3 Secrets to Survive Two-A-Days

// How to survive two a days

It’s that time of the year again. Summer is coming to an end and September is right around the corner which means one thing… It’s almost football season and two-a-days are here.

If you are a fan of football you think of “Friday Night Lights” for High School football games and watching college football on Saturday and NFL games on Sunday.

Your entire weekend can completely revolve around football, if you want it to. But if you are an athlete right about now you are probably fearing fall camp and dreading the infamous “two-a-days.”

There has been a ton of controversy over these “hell weeks” that most football teams go through. From scorching summer temperatures, to dehydration, to mental/verbal abuse from coaches on players, these camps are highly scrutinized.

As important as two-a-days are, it is the coaches’ responsibility to prepare their athletes for this type of training. TrainHeroic wants to set your athletes up for success, so here are three secrets to surviving and thriving during “two-a-days.”

Lock down your Eating

Does it surprise you that nutrition is #1 on our list for surviving “two-a-days?”  It shouldn’t as we have often strongly voiced our opinion on the importance of nutrition when it comes to your training.

It rings even more true when it comes to your double days because you have to recover from your first practice sufficiently to attack your second practice.  If there is no recovery, you are doing yourself and your team a disservice and truly are at risk of injury.

Make sure you are eating a well-balanced breakfast (all macro-nutrients: proteins, carbs, and fats) in a timely fashion before your first practice.  You want to leave yourself ample amount of time to digest your breakfast so that you can use those nutrients for your performance. The last thing you want is to see your breakfast on the football field after taking your first couple steps during the warm-up.

An ideal scenario would be to eat your breakfast no later than 90 minutes before your practice, so if your practice is at 9am you need to be able to get up early enough and be finished by 7:30am. If it is important enough to you, which it should be, then you will get up!

For the meal, I suggest a 3-egg omelet with plenty of veggies and meats (my favorite is spinach, bell peppers, and onions with turkey) and covered in salsa and avocado.  I would also recommend eating some starchy carbs (think sweet potato or white rice) to provide you with some energy for your long day ahead.

In between practices you need to re-fuel and re-fuel fast! Again, we’re thinking all your macro-nutrients. Hopefully you have packed a lunch with your meats, veggies, fruits, and nuts handy but if you don’t this is a perfect time for a protein/recovery shake.

You will need to re-fuel your body again after the second practice with a large dinner with plenty of carbs.  Think sweet potatoes, white rice, red potatoes, and some kind of mix of lean meats with lots of vegetables and fruits.

At night, eat until you are full and maybe a little extra. Not only will this help you for your recovery tomorrow but this will help put your body to sleep as you feel well-fed. 

During this time of two-a-days I highly recommend you start crushing sweet potatoes, they are an athlete’s best friend for performance and recovery.  Sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates that are needed during exercise; 1 cup contains 41 grams of carbs, mainly consisting of glucose, which is the primary fuel for your muscles.

Learn to love these tasty little performance enhancers.  I bake 4 or 5 at a time for 45 minutes at 350 degrees and let cool.  Once they cool, I peal the skin off and put the remains in a Tupperware, I add about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and 3 tablespoons of cinnamon and mix all together.  Should taste sweet but also give you a great side to any meal.  I carry my sweet potatoes in a Tupperware and bring them with me at all times, they become an easy post-workout/post-practice snack that I can easily consume in a timely manner while refueling for my next workout/practice.

Stay Hydrated For Peak Performance

Dehydration kills performance!

1% dehydration effects 10% of your performance and thus the more dehydrated you become, the more your performance will suffer. 

Water needs to be your primary source of fluids during your “two-a-days” and I would highly recommend always carrying around a gallon water jug during your camp.

  • Two to three hours before practice, drink 17 to 25 ounces of water.
  • Consume another 10 to 15 ounces of water 30 minutes before practice.
  • After practice, for every hour of exercise that you partake in, you need to add an extra 20 ounces of water.

I cannot stress this enough, DRINK MORE WATER!

It is also important to stay hydrated by replacing the electrolytes that you lost during your practices and training.  But what is an electrolyte and how do I replace them?

Electrolytes are substances that contain free ions making them electrically conductive, and physiologically the primary ions of electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, hydrogen phosphate, and hydrogen carbonate. These are important for hydration, blood pH, and critical to proper nerve and muscle function.

If we don’t replenish our electrolytes correctly your performance will suffer. You can have muscle weakness during athletic competition and/or severe muscle cramping.

But we don’t want to replace these electrolytes with the typical sports drink (thanks MJ for making us love Gatorade) because these sugary “refreshments” are full of high fructose corn syrup and can, in the long run, actually hinder performance. 

We have found that the best place to start for replenishing electrolytes is from pure natural coconut water; it naturally contains five essential electrolytes, plus more potassium than a banana.  It’s the most natural way to rehydrate and replenish lost nutrients and electrolytes.

Take Time During The Day To Rest and Recover

Rest is a huge part of recovery and should not be overlooked by either coach or athlete. When it comes to two a days, this goes for both in between the practices and at night.

In between the two practices, athletes should try to get out of their practice uniforms, shower and get somewhere cool where you can relax and let your core temperature drop.

I highly encourage taking anywhere from a 20-30 minute nap as it will reset your body and get you recovered for your next practice.  In general, a power nap will eliminate sleepiness and fatigue during the day and reduce recovery times through increased energy regeneration.  It will also boost your immune system and control that inflammation and soreness from your earlier practice.

Both coaches and athletes alike need to know that after a nap and between the two practices you need allow plenty of time for the athlete to re-warm up and recalibrate their bodies.  Make sure your warm up raises the core temperature high enough and gets the athletes ready for their next practice.  Some general calisthenics such as burpees, jumping jacks, push-ups, and squats are a perfect combination to get the body refreshed and ready for more work.

These are just a few of the most important things to consider during “two-a-days” that both the athletes and coaches need to know going into and during camp.

Dial in your Nutrition, Hydration, and Rest and you will get through camp unscathed and thriving!

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