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The Importance of Diet and Exercise in Competition

Tips on proper exercise and diet to make your competition day the best it can be.

by Kari Massoth

Everybody hates the word "diet" and even more hated is the word "exercise". However, as competitors, whether we like it or not, three to five times a day on trial weekends, we exercise for 30-50 seconds at a time. And even though it may not seem like much, we still need to fuel our bodies for the time spent exercising.

You may be asking, but why? That time running doesn't really add up to too much. But it does when we add in walking the courses, walking the pups before and after runs, working classes, etc. I wear an activity tracker, and it does give me sense of accomplishment at the end of a day when I see 20,000 in steps, or seven miles built up after one day at an agility trial. The day is much busier than what was preconceived.

Now, time to talk about fuel for our bodies. Most people should be taking in 2,000-2,200 calories on average per day (source). If I'm tracking how much energy I'm exerting during the day it comes to about 2,500-3,000 calories. It shows that I am burning more calories in a day than what is being consumed. This is great news for those participating in agility to lose weight (along with growing their relationship with their dog) but we also need to fuel our bodies throughout the day, otherwise we will peter out midday and our brain will be foggy.

How do we fuel our bodies for optimum performance and fight brain fatigue? Here few quick tips to help:

  1. Avoid processed foods: also known as "comfort" food, these meals are stripped of all nutrients, are high in sodium, and other compounds that will slow you down.
  2. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables: these are high in nutrients and clean sugars that will keep you going in the day. Bananas are wonderful to help fight brain fatigue, give you energy and fight muscle cramps.
  3. Avoid caffeine: this is odd, since usually caffeine is supposed to get you going. But, most will grab an energy drink, soda, or cold mocha drink. Almost all of these drinks are high in sugar and other preservatives whichwill only make you have a high energy level for a short amount of time before crashing. If you're going to go the route of energy drinks, make sure it is the vitamins in the drink that will help you get going, or black coffee.
  4. Take stock in lean proteins: Chicken and fish are amazing proteins to eat on agility trial days! They are high quality proteins, and provide the energy needed for a long day. Also, they are easy to pack within your cooler or bags since you can get them pre-packaged.
  5. Nuts, nuts, and more nuts: nuts are also very easy to pack and munch on between runs. If you can eat raw, unsalted nuts, they provide the most nutrients for your snack, but I think any choice of nuts is better than the other options available.
  6. High quality H2O: drink water. This will help aid in fighting muscle cramps, and hydrate your body. If you're wondering how much water is the "right" amount, there are many different views on this. I follow the half your body weight in ounces rule, but on super hot days, my water consumption goes up drastically.

It is understandable that everyone is different, and there are allergies to take into consideration. Listen to your bodies, and see what works best for you. I work with a personal trainer and nutritionist to help make sure that I am on track with my nutritional and competitive goals. I would encourage anyone reading this to do the same. I'm excited to hear and exchange different ideas and opinions, so I hope you comment and share.

Kari Massoth entered the world of agility in 2011, and has been competing since 2013. She is currently running her Doberman. Kari also teaches beginner agility in Boise, ID. Her goal with training is to build bonds between teams and have fun while doing it. Kari focuses on teaching handling techniques from One Mind Dog and works with the handler to understand how the dog sees the course.


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