I think most of us have the same question burning question going through ours heads all day every day, "HOW DO I GET BETTER AS AN OCR ATHLETE?!?!"
The obvious answer to this plague of a question is to train better. Training better doesn't necessarily mean training more, but simply training more efficiently. What happens though, if you are already doing all the training you can handle right now? Do you just have to wait? Well, no!
Here are 4 different methods you can use to help improve your performance that don't require you to workout more.
Spend Time In The Sauna
I'm going to put this in the most simple possible terms I can so everyone can understand it. If you spend 15-25 minutes in a sauna, after exercise, without having drank abnormally large portions of water before going into the sauna, your body will react to the effect of the sauna by increasing blood plasma levels.
This leads to greater performance, and doesn't require you to be working out to do so. All you need is access to a sauna, and time to spend in it. Recommendations vary slightly, but roughly 3 sessions of 20 minutes per week for several weeks will result in noticeable performance increases.
The unheralded, undervalued, underappreciated, underutilized wonder of sleep. Sleep is when your body repairs. More so than just sitting around doing nothing (though that's a good idea too), if you don't sleep enough to properly recover from your training, you won't see the maximum benefits from your training. While I linked sources for the Sauna paragraph above, I'll not do so regarding sleep. There are literally thousands of resources that will back up this information. If you are feeling tired randomly during the week, if you are feeling abnormally stressed, or if you simply know that you don't sleep enough, then fix it. This doesn't have to mean going from 6 hours of sleep each night to 10. Even small changes will make a big difference.
For those struggling to get to enough sleep, try getting to bed just 30 minutes sooner. Most people are watching TV, or are on their phones before they go to sleep. Cut the screen time by JUST 30 minutes each evening, and you'll get 3 1/2 more hours of sleep each week (that's 182 hours per year!). Obviously, ideals are ideal, and if you can get up to 8+ hours of sleep per night, go for it.
I bet some of you read "eat correctly" and immediately thought I was going to talk about Intermittent Fasting, Keto, Paleo, or some other fad (oops, did I say that?) diet. No no no. This is all about the QUALITY of the food you eat.
Fact: Different foods affect different people differently. For instance, I am not lactose intolerant, so I can drink milk until the cows come home and never have issues. However, someone who is lactose intolerant...yeah, poop everywhere.
You need to find out what foods your body handles well. There are different companies that help with this through testing. This can be extremely beneficial. However, that testing can also be expensive. If you don't have the money for it, follow the two-step process I've listed below to find out what foods work for you.
1: Is it real food? If yes, try it. Test it out! Take note of how you feel, your quality of sleep, your level of mental clarity, and your sports/workout performance. If all goes well and you don't have any digestive issues, it may be good to keep having! This isn't something that you can, or should, do in one day, but something that you can be doing constantly over time.
2: Is it fake food? If yes, leave it alone. What exactly is fake food, you might ask? Fast food, highly processed foods with lots of additives, sodas, candies, and sadly, most baked goods that are packaged. They are fake foods because they will, in almost all cases, have a myriad of low-quality ingredients, in quantities not good for most people, in order to make them taste better, look better, or have a longer "shelf life". Essentially, they are products, developed by companies to sell as many portions of as possible, made to be as addictive as possible, in order for companies to make as much money as possible.
Get A Coach
As I am a personal trainer and OCR coach, and since you are reading this blog on the Trio Fitness OCR Blog, you may have rightly assumed to see this section included. However, just to prove that I am 100% sincere about this topic, I haven't included any links to our coaching in this article. It doesn't matter to us if you sign up with us, or a different coach (as long as they are a good coach). What matters to us is that you reach the highest possible point you can in your OCR performance. If that means training with someone else, go for it!
What a coach will do for you:
1: Help remove your own personal biases about workouts, exercises, etc.
I know exactly what exercises I don't like, and even though I know I should do them, I probably don't do them as much as I should if I am left to my own devices. Luke (my brother and co-owner of Trio Fitness OCR) and I talk about our training with each other frequently. We bounce ideas off of each other, and often times I will tell him I am going to start implementing something into my training, that I personally don't enjoy, but will be beneficial to me, so that I knock my own biases out of the way.
2: Hold you accountable.
I touched on it in the paragraph above. It makes a world of a difference to have someone interested and invested in your goals with you. Having them know what you are going to do, and having to do that thing because you know they are expecting it and excited for you to accomplish it, provides a level of motivation and determination that you likely won't get on your own.
3: Efficiently program your training for optimal performance.
Though my brain lives in a world of fitness, I realize that the vast majority of people in the world don't know much about training. That's not a bad thing. They are great at other things and are leading the way in other fields! The fact is though, that most people won't be able to put together a strong, efficient program for themselves that safely guides them to increased levels of fitness.
There you go! 4 very manageable ways you can begin improving as an OCR athlete without having to do more workouts.
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Joel Hayes (Coach & Article Author)
Luke Hayes (Coach)