In one of my earlier posts I talked about how important it is to have an exercise routine to keep fit. This post is about how I get the most out of my current fitness level on a particular day or an event.
I have never been part of a competitive team or sport. I had developed a nice exercise routine for myself to keep fit since about 2006, but I never tried to cut minutes of my run or set goals to reach certain km or go at a certain pace until 2012. Around that time I started playing soccer regularly, and noticed there are days that I feel like god and glide around the pitch, and there are days that it feels like I am carrying extra weights and running on stiff legs. Luckily my brother is a kinesiologist and with his help, my own research, and some documentation I was able to identify some key factors to help me perform better.
I basically made an excel file with 7 columns: Date, Sleep, Food, Water, Warm up, Activity, and how I felt (Rating out of 10). For about 2 months I kept track of how long I was sleeping, what I ate on that date, whether I had enough water, whether I did warm up before my run or game, what activity I did (Run, soccer, bike or combo), and how I felt during and after.
I made a template, which you can find here.
This is anti-climatic, but I found sleep the most important factor in all. If I didn’t have a good sleep, it didn’t really matter what I did on that day. The second important factor for me was water, and specifically drinking continuously rather than making up for not drinking throughout the day, and chugging 2L of water an hour before the game. Warm up was next, and I will make a post about what I exactly do in future but I believe this is preference and depends on what you do. Let’s just say foam rollers are key for me, and I find they help me a lot before and after an activity….helping the recovery for next day! Food is last, and short of eating lots of yogurt, creamy food, and deep fried food, I am ok. I personally found sushi the best food for game days.
I believe each person is different, and maybe there is no magic number of sleep, food, and warm up routine that would work for everyone the same way. I suggest making an excel file like I did, and if you do, please send it to me after you have 1-2 months logged! I am also very curious to see how much psychological factors play into feeling tip-top on game day.