4 Reasons You Feel Sluggish At A Meet
Do you ever wonder why you don't feel your best at a meet?
Do you feel like, even though you're doing the same training, you just can't keep up with your teammates?
Let's take a closer look, shall we?
Monday: #MeetWeekMonday! You head into the gym feeling great! You're super excited to fine-tune your routines this week and crush your season highs this weekend! You're feeling great, so you take a few extra turns (extra stuck dismounts, extra bar 1/2-sets). You really want to nail it! It's late when you get home and you've still got homework to finish, so you grab a glass of water, finish your homework, and get to bed as soon as you can.
Tuesday: WOW! Are you tired! 6 Hours of sleep wasn't enough AND you slept through your alarm! You're late for school so you just grab a granola bar and run out the door. By the time practice rolls around, you're tired but still excited to give your all to get ready for this meet. Tonight's assignments are tough, and you barely make it through. By the time you get home, you're so exhausted that you go straight to bed.
Wednesday: First thoughts waking up - THANK GOODNESS you have the day off of practice tonight! Since you're not going to burn it off, let's just pack a light salad for lunch today. But when dinner time rolls around, you are just so hungry! It's like the flood gates have opened! You're trying to be "good" but you can't control yourself, so you have 2 helpings at dinner and then scour the pantry for sweet treats. UGH, "I'll be better tomorrow - got to look good in my leo"!
Thursday: You feel like you shouldn't eat breakfast, since you ate so much last night... You wan't to be your best at practice, so you grab a piece of fruit to eat on the way. You start warm up, but for some reason, it feels extra hard. You can barely get through your routines and you start to get extra nervous for this weekend's meet. You get home, grab a comforting snack and try to soak in a hot bath to relax.
Friday: Finally, you made it to the end of the week! You've got a little more energy and are convinced today is going to be a good day! Light day at practice tonight, just a few pressure sets, which went ok, although for some reason, your teammates look way more polished than you do...You get home early and vow to get ready for the meet the next day. So you load up on a big bowl of pasta and try to get to bed early (but you can't seem to fall asleep).
Saturday: Meet day is finally here! You're tired and super nervous! You want to perform your best and, of course, look your best in front of the judges. You're not super hungry, so you just take a few bites of fruit and start to get ready. You can barely keep your eyes open in the car, so you ask your parents to stop for coffee (an xl double pump will perk me right up). By the 2nd rotation, you're exhausted. You struggled through your bar routine, had a bunch of wobbles on beam, ran out of gas for your 3rd tumbling pass, and balked your 2nd vault. UGH...next meet will be better...right?
I hear stores like this from gymnasts all the time! And I understand how frustrated you are. You're sick and tired of being sick and tired (and injured). Fed up of finishing second place.
When I was a JO and NCAA gymnast, I was just like you. I had worked so hard and had such big goals for myself, but I always felt like I came up just a little short.
If this sounds like you, it's super likely that you're under-fueling (and you might not even realize it!)
4 Reasons You Feel Sluggish At A Meet
1. You Over Trained And Under Fueled All Week: All of those extra routines, extra turns, extra hard landings add up, and they all require extra energy for your body. When preparing for a meet, gymnasts should actually be eating more! More food, more carbs, more fats, more fruits and vegetables!
Think of your energy levels like your cell phone's battery. Ideally, you want to start each day fully charged, at 100%. If, you forget to plug it in at night or only charge for it a little bit of time, it's likely that it won't be at 100% when you wake up and it will die mid-way through the day. Each day you forget to fully charge your phone, your battery's life is shorter and shorter, and your phone acts glitchier and glitchier. Charge your battery to 100% between every practice by prioritizing your fueling routine.
If you're not prioritizing your fueling scheduling, including high-intensity training plates at meals, fueling snacks in between, and fueling for training and recovery, it's very likely that you're going to come up short.
2. You Tried to Cram a Week's Worth of Pre-Meet Fueling into 1 Meal: Trying to fuel up for a meet by just having a "big dinner" or a "good breakfast" is like trying to win a meet you only practiced 1 day for. You can't undo a week's worth of poor fueling with 1 or 2 good meals right before a meet. Please refer back to point #1 and prioritize fueling your body all week long.
Additionally, "carb loading" or eating a very high carb meal (like a team pasta party) only the night before a meet is more likely to shock your body, make it difficult for you to sleep, and cause you to feel sluggish, then it is to give you more energy. Instead, start increasing the portions of your foods at meals (by as little as 1/4 or 1/3C at meals) 3 or 4 days before your meet to help build up your energy stores while avoiding the sleep troubles and sluggishness the day of.
3. You Missed Out On Sleep: I know you are super busy with school, gymnastics, and all of your other obligations. BUT, recovery happens during sleep.
Your body needs anywhere from 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to run at 100%. Getting less than 8 hours of sleep at night can sacrifice your recovery your energy levels, and cause your hunger and fullness signals to get all out of whack!
Prioritize at least 8 hours of quality sleep each night. Habits like wearing blue light blocking glasses, having a technology curfew (turning off the tv, computer, and phone at least 30 minutes before bed), and building a bed-time routine with relaxing activities (like taking a hot shower or reading) can all improve your sleep quality and quantity. And, sneak some power-naps in when you can!
4. You Missed Out On Your Pre-Meet Fuel: I know there's a lot going on the morning of a meet. Between nerves, travel, and wanting to look your best in your leo, you've got 1000 reasons let food go by the wayside. But, it is still important to fuel your body before a meet. That means eating a fueling breakfast, as well as meals and snacks leading up to your report time. And that coffee you rely on for energy will not give your body the true fuel it needs to perform your best. You may even need to pack snacks to eat during the meet to keep your energy and performance high. Remember, you're more likely to impress the judges (and college coaches) by hitting your routines vs what you look like in your leo...
When you skip meals, avoid foods, and don't make performance fueling a priority, you can't expect your body to be at its best come competition time. It's not just about giving 100% when you're in the gym, but also making what you do outside of the gym a priority. It's not too late to get your nutrition sorted out and see major improvements this season! Apply now for my 1-on-1 nutrition program for gymnasts.