The 3 Rs: rest, research, “recovery”

Those are the 3 Rs of a post-race week, right? Ok…maybe the one in the middle doesn’t belong. But since I did little this week outside of work, I thought I’d give you a short description of my research instead of a short description of my runs. The pictures aren’t as pretty though.


I felt pretty ok Sunday after the race – then pretty exhausted Monday. Shocking, I know. I expected that post-race, but I also haven’t really been getting enough sleep since the semester started.  Averaging 7+ hours a night probably works for the average person…but I can’t sustain that for more than a few weeks without feeling the effects. Chronic fatigue has made my tolerance for sleep deprivation all but non-existent.

This week I did a good job of getting to bed, and then actually falling asleep. I don’t (often) have insomnia – the trick to actually falling asleep is just that I have to put my book down. I’m not someone who can fall asleep while reading (nor would I want to). I managed to put the book down by 10:00 most nights. And sleep 8+ hours. I feel only marginally more well-rested, but it’s a start.


This is the first week of the semester where my schedule has accommodated running a lab experiment, so no rest extended into my work days. I teach Tuesdays 8-2 and Thursdays 10-12, 2-3, which makes Wednesday the only day I can start an experiment. I spent Monday and Tuesday afternoons prepping everything so I could get the experiment set up as quickly as possible Wednesday morning. Once everything is set up, sampling starts – but let me back up a bit and explain what I’m even doing.

I know it’s blurry, but it’s the sole photo I took this week.

I am researching the possibility of using reactions between iron and nitrogen to remove selenium from water. (Here’s a brief explanation of the hazards of selenium pollution.) While I normally work with bacteria, I ran an experiment this week with no bacteria to determine whether some of the iron-nitrogen reactions I think the bacteria are catalyzing could be purely chemical.

I use colorimetric assays to measure iron and nitrogen in my experiments – this means mixing the sample with a reagent that reacts with the compound you want to measure and changes color. (Fluorescent pink for nitrogen and purple for iron, in case you were wondering.) You can then measure how much light is absorbed by the colorful solution and calculate the concentration of whatever you are measuring. Because I have 3 of these assays to run (I’m measuring 2 types of iron), each round of sampling takes ~2 hours. It goes something like this.

9:00 – prep tubes for sampling and reagents for assays.

9:15 – start sampling.

9:35 – finish sampling, iron assays start incubating, add samples to nitrite assay.

9:45 – nitrite assay starts incubating, acid preserve selenium samples (I analyze these on a machine later), clean up work area.

10:15 – measure nitrite samples.

10:35 – measure first set of iron samples.

10:50ish – finish measurements (the second set of iron measurements happens 24 hours later).

So on Wednesday I took samples every 3 hours (9, 12, 3, and 6). Combined with miscellaneous other tasks, it was basically non-stop 8am-8pm. Thankfully, I only needed to sample once a day for the rest of the week. I may not have been quite ready to relinquish my summer schedule (um, “schedule”), but this week’s whirlwind tore it away!


…in quotations thanks to the research schedule. Lots of sitting and repetitive motion is not exactly conducive to soothing achy joints and muscles. Fortunately, my muscles weren’t are sore as expected – but my joints were worse. Running fast on a rocky downhill turns out to be harder on your joints than running easy on a dirt downhill.

When I got up Monday, the top of my right knee and the outside of my left knee and hip all hurt when I walked. I avoided stairs as much as possible – my right knee especially was not appreciative. I had planned on some restorative yoga Monday evening, but wasn’t sure my joints would even appreciate that. Things were feeling much better Tuesday, and the yoga happened then instead.

Everything seems almost back to normal now, except that the pain in my left knee comes back when I sleep on my side. Which I do every night. I’ve actually occasionally had the same pain after sleeping before, so I guess it’s time to do something about it. Do I have to change my sleeping habits? Ugh. That sounds like a lot of work.

Speaking of sleeping habits – for the past couple months, I’ve been doing yin or restorative yoga in bed before I go to sleep. Not every night, but probably 3ish times a week. I confess I usually read while doing it….which I realize is not how you are intended to do yoga. But I got in a couple more nights of yoga this week, which hopefully helped with recovery. Then I went to a yoga class Friday, which was the first day I felt like doing any structured exercise. I discovered that my legs were not quite recovered from the race….so running will happen this week sometime, probably.



