Twas the eve before bout day,
And all through my brain,
My mind it was racing,
Faster than the fastest train.
Did I pack all my things?
Did I wash my gear?
What if a lace breaks?
How will I get there?!
The thoughts come unbidden
Making the night restless
Red eyed and bleary, I rise and swear,
Curse you bout day brain! How the hell can I skate with no sleep! Why can’t I ever F&#$ing sleep before a bout!?
So, bout day has crept up on you and now you are in a panic. (I know I do it!) You’re stuck in your head, thinking of all the things you did or did not do, running through drills, plays, skills, and you cannot get calm.
Well, at least you think you can’t.
Eventually, at least I hope, you will see you can form a little routine that will help you stop thinking so harshly about yourself. I hope to help you find that routine, and it all starts, once again… with your mind.
Take a second to think about any of the sporting events you have been to where you can see the athletes before they hit the court/track/field. What are they doing? Some have headphones on and are rocking through pushups and jumping jacks, some are laying on the ground or floor with their eyes closed, and some are gearing up so slowly that it seems they are just sitting there with one skate on and a wrist guard half strapped into place.
I have a few seemingly silly routines that I am going to share with you.
First: The night before. I drink ridiculous amounts of water through the day before a bout. Excessive amounts? Maybe. And yes, I go to the bathroom a lot the night before a bout. I also eat a healthy, yet carbohydrate fueled, dinner. And no alcohol at all for at least 72 hours. Which, when you consider a bouting and practice schedule… means I do not drink anymore.
Next: I go to bed early enough where I will not have to set my alarm. Usually around 10 or 11pm. Early for a Friday, sure. But, worth the extra Zzzz’s in the end. Waking up without an alarm is actually a road to all around better sleep. Because 10pm is my normal “bed time”, it is not a problem for me to get up by 8:30am on the weekends. My body knows, but if yours doesn’t… you may have some sleep training to do!
And now Bout Day!
In the morning, I have coffee, take an extra long and extra hot shower, and try to get a high protein/high carb breakfast. Usually that means OJ, a Bagel with Egg & Bacon, and fruit. The bacon is for my soul, because you need to feed your soul on bout day! No, really!
After all that, I am in my uniform! Sure, it might be 10:15am, and I might have 2-4 hours before I need to leave the house, but hell… I am ready! The car is packed, my gear is set, and now.. I can truly relax. I read, watch TV, read the forums or a chapter in my book, and drink more water. I like to be relaxed.
On the drive to the bout, I like to sing along and rock out to upbeat music. I like this because it keeps me light hearted.
At the bout venue: First, I like to be early. I am almost always early. Wanna carpool with me? Best want to be early. I will gear up super slow; like snails pace. Sometimes I will run in place and walk the track without my skates. Once I have my gear on, you may find me laying on the floor with my headphones on tapping to my music. But, in my mind I am already skating. I am blocking, partnering, and really rocking the track. I then like to do a breathing exercise. I breathe in all the wonderful things about skating, and then I breathe out my nerves.
I like to nibble fruit when I feel relaxed, talk with my team. I may even munch a Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich!
Last season I led the teams I skated with (Skate Free or Die! All Stars, and the Granite Skate Troopers) in some breathing exercises. I hope to again this year. Like a team meditation! Helping them relax, helped me.
You can find simple meditations with a little help from Google or even YouTube!
Everyone has a routine for everything. As humans, we are creatures of habit. We do what makes us feel good when we need it. No, really!
So, getting rid of your bout-day-jitters is all up to you in the long run. Eventually you will find something that helps you get your heart out of your throat, and untie that stomach knot. Last post and this post, I will recommend again the book The Mind Gym. It may be just what your brain needs!
Now… get out there… and skate!