For Athletes, Sleep is a Common Thread

What happens when elite athletes interview one another? Hint: there’s a lot of conversation centered on the importance of sleep. The following is a chat between Cribmates, ultra runner Jenn Shelton and Olympian Alexi Pappas about the similarities and differences in their training routines. Fellow elite runner, and Mammoth Lakes’ local, Morgan Gonzalez (Mo) joins the fun.

Alexi: Jenn, what’s your favorite race distance?

Jenn: It may surprise people but I’d say the road mile! I think it’s a community based event but also really intense.

Alexi: But Jenn, you run 100-mile races, right?

Jenn: Yes.

Alexi: When is your next one?

Jenn: Oct 20-23rd—it’s a 100 miler in Reunion Island.

Alexi: What fuel do you bring with you on your training runs for your race (which I understand can be 60 miles long!)?

Jenn: Well, this last one I cooked a frozen pizza and brought it with me.

Alexi: How do you recover from one of those training runs or races? You just got back to the Crib yesterday after a 36-hour training run and I was wondering what you did today?

Jenn: Oddly, I like to do a speed work session the next day to flush soreness out.

Alexi: Whoa, cool. Your races and training are often done alone, right? Do you think you thrive alone?

Jenn: I don’t think I thrive alone, but I do think I need sessions of aloneness to regenerate every once in a while. But I am a social creature.

Alexi: For races, what do you look for in an aid station?

Jenn: Well, you’re alone for so long and you’re at an aid station and it’s a lot of stimulation. So it’s important for me to plan ahead of time. My plan is always: lube, throw out my trash, and get more fuel. And DON’T forget the lube. You cannot have too much lube out there.

Alexi: This is much different than my track races.

Jenn: Like how?

Alexi: Like I don’t have to carry a first aid kit during my races!

Jenn: Right, right.

Alexi: What about sleep? This interview is happening in the Crib where we sleep, after all.

Jenn: Sleep! I think sleep is the most important part of training. Everyone is focused too much on nutrition, stretching, and weight training, which are important. But sleep is the most important thing! Don’t you think?

Alexi: I agree! Sleeping is like half of my job!

Jenn: Alexi what is the farthest you’ve run?

Alexi: 20 miles.

Mo: Dude, you’ve done 21 miles with me.

Alexi: Probably. But I round up. Jenn: But saying 20 is rounding down.

Alexi: [Smiles]

Jenn: Alexi. I need a stylist. Back to you. This is not about me. You have great style. Do you want to be a designer?

Alexi: Designing would be fun.

Mo: Jenn can we tell Patagonia that a size small is actually a medium plus?

Jenn: No, you brat, because I wear a small.

Alexi: [Smiles] I like coming to the Crib because I get to see into these other elite athlete worlds like cycling, triathlon and trail running.

Jenn: Do you find them to be vastly different worlds than your own?

Alexi: Yes and no. We all value good sleep and food but the training is very different from sport to sport. We are all also homebodies and value low-key time in between intense training. Which reminds me, I have to go to bed.

Jenn: Do you think less of me for taking the master bedroom with the whirl tub thing?

Alexi: No, unless it’s shaped like a heart. But really, I like the downstairs room, which stays really dark so I can sleep in the middle of the day. Or, the night. Like now. Goodnight.

Mo: Goodnight

Alexi and Jenn go to their rooms in the Crib and sleep. Mo goes home to sleep. The end. Good luck to Jenn in her race this week!  

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