Do you read before bed? How do you convince yourself to put the book down?

Have you ever had sleep-induced knee pain?? How did you fix it?

Linking up with Meghan for week in review and Holly and Wendy for Weekly Wrap




22 Comment

  1. Kim G says: Reply

    The research you’re doing sounds so interesting!

    I love that you do yoga before bed. I don’t really sleep that well, so maybe doing some yoga would help. I’m going to look into that.

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      You can find lots of yoga classes on Youtube that are specifically to help with sleep! I can send you some links if you want.

  2. The few times I have done yoga before bed feels like it helps with sleep. I am so glad that you are getting more rest and better sleep-it is so vital. Wow your research sounds so interesting!

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      I do think the yoga helps!

  3. Wendy says: Reply

    I usually read before I go to sleep and that does the trick…most of the time. Last night I finished a book–I couldn’t put it down, and I was a little hyped up after. I had a little trouble falling asleep.

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      I’ve done that before – I try not to read books that get me hyped up before bed, but sometimes you don’t know til you’ve read it!

  4. The “research” R threw me so I had to read this… made me miss my old chem class days! While I am removed from the lab, I like the idea of incorporating research into my recovery/off-season. I’ll have to look up some running books to read!
    Becca Menke recently posted…Weekly Wrap 31 | Slow Build BackMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Running books sound like a fun research project!

  5. Laurie says: Reply

    LOVED reading about your research, Hannah! I am a science nerd to the Nth degree. I used to teach chemistry and would help about 100 students select, research and do lab projects every year for science fair. It was exhausting but very rewarding. Reading about your research takes me right back to that time in my life. You did a wonderful job explaining your research.
    Laurie recently posted…When the Moon Hits Your EyeMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Thank you!

  6. Yoga and book reading at the same time…now that is some impressive multi-tasking. I fall asleep with my book every night, usually with my light still on. Thankfully, my Hubby cleans up after me. 🙂

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Only the types of yoga where you hold poses for a long time…I’m not going to try any flows while reading 😉

  7. Cora says: Reply

    I am truly, very jealous of you. I’d love to read more, but literally I open a book and 2 and a half pages in I fall asleep. Anywhere. But obviously most quickly when in bed. So unlike you I can actually use opening a book as means to get some shut eye. But oh I do wish I could stay awake longer!

    Your research experiment sounds fascinating!! (and a lot of work). My brother is a biologist in Newfoundland and my Dad was a biologist that worked with fresh water (more northern Canada) so I’m very respectful of all the work that is going into the health of our water systems.
    Cora recently posted…Week In Review: Granola, Baking and Cleaning out My ClosetMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      There has to be a happy medium between 2 pages and the whole book!

  8. Sorry to hear about your knee pain – hopefully it’s only a temporary discomfort!
    Your research sounds awesome, and it makes me miss doing independent research in college. I studied chemical and environmental engineering, and microbiology ended up being one of my favorite classes! What you’re doing sounds so cool!

    I hope you enjoy your recovery and get more sleep! I wish I could sleep 8+ hours, it ends up being very rare for me, even though I’m sure my body needs it!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Road to Recovery Weeks 7 & 8 RecapMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      My PhD is in environmental engineering!

  9. It’ll take your body a bit of time to recover. I suspect your knee pain is from the downhill effort. (But I occasionally over stretch while in bed and hurt mine all the time. So maybe you are on to something!) After all, you demanded a lot from it last weekend. I usually nod off watching TV. I once read voraciously. But as I’ve aged, my eyes feel tired at the end of the day. Thanks for linking!

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      I’ve nodded off watching TV on the couch plenty of times, but I’ve never managed in bed! Granted, if I’m watching TV in bed it’s always in a hotel, so that probably has something to do with it.

  10. Thanks for sharing your research and letting us take a sneak peak into another part of your world!

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Thanks for reading!

  11. […] version: I thought my knee pain had gone away, but I was wrong. Long version: keep reading…if you want 500 words about my […]

  12. Ah, got where the knee came from and I’ve added you to my feedly blog aggregator now. I loved reading about your experiment, fascinating. I’m glad you don’t have to hover over it now, but can test it once per day!

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