisations. But many pro runners spend their evenings entertaining themselves with non-running-related content such as watching series or a movie.

2. They work out the kinks.

Of course, these runners can’t put their type-A tendencies completely to rest, even when they’re winding down. Many combine their leisure pursuits with recovery techniques.

Spend 10 to 15 minutes on tighter body spots such as tight hamstrings – and if you hits a particularly troublesome spot, grab a tennis ball to dig deeper. (Foam Rolling? Do It Right by Avoiding These 10 Mistakes)

3. They text their training partners for long runs.

Natasha LaBeaud Anzures logs 210 kilometres a week on top of a full-time job in public relations and operating a non-profit running program for kids. Her husband/training partner also trains at a high level while working as a professor and coach at San Diego City College.

The Anzureses run easy together in the evenings and train hard as a pair most mornings. But for long runs on Sundays, they enjoy having a bit more company, and rally up their friends for a run.

4. They fill in their training logs.

After dinner, the Anzureses spend time tracking their training. In her paper planner log, Natasha Anzures notes race dates and physical therapy appointments, then composes a paragraph outlining what happened during that day’s workouts while it’s fresh in her mind.

She adorns especially good days with huge smiley faces and sketches sad faces or storm clouds for challenging sessions. And she keeps past years’ logs on a shelf, where she can easily refer to them later.

“I’ve found typically talking about any small things that may be bothering me, whether that’s nerves about a workout that’s coming up or or anticipating for a race – fleshing them out in that time has been effective, that way they’re not interfering with my sleep,” she says. “And we need to maximise sleep, as much as we can.”

5. They sleep in their running clothes…

Every early-morning runner has been there – the frantic search in the dark for matching socks or a clean sports bra that makes you late to meet your training partners (or even miss your run altogether).

Elites aren’t immune from these struggles, or to the temptation to crawl back in bed at the first hint of an obstacle. “Everyone still has days where you’re just tired and you don’t really want to move,” says 24-year-old Joanna Thompson – an Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier. She solves this by hitting the hay in running shorts and a moisture-wicking shirt, especially when it’s warm out. “It saves time – and then I don’t really have to think too much,” she says.

6. …or at least set them out.

Even those who prefer pajamas at least make sure their training or racing supplies are in order before lights-out. “I like to have my clothes laid out for the next day’s training prior to bed and my bag packed for the track or other workout – it’s comforting to know I will be ready to roll in the morning,” Flanagan says.

And for most runners, that goes double for races. “I always have my uniform ready, watch charged, and flats packed; this helps keep anxiety on race morning to a minimum,” she says. Milam, too, spends a few minutes in his hotel room to get his gear organised, including pinning his race bib to his jersey.

7. They fret over the forecast.

Elite marathoner Luke Puskedra lives in Eugene, Oregon, but is currently spending time in Flagstaff, Arizona, training at altitude. At over 2,000 metres of elevation, the winds can often build to a blustery 65 kilometres per hour by late morning, he says. So he eyeballs the weather the night before a long run to see if he should start a little earlier than planned.

8. They premix their rocket fuel.

On workout and race days, coffee may give you that little extra burst of energy, and get you excited and focused for the race ahead.

9. They reconnect with their families.

Earlier in his running career, Puskedra, now 27, believed he had to stay highly focused at every waking moment. As a result, he often wound up overtraining and peaking weeks ahead of time. “Seasons have ended because of that – I’ve shot myself in the foot because I was ready too early,” he says.

Puskedra now keeps his training days regimented. “Repetition is my favourite, that’s where I’m most comfortable,” he says. But after 5 p.m, he does his best to stop micromanaging and turns his attention to the role of husband and father.

10. They take a few deep breaths.

Most runners have the ultimate challenge of turning your brain off and simply relaxing.

To drift off more easily, take some time, maybe put in earplugs to silence distractions, then takes several slow, centering breaths. By taking a few deep belly breaths, you will calm both body and my mind and prepare for body for sleep”.

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