Top 10 Tips to Maximize Your Performance
As an accomplished marathon runner and owner of an integral wellness practice, I would generally say that, when preparing for a long distance event (e.g., a trek), you will greatly maximize your enjoyment while minimizing the chances of injury by taking good overall care of your body. Here are some of the most critical things to pay attention to.
1. Drink enough filtered water.
Most Americans are chronically dehydrated and do not know it. During training, and especially in the 6 weeks leading up to your event, men need to drink a minimum of 2.5 quarts, and women need a minimum of 2 quarts each day. Why 6 weeks? It takes the body up to that long to become fully hydrated and reverse chronic dehydration.
Drink a large glass upon waking in the morning, 20 minutes before each meal, and take small sips throughout the day. Hot water, or room temperature water has more benefits than does cold water. Also important: pick up a package of unrefined sea salt (e.g., Celtic, Himalayan, Hawaiian, etc) which contains natural trace minerals. This will help your body use the water you drink, and replenish the electrolytes you lose when you sweat.
During training or events, drink 20-40 ounces per hour. Do this by taking a couple sips every 15 minutes. Set your sports watch or smart phone to beep every 15 minutes to remind you to drink. Remember that when you feel thirsty, it’s too late – you are already dehydrated.
I recommend avoiding or at least minimizing common sugary sports drinks. Instead, dissolve a very small amount of unrefined sea salt in your water, or you might try mixing water in a 1:1 ratio with a high quality orange juice (i.e., not from concentrate) to replenish your electrolytes during extended exertion.
Be sure and use a pharmaceutical grade fish oil. Though it may sound strange or even disgusting to some, this has many health benefits and will greatly support your training. High grade fish oils do not taste “fishy,” and generally taste better than multivitamins or other supplements you likely already are taking.
3. Eat well.
I will not expound here as almost everyone knows this means eating more fruits and vegetables – aim for 10 servings a day, 2-3 per meal. What I will do instead is share several recipes that I personally love, making healthful eating more easy and enjoyable.
Olga’s Vegetable Soup Even my seven-year old loves this, and it has cabbage, beans, and swiss chard in it! Note I add ground Parmesan cheese and sourdough bread to take this up a notch.
For the adventurous, add the juice of half a lemon and a tablespoon or so of Flaxseed oil to half a shredded beet for an uncommonly healthy and rejuvenating side dish. Beets are amazing endurance and recovery-aiding food.
4. Buy a foam roller and use it on your leg muscles several times a week.
Instructions on how to use them are readily available online for free, also in video form. The small size is all you need, so they are cheap too. Again, many people may think this is strange, unnecessary, etc., but have never tried it. Any qualified, knowledgeable personal trainer will have you use one of these, and those who do use them know just how good they can make your muscles feel. Especially important is using one of these on your iliotibial (IT) band, the muscles that run down the side of your leg from your hip to your knee. This is a hard-to-stretch area that causes or exacerbates a lot of knee and back problems, especially for athletes.
5. Learn how to stretch your psoas muscles. Many people know intuitively how to stretch the Quadriceps or calf muscles, but comparatively few know how to stretch the psoas. A lot of people don’t even know where it is.
With a table
Advanced: Active Isolated method
6. Train in the environment your event is in, in the type of clothes you will be wearing and with the equipment you will use on event day.
While this may seem obvious, many people sabotage their event day by wearing untested clothing, shoes, or gear.
7. Before or during training and events, massage the acupressure point called Stomach 36.
Here is how to find it: feel for the tender depression in this area (see black dot in image). It is known as the “three mile point” for a reason: stimulating this point enhances energy and endurance. Every little bit helps after 20 miles on your feet.
8. Before training or exercise (or as part of it), do 5-10 slow Wall Squats.
Here’s how. This is an invaluable exercise that will increase important flexibility and help reverse the effects of sitting all day. Be sure and do it barefoot or on flat-soled shoes.
Everyone will tell you the value that strengthening your core will bring to your athleticism and stamina. What many don’t know is how to properly do it, and even worse – some of the most common ways people work their core can be harmful to the lumbar spine.
10. Get acupuncture twice the week before your event.
I highly recommend Community Acupuncture, which has many health benefits and is much more affordable than traditional acupuncture. I challenge skeptics to give it a try; This will go far in maximizing your available energy and endurance for training before any event, or as a recovery aid afterwards.
Timothy Ford offers personalized wellness programs and coaching to busy professionals. To find out why an integral approach is far more effective and less costly than working with a nutritionist or personal trainer, contact Timothy for a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.