Monday, August 27, 2007

Hurt So Good

You did what yesterday? You’re training for a marathon and you went out and played football?

That was TR’s reaction to my newfound team sport, but after a moment he laughed – at my pain, I think – and decided it was good for me to, “have fun.”

True story.

The soreness I am feeling at this moment absolutely tops anything I have ever felt while training for long distance races (all three of 'em). I am nothing short of flabbergasted that the fastest and least painful way to reposition my legs is by using my arms to physically move them. I’m wondering if I can get my hands a rascal scooter to tool around town in for the next few days. It would certainly be more efficient.

I mean – let’s be real here people for just a second (fo’ realz). I am training for a marathon. I ran 13 some odd miles a couple of weeks ago. Sore? Meh. Sure, my body is arguably “used to” running, but right now, my legs are nothing more than appendages dangling limply from my hips. When people point at and ask about my now useless legs, I will tell them, “These old things? They used to work. Now, they’re good fer nothing. Ol’ football injury.”

Football has rendered me incapacitated.

Who knew?

Anyway, I was reading the Red Eye, which for those of you not in Chicago is the mini-paper in town written for and by people who have the reading ability and attention span of a six-year-old boy with ADD. Also, it’s a fine publication for those of us who prefer to take our morning news with a side of pop – pop science, pop culture, pop music, pop goes the weasel. Whatever.

There was an article today about sleep ... the premise being that if you aren’t getting at least eight hours of sleep a night, you’re not getting enough of it, and the reason you're probably not getting enough sleep is because our society (or urban society) promotes an unhealthy sleep cycle by giving people access to all-night entertainment -- or something to that effect. Isn't the Internet also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

In the paper version of this article, Red Eye's team of intrepid journalists tracked a 28-year-old woman’s every post-midnight move as she roamed around on weeknights to bars, restaurants, and a Waffle House in Indiana (Really? I mean, I like their hash browns too – with onions, do they call that “covered?” – but Indiana?). Every night, she’s out and about until 3am – bare minimum, and even if she does go home “early,” she stays up reading or watching TV or whatever… eventually passing out (I know… “passing out” connotes drunkenness, but I would argue that when you go to bed at 4am or so every night, you’re not actually “going to sleep.” You’re body has just been through battle and surrendered; the term “passing out” much better describes the fact that you gave up, and the falling asleep wasn’t much of a choice, regardless of whether or not alcohol was factor in your non-decision).

So, I’m thinking to myself as I read this play-by-play, “Really? Are people out all night, every night?” and I realize – wait a second – she’s an extreme case, but more and more, sleep is the only expendable activity left in my life. And, I’m starting to think that I don’t need sleep like I used to. I function well enough to not forgo my schedule with as little as four hours of sleep, and six to seven hours is now an average for me when I used to – without fail – get eight. Sure, sometimes I’m tired. But even that’s only in theory. For instance, on weekends, when I choose not to set an alarm and just “let myself sleep” my body’s internal clock often goes off after a mere six hours of shut eye.

So maybe I’m not bar hopping until 4am on Tuesday, but I’m frequently out until 10pm or so. Once home, I eat something, watch some TV and then screw around on the Internet until midnight, when I attempt to read or write before falling asleep. Depending on the circumstances, I’ll get up anytime between 5:45 and 7:45.

So maybe it’s not Waffle House in Indiana crazy. Still… it’s a little crazy – in an incredibly tame in comparison to other people kind of way.

But, is it really detrimental to my health?

Hey pop scientists, I need a chart. Maybe you can put something together that compares apples to – oh I don’t know – let’s say – oranges. I’d like to see how much time, in years and days, sleeping less than eight hours a night will subtract from my lifespan. Then, I want you put another little line on the chart measuring the same thing, only for smoking – because I quit that. Maybe toss in a line for eating McDonalds every day. Once I compare the various health risks, I can make an educated guess as to what any of this has to do with me.


L Sass said...

I (fondly) remember the days when I lived the Indiana Waffle House kind of life. Then I hit the ripe old age of 24 and became a sleep machine!

Lots of people function on less than 8 hours a sleep a day... I need, like 9-1/2. If it makes me a lame loser who goes to bed at 10 pm every night, so be it.

Nikkie said...

I think everyone is different. Up until a couple years ago, I could sleep 10+ hour uninterrupted, but now I'm at about 7 1/2 hours.

I recommend checking out this website. It's all about how to become an early riser in the morning! I hope it works!

Kendra said...

I require around 10 hours every night or I really can't function. It's nuts. I mentioned this to my mom last week and she said I've always been like that.

So I guess the sore legs have prevented you from trying out the new running shoes? I want to hear if they helped out your knee.