Last weekend I flew out to Las Vegas… not to gamble, not to go to strip clubs, not to drink. I went out there to play footbag at the 3rd annual Las Vegas footbag jam.
In the past I’ve had serious issues with getting fatigued, injured, worn out and in a funk at tournaments. Playing for 6-8 hours a day can really wipe you out. Especially if you’re not taking care of yourself. This time, with a little planning ahead and some fairly simple self discipline I was able to stay in the zone, energized and free of fatigue and soreness the entire time. I’ve never done that before. Here’s how it happened:
- Eat a big breakfast and as many calories and carbohydrates as early in the day as possible. For breakfast I typically have 20-30 oz water, a Larabar, 3 bananas, a mango, 2-3 oranges and a handful of dates. That’s just to get started, I usually eat a 2nd breakfast 1-2 hours later. (I used to be a fan of oatmeal but lately it’s ravaged my digestive system so I stay away). Fruit has sugar to get you going and build your glycogen levels so you have energy all day. It’s all about the fruit. I consumed what most people consider an obscene amount of fruit this past weekend and it was GREAT.
- DO NOT consume caffeine. Let lots of fruit be your pick me up in the morning. If you are exercising for an extended period of time, especially >2-3 hours caffeine will burn out your energy too soon causing you to crash eventually. It’s tempting, but for the long haul it will do more harm than good. If you’re only playing for 1-2 hours it’s a more realistic option, if you really want to do it.
- Warm up for 15 minutes or so, but then STRETCH like a maniac after getting warm. In the past I would fall into the trap of warming up, but then having so much fun I would skip stretching or forget about it and pay the price later. Just making sure to stretch after warming up made a huge difference in longterm endurance.
- Keep eating fruit throughout the day. Whenever I needed to take a short break, I ate some fruit. I bought a ton at the grocery store before when I got there. Whatever you can get your hands on really. For me it was mangos, oranges, bananas and dates. Since they are easy to digest I never felt bloated. It can be easy at a footbag tournament or another high activity event to forget that you are hungry. It’s important to continually replenish water, calories and glycogen levels over the long haul
- Stretch again every 2-3 hours. Again, takes some discipline to walk away from the action and stretch, but it keeps the muscles from tightening up and keeps you fresh.
- Live by the “The Stick”, die by “The Stick”. The Stick is a muscle massager. Get one. Massage the hell out of your muscles at the end of the day’s activities. Not only does it feel great, but it keeps them from tightening up and getting sore the next day.
- For diner, hit the protein and vegetables hard. Protein does not burn well as fuel so if you are playing all day you should save it for the end of the day. Let your body use it to regenerate. My go-to sources of protein were coconuts and spinach (which is 49% protein by weight). At the end of a long day of exercise both of them taste delicious. I literally bought a 1lb bag of spinach and just ate it raw by hand. It was fantastic. Also, veggie burritos were clutch too.
This is what worked for me. I was fresh, energized, happy and soreness free the entire tournament. I’ve never played so consistent at an event before. I will definitely be doing this again.