I play GAA - hurling in particular. I love it, and I see first hand the sacrifice that goes in from players and management throughout a season. In Dublin our season tends to peak in Autumn - September and October are the months when the big games are played, the trophies are given out. Teams train for that - wanting to have everybody as physically prepared as possible for those championship games.
Every little detail is covered by management, the game is mapped out. And then, as always happens, the week of the big game two or three of your important players come down with colds, infections. They end up playing the game, but at nothing more than 60%.
This happens across the board - at every level. Who is responsible? Well - could have been the player himself not getting proper sleep. Could have been the fitness coach pushing the player too hard or not hard enough. Maybe it was the manager insisting on giving his talk in the pouring rain. Or even the teacher in the group dealing with snotty nose kids all day infecting everyone via the water bottles.
Can we prevent this? We probably can. The question I’m going to try answer here is how do you make yourself bulletproof?
This isn’t the time of year to be changing up your diet and trying to figure out the ratio of fat/protein really works best for you. What you’ve been eating so far has brought you here so lets not risk changing now. Depending on the individual, snacks may work for or against, but the three stables will build the the foundations.
Tips? Eat good quality meat, fat and vegetables at every meal. I spoke in depth with Donal Carr about this - see here.
- Good quality water is key. How much? When? And where to source it?
How much? In kg’s .033 in litres of body weight. So at 82kg I need to drink(82x0.033) 2.7 litres on an non exercise day. So in reality closer to 3.7l depending on exercise and intensity of strength work will allow me to stay hydrated.
First thing in the morning I’ll drink about half a litre - I normally put some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in this. You don't want to drink too much before a meal, it can dilute your stomach acid, so I leave thirty minute gap before eating, then during the meal I really focus on chewing my food so I won't ever drink more than two or three very small mouthfuls with food. I then leave another thirty minutes or sometimes more depending on the size of the meal before drinking more water. Then I’ll drink water while working, I have a two litre bottle beside me such that I can then track how much or how little I drinking. I will do the same for lunch and dinner. Now this is where things get interesting. At training my club insisted that instead of having someone filling water bottles and sharing bottles, you simply bring your own bottle. This is ingenious, it literally took two training sessions for the guys along with remembering to bring boots and a helmet, had a bottle of water. At this time of year you don’t want to risk players forgetting to bring bottles and getting very dehydrated during sessions, so I’d suggest small sized disposable bottles so there is no sharing of bottles.
Sleep is when you recover, for the average person 10:30pm until 6:30am is the natural sleep pattern, but as a high-performance athlete you need more. Adding an extra hour by sleeping 10pm until 7am will give your body optimal chance to recover effectively between sessions.
Tips for sleep...
Stay out of bright lights one hour before sleeping, this includes iPhones, TV & laptops. Candle light and fire-place are perfect.
Drinking coffee or caffeine based drinks (including tea) after midday will affect your sleep quality. If you need that morning kick I would ask why, rather than adding an extra espresso.
Stress is the mother of all disruption in the body. It’s as important to be aware of the stresses in your life as it is to even attend training, so working night shifts, fighting with your girlfriend, working overtime all add up. Seek to reduce stress especially during this time of year.
Keep a journal. When you lift that county title or that All Ireland you can look back and repeat the following year continuously looking for that one percent that will be the difference between two in a row or looking back thinking "If Only".
When I look back to 2008 while playing in Waterford IT I used to wear a hat and scarf to training and games, then as soon as I went without them a head cold with kick in. That all changed when I cleaned up my food intake, hydration and regularly swam in the sea. If only I had known that then!
I met Pat Divily of Pat Divily Fitness based in Galway & Greg Muller ofPure Athlete also in Galway, two absolute gentlemen and what a pleasure it was to be in their company at the CHEK Inspire Conference. I arranged to meet my hurling physical prep coach and great friend Robbie Bourke, it's always a pleasure to spend time with him yet his demand has increased so much of late it is tough.
I was blown away with Paul's lecturing capacity to turn it on and deliver in such detail. If you haven't heard of Paul, his book How to Eat, Move and be Healthy is a must read for everyone.
Image from left to right, Robbie Bourke, Greg Muller, Paul Chek, myself and Pat Divily.
If you have any questions feel free to drop me a mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
Make it happen,
Hi, I’m Lorcan. One of my biggest passions in life is health and well being and after being certified in holistic lifestyle coaching with the chek institute, through simple articles, entertaining podcasts and easy to follow tips that will make a real difference to how people feel everyday. I believe we control our destiny and we can choose to live a long and healthy life by eating right and treating our bodies with respect.