Whether you’re at a long training clinic or away at a tournament, there are some days in your fencing career that are going to be just plain long. True fatigue can have a huge impact not only on your physical abilities, but your mental strength as well. The activity, gear, and long hours can do a number on you if you’re not aware and prepared.

Only Wear What You Need

Carry your fencing gear with you, but don’t wear your mask and gloves until you’re absolutely ready to compete or practice. Your enclosed mask limits the availability of fresh air, which means you’re breathing in a little more CO2 than you should. This will make you feel a little tired. The weight of of your gear will fatigue your muscles and once you start moving you will start sweating. These things combined can be quite uncomfortable. Give your body the chance to breathe as often as possible.

Carry Small Snacks

Competition days especially can be very long, especially if you are fighting in several different event categories. It can be difficult to get a solid meal, which will only add to your overall sense of fatigue. Eat a good, balanced breakfast before you leave the house and make sure you are carrying small snacks that are easy to digest. Large meals aren’t ideal before a competition anyway, as they’ll make you feel sluggish. Carry some small, easy-to-digest snacks so you can fuel between activities.

Make sure you are staying hydrated, too. While sports drinks are great, you should still supplement with water. Avoid coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages on tournament day.

Sit and Rest

There is absolutely no reason at all for you to be on your feet from start to finish on competition day. Find a place to sit. Take a folding chair with you if that’s what it takes to make sure you can rest between events. Your body needs a chance to relax and rejuvenate and there is no guarantee the facility where you are competing will have enough space for spectators and competitors to sit.

Carry a Change of Clothes

Carry a couple of clean shirts and pairs of clean socks. As silly as it sounds, changing into a sweat-free shirt and clean socks can make you feel as though you’ve peeled away a layer of grime, rejuvenating you for your next match. Change your clothes before you leave for the day as well so that you aren’t running around in sweaty, uncomfortable clothes as you head out to meet your team, eat, and drive home.

Get Some Sleep

Last but not least, get a good night’s sleep the night before your event. While we know you’ll be excited and may have trouble sleeping, don’t make matters worse by purposely staying up half the night partying with friends or playing video games. Create a relaxing environment and get as much shut-eye as you can so you can start the day fresh.

There are a lot of factors that can impact the way we feel throughout the day, especially when the stress of competing is eating away at us. Talk to your coach if you don’t feel right or if you need help staying focused. We’ve all been there before and are ready to support you throughout the entire day.