Heart Rate Training: Heat and Sleep Are Real Issues

Role Mother (and marathoner) Melissa is wrapping up the Half-Marathon Heart Rate Challenge and has been documenting it along the way. Here, she talks about what she'd do differently next time. (Check out her intro post, her first two-week check-in, full of run/walk/skip/stop/bend over combos, her thoughts on delayed gratification, her setbacks, and the ultimate motivation.)


We are nearing the end Wave 1, Amazing Half Marathoners and the light at the end of the tunnel is burning bright! We’ve done our EATs, our LRs, plenty of SCCCs (and about five other acronyms) and for many of us,  race day is just around the corner! My race will be at the Happy Girls Half Marathon at the AMR Retreat in Spokane on September 24. I’m especially looking forward to cooler temps and lower humidity. That right there may be worth my six-hour flight to the Pacific NW.

Editor's note: Want to join Melissa at the 2016 AMR Retreat: Run + Refresh? Enter here to win a trip for you and your BRF.

But I honestly don't know if I'm ready. Basically, I’d like to confess to Jesus (and Coach MK) that I’ve been slacking on my heart rate training, and I’m well aware I’m gonna pay the price. Problem #1: The heat. Even runs that end up being walks because my face is practically melting off are leaving me completely dehydrated and totally wiped out, and unable to recover quickly enough to have anything in the tank for the next workout.

Problem #2: sleep, which I blame on the glories of mid-life hormonal changes and endless worry about my college kid. I have always been rock-star sleeper, but these days, I’m waking up around 2 - 3 a.m. and having a hard time getting back to sleep. And I am one of those mother runners who needs sleep like cereal needs milk; I just don’t work without it. Anyone know who the Patron Saint of Self-Care is? Because she needs to be in Spokane next month!

Despite my pain points, I’m gonna push through the last three weeks as best as I can. And then I am seriously considering starting this whole plan over around late October, when the temperature and humidity are more forgiving. As for the sleep issue, I’m going to need to do a little more research on what I can do to limit middle-of-the-night wake times. I can only imagine what a time-zone adjustment of three hours earlier at the AMR Retreat is going to do to my body clock. (If you see me and I say I need to go to bed at 6 p.m., don’t judge. And will anyone be up for a morning training run around 2:45 a.m.?)

Do you have any tips/suggestions for Melissa re: sleep? Let her know in the comments section below.

22 responses to “Heart Rate Training: Heat and Sleep Are Real Issues

  1. A couple of years ago I started having a hard time going to sleep, so I would take 1-2 generic Benadryl before bed. Over time those would only work about 4 hours. I would wake up around 2 and have a hard time going back to sleep My sister is heavily into essentials. I am a skeptic and refused to try anything she suggested. Finally I gave in. She swore by an essential oil called vetiver. I tried it once and was hooked. Of course you have to be able to tolerate the smell. (I am very sensitive to smells but this one is kind of musky.) She told me she put on her big toes. It has been a lifesaver for me.

  2. What are you doing just before bed? NO screen/TV time! I too am a worrier and it keeps me awake. My daughter just quit a good job and moved 1000 miles away with a guy I don’t even like, much less love. I find though that waking up at 3:45, getting in my run/bike/swim/whatever and then working all day makes me a good sleeper. (If I have problems I talk to my Dr. about getting some anti-anxiety tablets to help me get to REM state).

  3. So glad to not only ready the post but the comments!! Makes me feel not quite so alone! I, too, am a victim of the heat and sleep issue. On top of that I have had alot of “life” happen during this training and am not going to be able to complete my goal race. The one comfort I take is that I know I can do this training over and set a new goal.

  4. The heat, humidity, stress & lack of sleep have kicked my rear this summer. We are getting settled into new school year routine and I am seriously dragging. I am glad that I am not alone in struggles! I wish you the best of luck on your situation and glad I read the suggestions for sleep. I took a Tylenol pm last night to attempt to get a good nights sleep and was draggy this am.

  5. I am so glad you brought this up!! I have been struggling with the hormonal imbalance and I am telling you it kicks my butt. My body IS NOT what it was 3 years ago, so frustrating. Good luck on your race, trust what you know.

