If you have a trip or comp quickly approaching, it’s time to be proactive about your health. At least 2 weeks before your event, start paying attention to the little things: sleep, hydration, diet, supplements, and training.
Sleep is one of the most important times for your body to recuperate and repair all the damage that ensues throughout the day. If you skimp on your sleep, your immune system will suffer, and illness will eventually catch up to you. Do yourself a favor and get plenty of sleep at night.
Hydration is another big factor in staying healthy. If you’ve let your hydration slide through the summer, now is the time to focus. Whether you’ll be hiking for days at elevation or spending full days in the gym for a comp, water is crucial! An easy rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would aim for about 75 ounces of water per day.
Diet and supplements can also significantly affect your health. Regardless of your personal diet, you may notice that certain foods make you feel better than others. Prior to your event, pay attention to what you’re putting into your body. If fast food or processed food make you feel sick, don’t eat it in the few weeks leading up to your trip – no matter how convenient it may be. Supplements help in the same way. If you take a multi-vitamin, fish oil, probiotics, or any other general supplements to support your health, be religious about taking them. Don’t wait until the day before your event to start caring about your health.
The last thing to pay attention to is your training regimen. In this day and age, over-training is a HUGE problem. We want INSTANT, extreme results and we don’t care how we get them. This mentality usually results in fatigued adrenals, a weakened immune system, pulled muscles, and popped pulleys. There is absolutely nothing wrong with balls-to-the-wall training, but be smart about it. Make sure your regimen includes plenty of rest days and alternative activities for injuries.
If you start feeling sick (i.e. weak, tired, swollen lymph nodes, achy joints, feverish, etc), don’t train. There is a distinct different between illness and laziness – familiarize yourself with it. When you are sick, your body is fighting something off. If you exercise while you are sick, you rob your body of precious energy and make recovery that much more difficult. If you feel horrible, your body probably wants you to lie down and sleep so it can do its job and get you feeling better.
I’m writing all of this because I forgot to pay attention to the little things. I got very little sleep the week before my climbing trip and got even less the night before my flight. I was lazy about my supplements and my diet had started slipping. On the 3-day trip to Shelf Road, I was only able to climb 2 days because I got sick. I decided to rest the 2nd day instead of climbing and was able to salvage some energy to send some super fun routes on the last day of the trip.