Fencing Tournament Follow-up

Note: this is a follow-up to this post: http://jeffammons.net/2011/04/fencing-tournament-physical-and-nutritional-preparation/

Alright, so I survived two tournaments since posting last. The first one on May 1st was a much tougher crowd as it was a regional qualifier, meaning I was fencing pretty much strictly highly rated fencers. I knew that going in though, and I think I got some useful learning out of it. I finished 33/36, so not dead last which I suppose I can be happy about. I also lost my direct elimination to a B, but only 8-15 or something like that. The second one, on May 7th was a D and under tournament, which meant that only unrated and lower rated (as it turned out, about  7-8 E’s and the rest unrated). I did better in this one, but felt more frustrated as I lost my first direct elimination to a very closely matched fencer whom I could have beat.

Ok, so on to the diet and preparation. Let’s start with the first tournament. Training-wise, I felt like I was in pretty good condition. Most of my sore spots were healed and I felt good to go. My energy levels remained high the whole time (the 2 hours or so that it took). I ate eggs and bacon for breakfast about 1 1/2 hours before starting to fence. I had a glass of cold green tea about 45 minutes before starting to fence to try to wake myself up. I didn’t sleep well the night before. I felt like my blood sugars were good throughout, so I didn’t feel the need to eat much of what I’d brought. I did have a few strawberries every 15-20 minutes or so just in case though. All in all, I would say that the low-carb/high fat approach leading up with some carb consumption day of seemed to work well.

The second tournament was a bit harder on me, primarily because I didn’t take it quite as seriously. Also, I had pretty badly strained my thumb the Sunday previous. I tried to make a good effort to keep it iced and immobile during the week, then taped it pretty heavily for the tournament. It hurt a bit, but seemed strong enough to handle most everything. I did have to avoid a few parrying movements which hurt, but they’re not common ones, so it wasn’t a huge detriment. For this tournament, I tried the same strategy for nutrition. I ate eggs for breakfast (I ran out of bacon). Unfortunately, the tournament didn’t start until 1:30, and it was a 2 1/2 hour drive away, and I hadn’t planned a lunch, so I had to rely on a stick of pemmican to keep energized. I also had a few glasses of green tea — I had trouble sleeping again (this may have been related to things other than fencing nerves though). I also brought along the remaining strawberries, but wished that I’d brought the banana as well as I ended up feeling hypoglycemic towards the end of my direct elimination bout. I had felt it coming too and finished off all of the strawberries to try to avoid it, but it didn’t seem like enough and I got sluggish (this could also have been hydration to a large degree).

Lessons learned: plan ahead and bring more than I need. I will continue this approach to fueling my fencing though, as it seemed to keep my functioning throughout the day and I didn’t feel foggy-headed or sluggish except in the end of the second tournament. We’ll see how it holds up in a tournament situation where I manage to get out of the first round of the direct elims though.

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