Humans have a wide variety of interests and hobbies, and sometimes these side activities can become a little bit competitive, particularly athletic hobbies that involve games or races. The following will explore some of the things you can do to help ensure that you’re in the best condition for a race or game of physical endurance. Given the flexible nature of these tips, they can be applied just as easily to periods of intense training as well as days of competition.
Get Some Sleep
Sleep is crucial for every aspect of your health and well-being; this is particularly true for someone who spends their time training or exerting themselves physically. You need sleep in order to repair your muscles after a tough workout or training session. You need sleep to maintain solid decision-making skills (which then influences whether you make healthy food choices or feel motivated to work out as you had planned). High-quality sleep can also help you have mental clarity, which might be needed for contests that require some awareness or mental stamina as well.
It’s easy enough to see why you need to get enough good quality sleep, but it can be tough to know what that means for you. Consider keeping a sleep diary for a while, taking note of when you went to bed, what time you got up and how you felt throughout the day. Quickly you should be able to see a pattern developing. There are several online challenges that are designed to help keep you motivated to go to bed early when a night of watching television would be more appealing. It can take a bit of time to get used to going to bed early, but you will soon feel the energizing benefits and wonder why you didn’t cultivate this habit earlier.
Couple the information you gathered about your sleep habits with an ideal goal for sleep, and you’ll have a pretty solid idea of what you need and whether you’re getting it. If you don’t know how much sleep you should be aiming for, take a moment to use a REM sleep calculator to figure out what is a good target. Of course, if you haven’t changed your sleeping habits or experienced any major life changes but are feeling more fatigued than normal, it might be worth speaking with a doctor or naturopath. There are sleep disorders that can influence the quality of your sleep, even if you’re getting the same amount as usual.
Other factors that can help foster healthy sleep include avoiding stimulants like coffee, energy drinks, nicotine, and other drugs in the hours before bed. You might also want to leave screens and other blue light-emitting objects out of the bedroom. Many modern electronic devices have sneaky lights that are constantly on, regardless of whether the device itself is on. Think about how the coffee maker power button glows blue in the dark when you’re stumbling towards it in the morning, or how the television power button glows even when the machine is off. You can either move devices with this feature out of the bedroom or unplug them before going to bed to prevent the circadian rhythm damaging effects of having blue light in your room while you sleep. It doesn’t matter that your eyes are closed; the light still impacts your sleep.
Like sleep, water is crucial for all aspects of our well-being. Athletic performance is no exception. The right balance of hydrating fluids helps improve endurance. Beyond this, while exercising, you’re going to be sweating and slowly losing out on fluids. If you’re starting out dehydrated, you’re going to find yourself depleted pretty quickly. To get hydrated and stay that way until the race is done, avoid alcohol in the days leading up to the game. Drink water and make sure you’re getting enough salt (it’s easy to go overboard with the salt, so be careful here). You’re also going to want to keep an eye on sugary drinks and caffeinated beverages as often the fluid you’re getting isn’t worth the inflammation or diuretic effects, respectively. It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t knock food as an excellent source of water. Most fruits and vegetables are packed full of water.
Nutritious, Energy Rich Foods
In addition to keeping yourself rested and hydrated, you’re going to want to pay attention to what you’re eating both while training and while competing. You want high-energy food, which often equates to higher-carb food, including vegetables and beans, right before the game. Protein and fat are also crucial elements of a nutritious pre-game diet. Try to pick only foods that are doing double duty. You don’t want empty carbs like bagels; you want carbs full of nutrients and protein like beans. Nuts, in particular, are an excellent addition to your pre-game meal. The more duties a food is fulfilling, the better choice the food is.
Of course, it’s important to time your eating the day of the competition. If you’re someone who feels sluggish while digesting, you’re going to want to plan to eat a little earlier. Try to keep in mind that it takes an average of three to four hours for a person to fully digest a meal. Typically athletes eat a full-sized meal about two hours before the big race or game. An hour beforehand, many athletes enjoy water with a quick-digesting snack.
The above tips should help you get yourself into the right state to play or race your best. Of course, none of the above steps will replace good, old-fashioned practice. Part of a great race involves the time you put into your sport prior to the big day. Adequate training is what is going to reduce the risk of injury in the strain of the game. It’s crucial that you listen to your body and refuse to push yourself past your comfort zone. It’s far better to lose one race than to suffer an injury that will keep you from training and improving for weeks, if not months or years. Some injuries have permanent impacts on your athletic abilities.