Hello again everyone! So this week's topic is something that is very important for all athletes to know and be educated about, especially for long-term participation and success in any sport! Nutrition and Injury Prevention are two things that are important to familiarize yourself with early, because getting into good habits early is going to be an essential step in staying healthy, and being able to perform your absolute best on any given day.
I want to preface this blog post by saying, I am in no way, shape, or form a certified Nutritionist/Physical Therapist. These tips I give you are snippets of information I have held close over the course of my nine years as a competitive athlete. If you have any questions on the topics I choose to discuss, please feel free to contact me, and I can go into some of these topics a little further!
First things first....NUTRITION IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Let’s all be honest, when we are hungry, it is really easy to eat whatever is lying around the house. Chips, cookies, doughnuts - yes they are all delicious, but are they going to give your body the essential components it needs to perform to its potential on a day to day basis? The answer, sadly, is no. In moderation, these foods are okay to incorporate into a healthy diet because, let’s be honest, everyone loves a good doughnut, or some cookies and milk as a midnight snack here and there. But it is insanely important that you get a well balanced diet, filled with protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits etc. Also, HYDRATE YOURSELF! I can’t tell you how many times I would go to school in high school and just *forget* to drink water. I would get to practice and want to collapse during a workout, and of course I would always wonder why I wasn’t performing well.
Here are some tips I have for eating well, and staying hydrated:
Obviously, I could go on and on about key components to keeping your body properly fueled for performance, but these are just a couple of key points that have stuck with me throughout my athletic career. I was terrible at staying hydrated when I first started rowing and I paid the price. And when I first got to college, my diet suffered. Thank your parents for cooking amazing meals for you every night! You rarely have to think about eating well, because most of the time, you are doing so without even thinking about it.
Now, here is something that is very important to me. Injury Prevention. As an athlete who is practicing five or six days a week year-round, it is insanely important that you recognize when you are starting to get hurt, and that you take the necessary steps to get treatment and stay healthy.
Here is my first tip (And I can’t even begin to stress this enough): You are not a hero for working out through the pain of an injury. I will repeat this. YOU ARE NOT A HERO FOR WORKING OUT THROUGH THE PAIN OF AN INJURY. There is a common belief that you are tough or strong if you fight through pain, or you get hurt, but continue to compete anyway. I personally believe that you are stronger when you can realize you need to stop, and you get the treatment you need.
When I was in high school, there was this one rower I remember. Everyone looked up to him. He was the best rower on our team by far. He had the best erg score, rowed beautifully, and was always willing to go above and beyond expectations to get himself and our team to reach new heights. One day, we were doing an erg workout, and he complained about pain in his lower back. However, he didn’t stop. He just continued to erg through the pain. Through the next couple of weeks, he continued to row, even though he regularly complained about pain in his back. When told to take a couple days off, he preached that he would be “weak” and a “coward” if he stopped working out. We were in the middle of a workout one day on the water, and all of a sudden I hear a loud yell from six seat, and I see his blade stop moving. He was left immobilized in pain and couldn’t move. We rowed all the way back into the boathouse by 6’s. The next day, we found out he slipped a disk in his lower back, and he unfortunately couldn’t row again. He was being recruited by many D1 athletic programs but missed out on his chance to continue his rowing career because he chose to listen to his pride and not his common sense. I am a strong believer that if he chose to seek treatment, he would still be rowing today.
I had VERY bad knee issues my junior and senior years of college. I had to go through extensive PT everyday before practice in order to just get through 90 minutes of rowing. I knew my limitations, and I stuck to what I was told.
Here are some tips I have followed throughout my rowing career:
Long story short, keep yourself as healthy as possible! Your body is your tool for performing well when you practice and compete. You need to treat it well, and you will thank yourself in the long term for it. If you have any questions, ask a coach about nutrition or injury prevention. As a high school athlete, it is important that you keep yourself healthy now so you can continue to compete and participate in sports long term.
Rowing is an amazing sport, because people of all ages can be successful at it, if they treat themselves properly!