No Days Off: A Survivor’s Guide for Overcoming 2-a-Days

What’s up everyone?!

I want to talk to you guys about a brilliant concept known as “2-a-days.” If you have not yet experienced them yet…you will. If you have then you know how common they are, and more so how much they royally suck. I endured the dreaded 2-a-days, sometimes 3-a-days in high school, in college, and in the pros. To conquer them it starts with a certain mentality that all great athletes must have. Now, because I’ve experienced them at all levels I’m going to talk you all through it so that you don’t make the same mistakes as me, and even better I can provide some help and insight via hindsight.

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In high school, the mentality I approached 2-a-days with was simply survival. I didn’t really know anything else other than that. I just woke up thinking, “Oh, dear lord, let me get through this.”

That’s what went through my head when I was 16 years old. It passes everyone’s thoughts at some point. If I didn’t admit that I’d ask you to check to see if I’m actually a human being. The good news is, it’s okay to think that (occasionally). The flip side: that mentality has to go eventually–kick it to the curb. From here on out, hold yourself to a higher standard. Kids are maturing at a younger age now, so there is no excuse. Most of the physically demanding parts that make 2-a-days difficult are completely doable. It is the mental aspect that absolutely crushes people. They are defeated before lacing up their shoes. You will find, as did I, the days where my attitude and mentality were filled with eagerness, positivity, and enthusiasm were the days that were as vibrant as my semi-athletic handles. When I woke up dreading workouts, and dreading whatever the coaches were going to put me through, that ugly energy showed even more. The biggest key to success is to be a WARRIOR. Conquer the day, don’t let it conquer you.

My mentality was my first emphasis because, I’ll be honest, it’s what separates the good from great, and great from legendary. 2-a-days are designed to push players’ limits physically but also to eliminate the mentally weak and fragile athletes. That’s why coaches employ them. When it’s all said and done and you make it through two weeks of 2-a-days, and you look to your left and then look to your right you see those players who battled with you. Those are the ones who touched every line, every cone, dog tired, right? You trust them now, you respect them, and guess what? The coaches now trust you, and respect you. If that doesn’t fire you up and make you want to get out there and throw some weight around or cross someone up and run down the court I don’t know what else to tell ya! Get that PT now, y’all. You earned it.

Lets not be foolish here, though. The physical side is still a heavy load, and grueling. Here are three pivotal areas that can be game-changers.

+ Dynamic warm-up and stretching is vital!
I had horrible struggles with tight hip flexors, which led to a boatload of other injuries because of my stubbornness to sit down and stretch or properly warm-up. Due to the fact that you will be putting your body through physically-taxing exercises, make sure to arrive early and be prepared even before you are required to warm-up. It will only be beneficial for not just the workout you are about to go through, but the following one.

+ Hydration
Some people judge me for carrying around a gallon jug of water everywhere I go, but when they’re cramping up and I’m not…I really don’t care. After workouts I like to get in as many electrolytes as I can so I’ll drink a Gatorade or Powerade after working out. It contains the right amount of simple sugars that your body needs right away when it’s depleted as well as electrolytes that are essential after sweating up a storm. I prefer water as I’m working out, but everyone is different. Regardless, HYDRATE.

+ Food/Fuel
I can’t tell you what to eat, I’m not a nutritionist. I can’t say don’t NOT eat before working out because there are some that maybe function better without food in their stomachs. What I can tell you is what I know from my personal experience. The night before you know you have 2-a-days, eat a big meal, a nice dinner with good amounts of protein (25-30 grams), vegetables (1-2 cups), and most importably, carbohydrates. Pasta, potatoes, rice, anything of that nature. No one here needs to join society and this “fear the carb trend.” It’s stupid. Those carbohydrates will be your fuel for your morning workouts. They are slow…and take hours to digest.

So when you’re running sprints in the morning, or tackling a running back, you are using that energy from your dinner to propel you for your workout. I always like to have some food in my stomach because my metabolism is very fast so I need food in the a.m., and tend to go with oatmeal and eggs because it digests well. In-between workouts, optimize your hydration, proteins, and carbohydrates (especially fruit). You will be depleted and restoring those levels will make a world of a difference.

The thing is, looking back, I knew none of this. I had no one telling me about nutrition. Hydrate, yeah, I mean, mom told me to bring a Zephyrhills to practice. So what? *Kanye shrug* All of this information is right at your fingertips with excellent studies on athletic performance that you could further research if you want to get more serious. It truly makes a world of a difference, so much so that I wish I knew what I know now so I could have been better back in my day. But that’s why I’m here to help guide y’all out.

Happy training.

Follow Steffi on Twitter at @steffisorensen

image via K.M. Klemencic/Flickr Creative Commons