Pre and Post-Competition: What to Eat and When

If you want to perform your best each time you step onto the field, you’ve come to the right place. Athletes use many methods to get ready to compete, but one of the easiest ways to ensure you’ll perform is by eating the right things before and after. It’s as simple as this: put in good stuff and you’ll get good stuff out of it. So without further ado, let’s reveal the pre and post-game secrets:

Before

The meal before your competition should be consumed two to four hours prior to go time. Carbohydrates should be the main focus of the meal, with a good amount of protein as well. Two to four hours leaves plenty of time for digestion but you’ll still carry the energy from a carb-heavy meal with you into competition. Then, 30 minutes before you start, top off your energy levels with a carb-focused snack.

After

After victory, it’s time to refuel your body. Aim to get another carb and protein heavy snack or meal within 30 minutes of finishing. This is especially important if you have multiple competitions in the same day. Chocolate milk is a great post-game drink and you can also chow down on a light meal such as a sandwich.

Hydration 

The last key to a great day on the court is hydration. Muscles are made of 75% water, so hydrating is directly related to how well you move. On an average day, it’s recommended you drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces. It should be more on game day. That means a lot of water, and if you grow tired of drinking water, sports drinks like Gatorade are beneficial as well. Also look for food and drinks high in sodium, as salt prevents cramping.

Focus your efforts on these three things on game day, and you’ll be ready to perform at your optimal level. When you’re physically prepared to dominate, you can be mentally confident you will.

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A Mindset of Sacrifice

Traveling with USA Track and Field during this year’s world championships has allowed me to learn a great deal from the athletes in a unique environment. During preparation for the championships I sat down with Kara Winger, a three time Olympian and the American record holder for javelin. I asked her several questions about what athletes sacrifice and was fascinated with her response.

I specifically asked: “I am amazed at what athletes ‘give up’ or commit to. What do you think of when talking about commitment to your sport?”

She responded with this:

I’ve always been very intrinsically motivated, so when I think about commitment to sport, it’s about bettering myself and not a whole lot else. People get wrapped up in discussing the sacrifice of athletics, but I’ve never seen it as a burden. To me, it’s an opportunity to do something totally weird and different than you ever thought you’d be up to, see the world, and challenge yourself in ways you don’t expect. Maybe it’s partly being 31, but I’ve always loved lots of sleep, I enjoy feeding myself well, and I like to measure my improvement in anything, not just athletics. It’s not a difficult commitment in my mind to see if I can be the best at something, and I’ve been in the sport long enough to know that friendships formed and experiences gained along the way make the effort that much more worth it. 

The only things I feel like I give up are time spent with loved ones in the summer and outdoor adventures that I long to have someday. But I’ve also learned to prioritize time with loved ones when I have the opportunity (off-season and holidays). Smaller-scale outdoor activities help me recover from sport, mentally and physically, so I work those in too. I don’t think everyone gets to figure out that time is precious this early in life, but I truly have sport to thank for that, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Instead of focusing on the sacrifice that she has made she is clearly focused on the reward that she gains by the profession that she has chosen. Athletes at this level give up so much. They always are eating, sleeping and living with performance in mind. I know several that set an alarm so that it reminds them to go to bed on time, clearly conflicting with activities in the evening. We often don’t see this type of commitment because we are not living with them on a daily basis.

Personally, I have now been on the road approximately 18 days of a 25 day trip. This is time away from my family that I cannot get back, but I am inspired by Kara’s words. I also had an amazing moment on this trip when Amy Cragg placed third in the women’s Marathon. She is the first American woman to win a medal at the marathon distance since 1983. I was honored to hand her the flag at the finish line.

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More Sleep = More Effective

Professional athletes and fitness fanatics alike are constantly searching for ways to improve, sometimes trying anything and everything. Some of the best ways to improve your athletic performance are completely within your control, however, and you don’t need to try expensive or cutting edge techniques. That’s right, we’re talking about things like mental prep, nutrition, and sleep.

Sleep is perhaps the most underrated element to athletic success. Athletes like Lebron James and Roger Federer have stated they aim for 10 hours every night. Sleep not only recharges you, but it is known to help prevent diseases and injuries. Research has shown that getting less than six hours of sleep means you’re four times more likely to catch a cold. Other studies have indicated that young athletes getting inadequate sleep were more likely to become injured. That doesn’t bode well for continued success on the field of play.

Sleep is important for any athlete but particularly for middle, high school and college athletes. We recommend getting at least eight hours each night or more leading up to competitions. If you struggle to get that much each night, try taking naps during the day. Sleep improves focus, recovery and overall health. To take your game to the next level, don’t skimp on the z’s.

