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Are you ready for The City of Nottingham Triathlon? We are!

Are you ready for The City of Nottingham Triathlon? We are!

On the 2nd September at The Victoria Embankment, 600 athletes will begin their Triathlon journey; the event will include a 300m pool swim, a 12km bike ride and a 3km run.

Here are some of Nick’s top triathlon tips:

The pre-race tips:

Forget the number ‘8’:

So many people assume 8 is the number of hours they need to sleep each night. They couldn’t be more wrong. We count in 90-minute cycles and we aim to get at least 5 of those cycles each night, resulting in 7.5 hours of sleep. Within those ninety minutes, we experience 5 stages of sleep. The thing is, they don’t all have to be done in one block at night. I work with athletes that have four cycles at night and then one or two during the day.

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The cycles can be planned or it can be adjusted depending to how you slept the previous night, just to take the pressure off nocturnal sleep or no sleep at all. Make sure that in the preparation leading up to your event that you are achieving at least 5 cycles! Sleeping in 90-minute cycles also helps the athlete develop a better understanding to the values of sleep and how they can feel more in control of it; creating a positive mindset to their recovery through sleep.

Pre-sleep routine:

Get a pre-sleep routine into your training! Along with having a consistent sleep and wake schedule, winding down before going to sleep is a great way of getting your recovery on track before an event. Our bodies crave routine, so by having this routine at a constant time each night, will ‘train’ your internal body clock to naturally shut down at a similar time each night, helping you drift off to sleep! 90 minutes before your set sleep time, we recommend doing the following activities:

•Use the bathroom

•Read

•Yoga and meditation

•Relaxation exercises

•Going from light to dark

•Having a cool shower or bath

•Stretching

•Listening to calm music.


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Doing these activities will create association between that activity and sleep. So, if every night you read before going to sleep, your brain will know that reading signals sleep time. Avoid watching TV or scrolling through twitter feeds as this will stimulate the mind rather than preparing it to shut down.

Watch the diet:

In the run up to the event (pardon the pun) watch what you drink and eat! Sports drinks and energy bars claim to enhance performance whilst also replacing electrolytes. However, what you don’t get told is that these snacks often contain up to 12 table spoons of sugar per serving. If the day of the triathlon is hot weathered (which would be usual for this year’s lack of summer!), then staying hydrated it key. Being pumped full of sugar will cause dehydration. Elevated blood sugar levels cause osmotic diuresis, where the sugar sticks to your kidney and carries water out with it into the urine. As a result, your kidneys will then be unable to reabsorb the water! So, stick with water or slightly diluted squash. Replace energy bars with lean proteins like turkey, or use peanut butter, pumpkin seeds or bananas. 

If you can’t, don’t sleep!

Don’t be surprised if you can’t sleep the night before the event. Adrenaline wired, nervous, anxious and staring at the ceiling, thinking about the races outcome, but don’t worry. These feelings can all be used positively. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get a full 5 sleep cycle night the evening before the race. Aim for just one or two cycles and this should take away added pressure of not being able to sleep. Continue to do your pre-sleep routine and relax. Zone out and prepare your body for the race. Do yoga, meditate, massages, read, use your bio hacks like banana tea and Montmorency tart cherries.

I have athletes that don’t sleep at all the night before an event, so don’t worry.

The post-race tips:

When you cross that finishing line you will feel elated! All that hard training finally paid off. However, your body might not feel so great. Low blood pressure, dehydration, musculoskeletal stress and a weakened immune system. The recovery part after the race is just as important as your training, so here are my top recovery tips. 

Rest:

Sleep is the holy grail to recovery after intense exercise. During sleep, the growth hormone, somatotropin, works on muscles and bones that are slightly stressed from training. Certain hormones stimulate growth, they aid cell reproduction, cell regeneration and your body’s metabolism also repairs you, whilst you sleep. During sleep, your energy consumption lowers, meaning your body and brain is resting. Therefore, more energy can be used to restore bones and muscles. Around 40% of the usual blood flow to the brain is sent to the muscles instead to help restore energy. The hormone prolactin is also released during sleep which is anti-inflammatory and helps further to reduce achy joints.

Don’t let your muscles seize up, continue with simple light exercises to not only alleviate the pain, but to help minimise soreness. Light exercises such as gentle jogs, walking on an inclined treadmill or swimming will help as these actions will promote blood circulation to tender muscles. 

Ice bath:

One hack a lot of my athlete’s use is having an ice bath. After the race, your body needs to repair, and sitting in a bath of freezing cold water for 8 minutes will help! Your blood vessels bring oxygen to your muscle tissue, it also helps by removing the waste products, produced by exercise. Most commonly known as lactic acid. Too much of this can cause muscles to function poorly leading to fatigue. An ice bath will immediately reduce swelling whilst flushing out lactic acid. Whilst sitting in the bath, the cold causes blood vessels to tighten, this also helps drain the acid. Getting out of the bath will cause the muscles to warm up causing a return of oxygenated blood to help recovery.

 Massage:

Massages also helps with blood flow. The cheaper alternative to a professional massage would be using just your hands or massage ball, stick or foam roller. Good areas to focus on for triathletes are calves, quads, IT band, glutes and hamstrings. If you find any sore spots, work that area gently for a few minutes to loosen it up.

 

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Diet and hydration:

Diet and hydration is key for recovery. Post-race, you should aim to eat whole, unprocessed foods – fruit and veg, whole cut meats, eggs, nuts and fish. Immediately after the race have a snack like a banana to fuel recovery. For your first larger snack try and replace lost carbohydrates with whole grain pasta, bagels or oatmeal, all of which are slow to digest. During intense exercise, blood flow is redirected away from your stomach and aimed to your muscles, so give your digestive system some time to get back to normal. We would recommend having a few smaller snacks throughout the day rather than one large meal.

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Hydration doesn’t just mean drinking water, but you need to replace what is lost in sweat too. Not only will a huge drink of cold water after the race be refreshing, but it will also restore your fluid levels to help repair your muscles. The sooner you work to replacing the fluid, the sooner you will recover. As tempting as it may be as a reward, stay clear from alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, just like those sugary energy drinks!

 During the first evening of your race you are pumped full of pride and energy, so don’t worry if you are finding it hard to get to sleep, just relax and reflect on your accomplishments!

 Tweet us your best selfie to @sportsleepcoach with #postraceselfie for the chance to win a signed copy of my book! We will pick our favourite selfie!

Well done everybody.

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