  6. When I get into a funky sleep rut, I turn to be old favorites. A glass of wine, Calms Forte, two ibuprofen with my nighttime vitamins. Definitely not all at the same time though. 🙂

  7. To be completely honest – I just cheat and sometimes take a Tylenol PM. The advantage is that if I do this, I must go to bed early enough for it to clear my system for a good morning run.

  8. Magnesium has helped me so much – I sleep better and my terrible muscle cramps are a thing of the past- Good luck on the college kid worries– we are past that and now I worry about the newly weds 🙂

  9. I am a user of natural health remedies, including essential oils. There are many that are super helpful for sleep, and I started taking a women’s supplement, specifically for “women’s issues”. It’s been a wonderful thing so far. I invite you to send me an email to [email protected] and we can discuss your specific needs there.

  10. Have you tried a chewable melatonin before bed? that works for me. I sleep through the night and feel great in the morning. No grogginess.

  11. Well, that was a blast from the past. I spent seven years going through menopause and can honestly say that sleep interruption was the worst part of it. For the first three years I tried every natural remedy out there: Calm, melatonin, meditation, acupuncture, etc., etc., etc. Finally I went to my GP in tears. He put me on a low dosage of Trazadone, an anti-anxiety medication that is often used off-label for sleep issues. It changed my life. I take 50-100 mg about 30 minutes before I go to sleep. Yes, there are times when I still wake up around 2-3 AM but I’m not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for two hours or more. Plus I don’t feel groggy in the morning and have had no side effects. You have all of my sympathy and more, Melissa. Here’s hoping you find that magic bullet. Enjoy the retreat!

  12. As a fellow marathoner who’s also going through the hormonal disruptions of peri-menopause, I am sharing my naturopathic doctor’s recommendation for better sleep. Use either: Kavinace 2 tablets, or Magnaleveures 1 packet mixed with water or juice. You will sleep really deeply! But maybe consider not doing it the night before a race as it does make you groggy if you have to wake up early. After years of poor sleep patterns, I’m so happy to finally be able to sleep through the night!

  13. I’m with Jennifer – calling on St. Jude! Enjoy every moment of the retreat and remember that your son will make good choices – you taught him well!

  14. Liquid Melatonin drops have REALLY helped me with STAYING asleep at night. You can get them online or at Health Food stores.

  15. Refresh, retreat, enjoy dear Melissa! Enjoy the great company, cooler temps and run your own race. See you on the other side – fall is coming!!!!!

  16. I ditto the magnesium comment by Cecelle and would also add cherry juice. I went to an acupuncturist earlier this summer re: not being able to fall asleep easily and then waking up around 3am and not being able to get back to sleep. She recommended magnesium powder and cherry juice. I use a magnesium powder called Calm (I get mine at Whole Foods) and I stir a scoop of it into a serving of cherry juice about an hour before bed. If I wake in the wee hours of the morning, I take a melatonin pill. I usually get up around 5:30am and I don’t feel groggy (unlike when I’ve taken Diphenahydramine or an aspirin PM before bed).

  17. I can’t help you with the sleep as I am chronically sleep deprived.
    The college kid, well that gets easier with time. Just remember he is going off with your values and ethics. My son made this point to me when he was in college, and it did help to realize that. Even if he didn’t always follow those values 😉

  18. I am there with you — mid-life hormone shifts + stressors = sleep problems like I haven’t had since jr high! I had a little benefit from hormonal regulation with a Nuvaring, but not enough. Following. 🙂

  19. Hey Melissa, I will be at the retreat. Hearing you loud and clear, so you and I might be racing each other…to see who gets to bed first! Keep on keeping on, girl!

  20. Oh Melissa, I hear you. Swap high-school age child for college age child, and we are in the same place. I found a new fall running jacket on sale, and the idea of wearing it is keeping me going through these last hot, humid days of summer. As for the sleep – I find magnesium before bed helps somewhat, but I still haven’t found the cure for sleeplessness either. Have a great time on the retreat, and I am sure Happy Girls will be much better than you expect!

  21. St. Dymphna is invoked as a patron saint of sleep issues and anxiety. As far as this summer’s soul crushing heat and humidity, we’re going to need to call in the A-Team… the Fixer… St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes! God speed, Melissa!

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