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St. Vincent Sports Performance Names Nick Inzerello Director of Sports Performance

INDIANAPOLIS (July 17, 2017) – St. Vincent Sports Performance, one of the country’s leading sports performance centers for Olympians, professional athletes and everyday athletes, has named Nick Inzerello as Director of Sports Performance.

Inzerello will lead day-to-day internal operations and help SVSP continue to provide an exceptional customer experience. He will oversee areas including rehab, sport psychology, nutrition, certified athletic trainers and high performance coaches.  

For the past 14 years, Inzerello has worked for USA Football in various roles, most recently spending more than five years as senior director of partnerships and education. During his tenure at USA Football, he served as a member of its leadership team and helped build the organization into football’s National Governing Body.

“Nick’s experiences across the sports landscape has shaped his operations portfolio,” SVSP Executive Director Ralph Reiff said. “Nick demonstrated an acumen for health care in his leadership of USA Football’s Heads Up Football program, which revolutionized American football.”

A player safety initiative developed by Inzerello, Heads Up Football has been adopted by more than 7,600 organizations impacting 1.2 million youth and high school players. The program certifies 140,000 youth and high school coaches each year.

Prior to joining USA Football, Inzerello oversaw athlete marketing for the United States Olympic Committee and worked as a member of the USOC delegation at two Olympic Games (Sydney in 2000 and Salt Lake City in 2002).

Inzerello played football at Northwest Missouri State and graduated in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and media studies. He received his masters of business administration from Ohio University in 2016.

 

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The Work Isn’t Over When You Leave the Gym

It’s a great feeling walking out of the gym after a hard workout. You feel tired but also a sense of accomplishment and pride. But if the hard work ends as you exit, you’re not maximizing your fitness plan. The work on the field or in the gym is important, but recovering from that work is equally as important.

The prime time to start recovering is within 30 minutes of your workout. Your muscles are strained and tired, so refueling them right away is important. Focus on food and drinks that have high protein and plenty of carbohydrates to replace the glycogen stores (fancy word for energy) that you lost. These types of recovery snacks help you replace energy levels, repair muscle damage and rebuild muscles, making them stronger for the next time.

There are plenty of tasty options that accomplish this. A protein shake after your workout is a great way to get lots of protein into your system quickly. Chocolate milk is another excellent option for quick recovery. String cheese with pretzels offer good sodium as well, which helps prevent cramping. Apples or bananas with peanut butter also have a good protein/carb balance. Your first meal post-workout should also have plenty of healthy proteins and carbs. Avoid fast or junk food after a workout, as they offer little recovery benefits.

The work doesn’t stop after you’ve finished your last mile or cranked out your last rep. Plan ahead, have your recovery snack ready and reap the benefits of your hard work.

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On The Road With USA Football Pt. 2

After arriving at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada last Thursday, this past week has been a whirlwind.  The first step was to unload all of our supplies and get the new “training room” set up.  This in itself is no small feat, as football requires much more athletic training supplies than nearly any other sport.  While a dorm room doesn’t make an ideal training room, Sarah and I have been able to transform it into a functional space to tape and treat, and have done a lot of both!

When it was announced that this tournament was going to be held in Canada, I thought we wouldn’t have to deal with any heat issues.  The average high for Langley this time of year is 71 degrees.  Of course, we experienced a heat wave of record highs, and temperatures on game day soared to around 90 degrees.  Thankfully, the ladies did a great job of hydrating and taking our advice leading up to the game and we were able to come away without any issues.  After a bit of a slow start, we were able to get things clicking and came out with a 29-0 victory over a very athletic Mexico team.

After two busy days of practice, treatments and recovery time, team Finland was next.  Thankfully, the heat wave broke and temperatures were back to normal.  With the nervousness of the first game behind them, the ladies came out and played well, securing a 48-0 win.  The victory puts us in the Gold Medal Game against our biggest rival and Tournament host, Canada.

Already you can feel a new tension in the air as we prepare for the championship game.  Team Canada has played well in their wins over Australia and Great Britain.  Sarah and I are doing our best to keep the training room light and relaxed, giving the players a refuge from the tension of meetings and practice.  Thankfully, injuries have been minimal.  Only one player was held from practice today.  Treatments have consisted mainly of massage, stretching, cupping, and everyone’s favorite, the ice tubs.  Our little courtyard at the dorm has a fire pit, which has made a nice addition to evening ice baths, and made for some good team bonding time.  It’s funny how each of these trips take on their own personality.

Friday evening we will have the opportunity to accomplish our goal of bringing home the Gold.  The coaches will put together a great game plan, Sarah and I will continue to do everything we can to help the ladies compete at their highest level, and I’m sure they will leave everything they have out on the field.  Hopefully it will be enough.

