The final competitions of the 2022-2023 season are right around the corner! For many of you, this means regional and national meets. And I bet for most gymnasts, a big competition like this is not happening in your town (or even state). It probably involves travel!
Whether it’s a few hours in the car, a plane trip, or staying overnight in a hotel, this can easily throw a wrench in your fueling plan. What has worked all season when you're at home might not be possible on the road.
And while fueling your body as a gymnast is a long game and adequate nutrition happens over weeks and months of consistent fueling, so many gymnasts sabotage their performance at the biggest meets of the year by failing to fuel their body in the 24 and 48 hours leading up to a competition.
Don’t let your fueling plan (and success on the competition floor) be derailed by a change! When it comes to traveling for regionals, you may need to make some adjustments to your fueling plan so you will show up to your meet confident and well fueled.
Here are 6 things to consider when getting ready for your trip to regionals:
Create A Plan Ahead Of Time:
Once you know the meet details, like where you’re going, travel plans, and your report time, you can come up with a plan!
This plan may involve creating an adapted fueling schedule that covers the different days of your trip, including travel days, any days off or training days, and of course meet day, as well as what types of foods you’ll need to fill your fueling schedule! Think about what meals and snacks you might need on which days and how you will make that happen on the road.
Scope Out The Area:
If you're traveling to a new or unfamiliar place, do a little research ahead of time about where you’re traveling. That way you know where you’re going and what the food situation is! A few things to consider include:
If you’re staying in a hotel, do they offer breakfast or other meals and are those foods that work for you?
Will you have access to a refrigerator in the room?
What types of stores or restaurants are nearby your hotel or where the meet is being hosted?
What is accessible? Can you walk to it? Will you have a car, access to public transportation, a taxi, Uber/Lyft, etc.?
You can even look at restaurant menus online or make a reservation ahead of time!
Pack What You Can:
Make a plan to pack what you can to keep your fueling food choices as close to normal possible. Non-perishable foods like pretzels, fruit, or trail-mix are easily packed for a car or plane trip. For a car trip or day trip, perishable snacks like yogurt or string cheese can easily be packed in a cooler.
Stock Up When You Get There:
If you will be away for multiple days or packing everything you’d want to have is not possible, you could even find a grocery store or convenience store when you get to your destination!
Stick To "Familiar" Choices:
Beyond what you’ve packed, when traveling, it is realistic to expect that meals may be eaten at a restaurant. And, while the day before or of a competition is not the day to be trying new foods, if you’re traveling somewhere, it’s not likely that you’ll have eaten at these restaurants before. Look for restaurants with familiar choices that you know make you feel your best. For example, if your favorite pre-meet meal is pasta, look for an Italian restaurant with familiar menu items. If you rarely eat Mexican food, this is not the time to try a Mexican restaurant.
Lastly, realize that long car trips, airplane trips, and even staying in hotels can all be dehydrating! Make sure to pack your water bottle and sip on it often. You may need to drink approximately 8oz for every hour you are on the road or in the air. If you use electrolyte drinks or sports drinks as part of your normal training or competition hydration strategy, make sure you’ve packed what you need. Many of these products come in single serve packets or tablets which are very easy to pack!
Remember, performance nutrition is one of those extra factors that makes a good gymnast great and a great gymnast exceptional! A well fueled gymnast is a happier, healthier, higher performing gymnast! Good luck to all the gymnasts finishing up their competition seasons in the next few weeks!