Running the night before? Good? Bad? Stupid?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Bottle Rocket, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. Bottle Rocket

    Bottle Rocket Hall of Fame

    Jan 12, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    Hey guys,

    I am curious about all you runners/joggers out there. Do you go for a run or jog the night before a big match or your first match in a tournament?

    I know that many of the days I play that if I've gone for a run (3+ miles) the night before, I truly do feel better while playing the next day. I feel like I've got some extra energy and extra endurance. Whether it is a real physical side effect of the run or something mental, I know that I feel better. I expect better play after a jog.

    I also know that if I play 5 hours at a time and try to play the next day, I am completely worthless and my level drops a few notches. Sometimes days that I've run before playing tennis, I am also worn out. I tend to play to the point of really wearing myself down and I obviously don't recover from that in one night. I expect a lower level of player if I'm out for the second day in a row.

    So my question is, what do you guys think about a jog or a run the night before playing an important match?

    Are there benefits? Is "freshness" more important? What all is at play here? Is it the amount of time spent on the activity? Is it how strenuous the activity is? Am I really gaining a near-instant benefit from a run? Am I insane?
  2. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

    Dec 11, 2005
    For every mile you run, recover one day before your big match. That's my theory and practice.

  3. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

    Jun 22, 2007
    I'm a sprinter, not a jogger, but logically your run might have some negative effects. For example, sprinting and jogging are at odds with each other. Dedicated jogging (meaning miles) has been shown to decrease the ability to sprint. It makes you slower. If you rely on quickness on court, jogging is a no-no.

    On the other hand, you may be getting some endurance benefits, as long as you aren't overdoing it and you feel fully recovered overnight. Do you sleep better after a jog?

    The one thing that is certain is vigorous exercise the day before a match is a bad idea. I know most top sprinters take at least 48 hours off from hard training before a race. I suspect most competitive tennis players only do light warm ups and practice hits during a tournament on their days off.
  4. drhopz

    drhopz Semi-Pro

    Feb 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Go for a light jog, nothing heavy duty. Usually your muscle needs time for a brake or they'll tear.
  5. Tennis High

    Tennis High New User

    Jun 24, 2007
    It's funny you should bring this up, because earlier this week I played a match at 7:30am, having just finished a 5 mile run at 12:45am 'earlier that morning/late that night.'

    I am not the addictive marathon-running 6-7 day week runner I once was, I only aspire to 3 days a week at about an hour each time out. The pace is pot luck, I run with a hr monitor almost exclusively on trails in the woods, on a padded track, or even a good treadmill (much much easier on the knees). According to my monitor I run at 65 to 85% or my MHR, and just run at whatever level I feel is good unless I am training for a race. But at whatever intensity I do it, it's still important for me to run, and for some reason, I just hadn't gotten around to running a few days, and decided I'd try it that night. I'd wanted to run earlier that night, but that's another story.

    How did the match go? Pretty laughable. While I can't blame it all on the running -- I hadn't been eating well, and I ended up with less than 3 hours sleep that night -- all of it ended up being a disaster. I had previously beaten this guy in a 3 setter about 3 weeks prior, and got smoked 1-6, 2-6. I had nothing. Serves, groundies, mental focus; you could just file everything away as "inconsistent at best."

    Why go in so unprepared? I had just aced my last match with this other guy two days prior. I attribute the win to having having a new stringjob on my primary racket that I hadn't used in months (and feeling really good with it) and having made practice session breakthroughs on a new semi-western forehand and increased serve consistency. What the hey -- I was overconfident, and I showed up thinking I could still win even with such an empty tank.

    As far as the running alone, I've been pretty successful when I've scheduled my matches for my off days of running. Besides the obvious long-term fitness/stamina benefits, running really increases my mental clarity and decreases my overall level of stress. If for some reason I find myself having missed the run the day before a match, when it's time to play I tend to find I am not as loose, and am not as "in the moment," ie, mistakes seem harder to forget and I am not as focused on each point.

    So run the day before? Absolutely. The night before? Personally, I would do it again against a lesser opponent only if I'd been eating better, didn't do it too late, and made sure to get enough sleep. Than if I logged a win without too much difficulty, I'd run the night before playing just about anybody the next day, why not. I might even try a tough afternoon match after having run in the morning, but only if it wasn't the usual hazy hot and humid afternoon that is par for northeast summers.
  6. Bottle Rocket

    Bottle Rocket Hall of Fame

    Jan 12, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    chess9, your rule for a day of recovery per mile before a match is a little much, don't you think? That means at times I'd have to wait 5 days after a run before playing. Where's the benefit in that?

    WildVolley and drhopz, you guys make some valid points, thanks for the reply.

    Tennis High, your post is especially interesting.

    I mentioned in my original post that sometimes my results after a run are much better. I guess I didn't really know what to attribute that to, but after reading your post, I may understand things better. It was never because of better fitness or better conditioning that day, really, I had a better mindset. After a run has been the time I have beaten a certain person that I never beat when I am "fresh". I tend to lose concentration or belief in certain moments of the match and it costs me. It is also thougher for me to get over those screw-ups. When I was a little worn out from a run either the night before or the day of, I was much better able to stay focosed and relaxed. Execution of my game plan, my strengths, and everything got a little bit sharper.

    When I go into a match after resting thoroughly for a few days, even though I am in the best physical shape I can be in, my results end up being the poorest. With that said, other than that one guy who beats me most other times, I definitely feel better knowing I can run and recover better than my opponent.

    Very interesting!

    I am still interested to hear from others. If anyone has any other comments, I'd love to hear what you've got to say.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2007
  7. nswelshman

    nswelshman Rookie

    Apr 18, 2005
    i reckon you can run a bit, but you gotta keep it light, like not going above say 75% of your max heart rate across the time of running. but i think you gotta make sure you warm up the next doin something with a bit of speed to it, cause i reckon that running long aerobic sessions can take away your speed!
  8. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Jun 2, 2006
    The Great NW
    I see the point of warming up your muscles, but I would prefer a Jaccuzi to a run. Why? Because a Jaccuzi won't use any of my stored glycogen from my carbo loading, whereas a run will.

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