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Life in Color

You could call fruits and vegetables the superheroes of the food world. They fight off that pesky extra weight and protect our immune system and bone health. Fruits and veggies are high in both water and fiber and help cleanse the body of unwanted cholesterol. It also turns out that each color of fruits and vegetables have distinct benefits to the body. So when building your next plate, try to integrate as many colors of the rainbow as possible:

Reds are great for heart health, which is easy to remember. Tomatoes, apples, and watermelons are great examples. 

Oranges and Yellows support the immune system and also help eye health. Some examples are oranges, carrots and bananas.

Greens help prevent cancer and improve bone health. Eat some spinach, kale, kiwis and avocados.

Blues and Purples offer antioxidants that help with memory function and disease prevention. Examples include blueberries, grapes and blackberries.

 

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SVSP Back on the Road With USA Football

Each summer one of USA Football’s national teams participates in the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) World Championships and each year St. Vincent Sports Performance is right there providing premier medical support along the way.  Last year, Chad Gabbard and I traveled to Harbin, China, with the U19 national team. This year, it’s the women’s national team on their quest for gold.

Sarah Luken and myself have spent the past week at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, working with the team through training camp.  As it is every year, it’s been amazing to watch how quickly individuals from all over the country come together as a team in such a short time.  In my opinion, football is the ultimate team sport, and with the bond this team has forged so quickly, the U.S. is well on their way to another solid performance.

This squad of 45 women represent 15 different states, and ranges in age from 21 to 47 years old.  One thing that makes working with the women’s national team a bit more challenging is the fact that nearly all of the players have just finished up their regular season back home or are in the middle of their playoffs.  In fact, about half of the team reported to camp the day after they just played a game.  This adds to an already delicate balance of getting in the practice time we need, along with making sure they have time to rest and recover before we head to Canada and play three games in eight days.

Needless to say, the training room has been a popular place.  When not on the field, in meetings, or at meals, chances are you’ll find Luken and I in there doing everything we can to help these ladies stay healthy and able to perform their best.

Today is our last day of camp.  We’ll finish with an “ice tub party,” get all our supplies packed back up, and get ready to head north of the border tomorrow morning.  Saturday afternoon we open up against Mexico.

Stay tuned.

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Want more energy? Do this

Busy schedules that include work, kids, appointments, workouts and much more can seem to zap energy right out of us. So what is the key to starting your day off with an adequate amount of energy? Look no further than the most important meal of the day.

After a good night’s sleep (equally as important to having energy) you lose glycogen levels. In fact, you normally wake up with a level around 40-60%. Glycogen equates to energy, so in essence you only have half the energy you normally do after waking up. Eating breakfast is extremely important; here’s how to make sure it’ll work.

Carbohydrates

The first ingredient you’ll want in your breakfast is carbs. Carbs are quick-burning, giving you an immediate boost. Items such as oatmeal, whole grain waffles or cereal and English muffins or whole wheat toast will give you that quick energy boost. Don’t neglect carbs when it comes to starting your day.

Protein

To compliment the carbs in your breakfast, you’ll want to pack some protein in there as well. Unlike carbs, proteins are slow-burning and give you lasting energy throughout most of the day. Without protein, your breakfast energy won’t last long. Grab some nuts, make some eggs and eat some Greek yogurt or peanut butter to get the protein you’ll need.

 

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Three Creative Ways to Stay Hydrated

Summer, at long last, it here. And with it come a plethora of outdoor activities that weren’t able to be enjoyed in the winter months. One key to enjoying a safe and active summer is hydration. Our muscles are composed of roughly 75% water, and depriving them of fluids can be detrimental to performance. So whether you’re an athlete in the midst of training or someone who simply enjoys the outdoors, here are three creative tips to ensure you’re drinking enough:

Carry a Bottle With Ounces Labeled: 

A good indication of how much you should be drinking on a daily basis is to divide your body weight in half and convert that number to ounces. Seem like a lot? That’s because it is. That’s what your body needs daily to be at its best. Carrying a water bottle with the ounces labeled on the outside is an easy way to see exactly how much you’re drinking and can help you keep the proper pace.

Try Flavoring Drops and Packets: 

There are plenty of these products on the market, and most of them are extremely low in calories and sugar. Adding flavor to your water is a great way to make hydration easier, plus you can mix up flavors to ensure you never get bored with the taste.

Infuse Your Water With Fruits or Herbs: 

Adding natural ingredients to water can give it a splash of flavor. Citrus, like oranges, limes and lemons work well. You can also try cucumbers or some mint leaves to add refreshment. All of these add a healthy punch to your water and make it more enjoyable to drink.

Hydrating doesn’t have to be boring or become redundant. Add new flavors, track your intake and enjoy those summer activities with a full tank of water in your system.

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