Can more sleep make you faster? How about cross-training?

#ForReals If there’s one thing I want more of (next to money, let’s be real here…) it’s sleep!  And cross-training can definitely help with running burn-out.


Antonio, a Cigna Health Coach, shares tips with us to help you catch your zzz’s.


How Catching Zzzs Gets You Speed

Can more sleep make you faster? When you consider that the central nervous system is a main component of speed, sleep maybe the most overlooked aspect of speed training.

During your training you’ll begin to notice improvements. You’re running longer (duration), further (distance) and faster. This means your body is adapting to your training program. But did you know that some of this adapting takes place while you sleep? While you’re asleep, your body uses information from past runs to develop motor learning behavior. How long and fast were your strides?  How was your breathing and other factors, like temperature, during your better workouts?

Over time, your central nervous system learns what muscles will produce the most efficient movement. This will ultimately lead to you mastering these movements.

Think of when you first started to ride a bike. You may have had difficulty just balancing on two wheels and fell quite a few times. After countless hours of trying, you went home and later, you went to sleep.

While you were asleep, your mind replayed your actions. It downloaded everything that worked and didn’t work while you tried to ride the bike. After a good night’s rest (about 7-8 hours for an adult) you set out to ride the bike again. This time, you were ahead of the game. Your body recognized all the pitfalls from yesterday and adapted. You were able to balance without falling and moved on to the next phase of bike riding. Then you had another good night’s sleep and repeated the cycle of motor learning.

Catching your Zzzs can be important to becoming faster.


Briane Agostinelli, A Cigna Health Advocate, shares tips (and her personal experience) of the benefits of cross-training.


Is There More to Running Than Just Running?

As a runner, have you ever consider that there may be a better type of exercise?  What if I told you that by running less, you have the potential to run faster and reduce your risk for injury?

The answer is cross-training. It’s a phrase that gets used a lot, but what does it mean?

Cross-training mixes several forms of exercise, including aerobics, and strength and flexibility training.  Exercises are done at different levels of intensity to maintain a high level of fitness. By varying the stress placed on specific muscles, you can enhance performance and reduce your risk for injuries.

Six benefits of cross-training

  • Improved skills, agility, speed and balance
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Greater aerobic fitness by including nonimpact aerobic exercise in your routine to develop other muscles without increasing your risk for injury
  • Injury prevention
  • Runner’s injuries are frequently caused by instability or inadequate strength. With strength training and stretching, these injuries  may be greatly reduced.
  • Variety and flexibility to your routine
  • Reducing boredom, burnout, and if there is a change in plans you and your workout can adjust

Types of exercises to include

  • Aerobic: Running, swimming, biking, rowing, jump rope, hiking, stair climbing
  • Strength training: Calisthenics (push-ups, crunches and pull-ups), free weights, machines
  • Flexibility: Stretching, yoga, using a foam roller
  • Skill conditioning: Sprinting, agility, plyometric and balance drills

My personal experience

For my first marathon, I ran five days a week. I did minimal strength training and other forms of aerobic training. Then I signed up for my next marathon with a new mind-set to run less and cross-train more. By incorporating cross-training, I was able to avoid injury and improve my marathon time by 47 minutes – from 4:24 to 3:37.


Cigna Health Coaches

  • Antonio Williams, M.S., NASM, P.E.S, Health Engagement Consultant
  • Brittany Onufrak, MS, CWP, Cigna Health Educator, Consumer Health Engagement



This is intended to be general health information and not medical advice or services. You should consult your doctor for medical advice or services, including seeking advice before undertaking a new diet or exercise program.

Thanks for following along –

Perfectly Goofy Gail

Cigna_logo4How does running fit into your overall heath strategy?  Do you get enough sleep and/or cross-training?

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Perfectly Goofy Gail, Delightful Dopey Kimberly, PhotoBomb Becca & California Kiley

COUNTDOWN TO NEXT runDisney RACE WEEKEND: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend








Meet Perfectly Goofy Gail
Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail's 100th runDisney medal!

Perfectly Goofy Gail began getting active in 2005 with the goal of getting out of the house and loosing some weight... more

Meet Delightfully Dopey Kimberly
Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Thank you @runDisney for 7 years, 74 races, 102 medals and 708.2 magical miles!

Delightfully Dopey Kimberly began running in 2008 with the single goal of crossing “running a marathon” off her bucket list... more

Meet PhotoBomb Becca
We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

We don't call her PhotoBomb Becca for nothing...

PhotoBomb Becca...more

Meet California Kiley
Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

Disneyland Diamond Anniversary Minnie

California Kiley as you can probably guess hails from sunny Southern California... more