You need to be at your absolute best during the final round. So why take chances? Endurance training alone is not enough.
Fatigue can affect your results. Fatigue can hit even if you are amazingly fit. Physical fatigue is one thing, but many ballroom dancers also ignore the causes of mental and emotional fatigue. On top of that, many dancers travel to compete and need to deal with jet lag. Endurance is critical in ballroom competition. Consider these 15 ways to maximize your endurance during practice and dance competitions. The way you plan and prepare before your dance, makes the biggest difference, and can often mean the difference in your placement.
Manage Jet Lag with Sleep, Movement, Food and Drink.
1. Many people hold back on sleep, hoping that it will help them sleep at the right time in a new time zone. This is generally a huge mistake. Since the quality of your sleep is likely to be lower not matter what you do, try to get more sleep, before, during and after travel, not less. If you can not sleep in an airplane or train, close your eyes and allow yourself deep relaxation. It is much better to adjust to a new time zone when you are well rested than when you are sleep deprived.
2. Most of what we call jet lag is actually due to travel fatigue not time zones. A major reason for travel fatigue is dehydration, which is especially likely when travelling in an airplane. You are also more likely to eat poorly. To counter this, drink more than you normally would, and pay attention to and correct the situation if you are eating much more, much less or a different quality of food that you would normally eat.
3. Your blood flow is also more likely to be less due to lack of movement. This also contributes to travel fatigue. When not sleeping or in deep rest, try to move every part of your body while in your seat and get up and walk around as much as possible. Even just standing periodically is better than just sitting.
Managing Physical Fatigue takes more than Building Endurance
4. Physical fatigue and weakness can occur when the chemical by-products of metabolism build up in your body and brain. Rest allows your body to clear this, and enables the neurons in your brain and the muscles in your body to repair. The right nutrients, blood flow and hydration can also help your body manage these chemicals and delay the onset of fatigue.
5. Eat foods that are high in carbohydrates, and make sure you add foods with vitamin B12 and amino acids such as nuts, fish, meat and eggs, before your dancing. You should always eat at light meal or snack at least 2 hours before you dance. While eating too much fat will weigh you down, eating none at all will leave you very easily tired. You will likely need 25-30% of your calories or 50-100 grams of fat a day, depending on your size.
6. You should always be well hydrated before you start dancing. Yes before. Drink water or an electrolyte rich drink such as a sport drink in the 1-2 hours before your competition or practice. For very strenuous practice and multiple heats, aim for another 1.5L per hour, in no more than 10 to 20 minute intervals.
7. Avoid or limit alcohol and smoking as much as you can. They increase free radical toxins in the body and will wear you down.
8. Warm up. This not only prevents injuries and improves performance, but delays the onset of muscle fatigue by feeding your muscles more oxygen from increase blood flow, so you are better prepared when the intensity starts.
9. Breathe deeply. Shallow breathing limits oxygen, and less oxygen makes you more fatigued and more stressed. Shallow breathing is a common habit that can be broken. Practice breathing deeply through your nose or in through your nose and out through your mouth. Make sure that you can see your chest expand and contract slowly. Also do this 5-6 times before you start dancing and periodically throughout.
10. You can not get around the fact that you need to get enough deep uninterrupted sleep. The dark curtains in hotels will help, so please use them. Also avoid caffeine for at least 6 hours before you want to sleep.
Mental and Emotional Fatigue can impact your performance more than Physical Fatigue.
11. Mental fatigue will cause you to forget your steps, not be in the moment of the dance, and not look as sharp or clear as you otherwise would. You might also not recognize that these things are happening due to mental fatigue because the adrenaline of competition may distract you. All of the things you need to do to prevent physical fatigue are also critical to avoid mental fatigue since your brain is part of your body. In addition there are several others things to consider.
12. Having too much going on at the same time just before or during the comp can cause mental fatigue. Doing a lot of things is great, feeling like you are constantly being distracted is not. You might need to build in quiet time when you can focus on one task without distraction, or down time just to reboot.
13. Also avoid having too many situations in your life where you feel that you cannot be yourself. For many people, being at the studio or on the floor is so wonderful because these are places where you can truly be yourself. If this is not true, or you feel that you are around people you can not accept you for who you are, you might need to make a change. It takes up too much energy not to be your own awesome self.
14. Not feeling challenged or feeling that you are being challenged beyond what you can cope with is yet another risk. It is exhilarating to be feel a bit stretched beyond your comfort zone, and such stretch is necessary for any growth. Too much or too little stretch however, will eventually shut you down.
15. Worry or fear. These are feelings that we all have. The trouble is that they sometimes have little purpose, because we focus only on the negative feelings and not on how to make things better. If you feel worried, try to figure out why and whether you can change the situation. If you can’t, let the feeling go. If you feel fear, try to label the feeling as excitement. The physical symptoms are very similar, but when your brain interprets them as excitement, you keep in the moment and attentive to pleasure. Fear on the other hand can make you impulsive or withdrawn. Do not let this happen. It is much better to focus on the excitement and joy of dancesport, and not let anything get in your way.