September 18, 2010

Doug Hawley: Rest essential for runners

— Consistently good rest often is overlooked by runners who become addicted to logging many miles. Some world-class runners reportedly sleep an astounding 12 hours a night.

Be mindful that running is their profession. They collect prize money from the races, as well as substantial appearance money.

Since there probably are no current Olympic candidates in our immediate area, let’s be more realistic. Those training for the first Dalton Half Marathon, which is scheduled for Oct. 16, should be OK on seven to nine hours nightly. Any more than that seemingly can leave you sluggish.

Some alleged experts harp on the theory of going to bed the same time every night and arising the identical time each morning. It is to create a comfortable, regulated body system.

This sounds fine and dandy.

Unfortunately, many of us have erratic working hours which include going to ballgames that last deep into the night. Then some of us just cannot make ourselves go to bed early.

During college years ago, my fraternity bought a jukebox that was placed in the dining hall on the bottom floor of a three-story structure.

Somebody outside the fraternity asked me, “Since you live on the first floor, how are you able to put up with the music late at night?”

“It’s not so bad,” I answered. “I’m usually the last one up listening to it.”

Some experts have told us lately not to retire for the night immediately after watching television, advising us to wait at least one hour.

Granted, watching a late-night Atlanta Braves game to its conclusion and then waiting one hour could really mess up the sleeping pattern. How about staying up even later to watching the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football?

If we can use some common sense as dedicated runners, go to bed before those endings. Find out the results the next morning.

Most experts advise us not to eat too close to bedtime. Allow at least two or three hours to avoid a heavy stomach while trying to sleep.

A daily 81-milligram aspirin is recommended by many doctors. But even mild sleeping pills should only be taken through OKs from your physician or pharmacist.

A brief nap at midday, 20 to 30 minutes long, can do wonders. If your employer catches you asleep on the job, please do not tell him or her the source.

Rest for runners is not just about sleep. Tired bodies do need breaks. After a hard run one day, do not hesitate to go easy the next day or even several days.

Yoga classes can provide needed relaxation and stretching. All runners could benefit.

• A slight revision of the Dalton Half Marathon course can be found at No, it does not include climbing Mount Sinai.

• Next Saturday, Murray County will be the scene of the seventh annual Eton Country Fair 4-mile race, which starts at the Old Wishing Well.

For the past several years, this has served as Georgia’s only certified 4-mile course.


This is the 13th in a 16-part series of instructional columns preceding the first national Dalton Half Marathon on Oct. 16. Doug Hawley, a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years, finished in the top 10 percent of five Boston Marathons between 1976 and 1981. You can write to him at