Success with Stamina
Success with Stamina
A little blog about being a triathlon coach. Here you'll find a little diary about my activities as a coach, the performances of the people I work with and my thoughts and opinions on what makes athletes faster for longer.

Carpe Diem

AndyBby AndyBNov 6th 2009
With the clocks going back, the onset of winter, and the darker mornings we all jump out of bed in the morning ready eager to train! No? Ok, so for most people it may actually be harder to get out of bed when it is dark outside but it is actually natural to feel like this. Why? It is all down to your circadian rhythm.

Your natural body clock helps dictate when you sleep and when you wake. During waking hours (for most, when it is light) you are most active, eating, thinking, training (you choose the priority!). During sleep your body rests and most functions; heart rate, blood pressure decrease although interestingly digestion increases. So sleep is very important to help our bodies rest and recover from day to day life and training (as discussed in my last blog). The time we start to feel tired and more significantly, the time that we wake is dictated by daylight or more specifically the wavelength (colour) and intensity of the light. Photoreceptor cells on the retina (at the back of the eye) detect the light and send signals to the brain which then inhibits the production of a hormone called melatonin. Fluctuations in melatonin dictate our daily wake/sleep cycle or circadian rhythm. When levels increase we start to feel sleepy and when levels drop we start to wake. Our bodies also learn to release a large amount of hormones about 2 hours before we wake, this helps us feel much more alert on waking than you otherwise would. If you have ever had to get up at four in the morning when you usually sleep until seven you have probably experienced the intensely groggy feeling you get without this rush of hormones.
This is why it is particularly important to develop a set routine, your body gets into its rhythm and it really makes getting up in the morning easier. But how can we get up earlier and make it feel more natural when the mornings are dark?

Picture the scene; you are wrapped up tight and warm in your duvet, dreaming about your smooth rhythmic swim stroke or the wind whistling past your ears as you rip through the air in your time trial tuck then out of the blue comes the abrupt, loud siren that is your alarm clock, may be accompanied by what is known by the youth of today as chart topping music. You squint through crusted eyes and see that it is time to get up and go for your swim but you feel so tired? It could be because you are forcing your body to wake when it has not received biological signal that it is nearly time to get up.

In the past couple of years, I have found a solution in the light emitting alarm clocks ( At this point I would like to make it quite clear that I have no connection to any of the companies listed here, I just think the product is great! The gradual increase in light simulates the sun rising and is supposed to make getting up in winter a whole lot easier through the science described above. Myself and friends who use them have noticed a real difference in the morning, waking feeling more alert and of course ready to train, which in turn increases the quality of our morning training sessions 'carpe diem!'
sarahleonardby member: sarahleonard, Nov 10th 2009 19:53
Hi Andy, Enjoyed your post very much. I'm finding it even harder (If that's possible) to get up in the morning, even my trusty lamp won't shift me, but your post helped to reassure me.

However, I have to say, that RED bikes go the fastest :o)
AndyBby blog author: AndyB, Nov 16th 2009 21:14
Hi Sarah

Is your routine as regular as possible? Going to bed and waking up at similar times everyday can often help get your body knowing what to do when with regards to waking up.

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