Being a track and field athlete has a lot to do with what you do off the track, pit, or field. What you eat or what you don’t eat can seriously affect your game. You need to eat well-balanced meals. Make sure you are eating enough, but not too much. See your school nutritionist if you do not know what and how much you should be eating. While I encourage everyone to have a cheat day or two every now and then, but for the most part, you need to eat healthy if you want to be the best in your sport.
General nutrition guidelines for the track and field athlete:
You will want to eat small meals every 2-3 hours, stay hydrated, eat lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. You should always have a post-workout snack within 30 minutes of training, and most important, never skip meals.
Mental toughness varies from athlete to athlete. But having the natural or developed psychological edge should give you an edge over your opponents—meaning dealing with your sports demands and other demands such as competition, training, academics and lifestyle. You will want to be more focused, confident, and have total control when under pressure. Oh, and we all know that consistency wins the game, so be consistent. If you have mental toughness, you will have control over your competitors.
Most athletes understand that dehydration decreases blood flow to the muscles, which will reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients being brought to the muscles. When this happens, it will increase the amount of waste products that stick around within the muscles! You don’t want this to happen, do you?
So how much should you drink?
- 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before you start training.
- 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start training or during your warm-up.
- 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during training.
- 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise.
Get a foam roller and roll out after every one of your practices/workouts. Annoy your teammates like I do and ask them to roll you out! Your athletic trainer is also always an option. Stretching is a must and can prevent injuries that you thought you would never get.
Stretching will help to keep your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. You will need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Did you know that if you do not stretch, the muscles shorten and become tight and weak, and you will not get a full range of motion.
Whether that is through naps during the day before practice or at night, you need to be rested. Besides, if you don’t sleep, how are you supposed to have those nightmares of missing the bus to compete at your next meet?
Did you know that sleep plays a vital role in your physical health. Sleep is involved in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. And just so you understand, if you do not get proper sleep, it is not healthy. It can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
College athletes typically need more than most—it’s recommended that you get 8-10 hours every night.
About the author: TJ Bleichner
2017 Big Ten Sportsmanship Honoree
2x Big Ten Scholar Athlete (2017, 2018)
Top 10 LSU Marks
No. 9 – Distance Medley Relay – 9:46.35
2020 Indoor (SENIOR)
- Winner of the 600 meter run at the LSU Twilight with a season best time of 1:21.71
- Crossed the finish line in 13th place in the 800 meter event with a time of 1:54.42 at the Tyson Invitational.
- Member of the DMR team that placed sixth at the SEC Championships with a time of 9:46.35 which ranks as the ninth best time in LSU history.
- Finished in 14th place in the 400 meter dash with a time of 52.43 at the Corky Classic.
- Ran a time of 1:31.30 to place 16th in the 600 meter run in his season debut at the Purple Tiger Invitational.
* Originally published on July 26, 2021, by TJ Bleichner