Thompson Rivers University

Nutrition, sleep, hygiene and the WolfPack student-athlete

February 27, 2019

Here is a typical Monday as a TRU student-athlete as told by volleyball player Anton Napolitano.

Anton Napolitano is a third-year student, and is the setter on the TRU WolfPack Men’s Volleyball team. Anton comes from the Land Down Under, a place where spiders kill, snakes slither into houses and kangaroos punch through the door.  Recently admitted into the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Anton has narrowed his focus to English and sociology, while also taking math and theatre to feed a burning desire for overall knowledge.

Here is a typical Monday as a TRU student-athlete, with perspectives on the importance of sleep, meal prep and overall well being.

6:30 a.m.: Wake up after a restful nine-hour sleep. Sleep is the most important form of recovery; consistent bed time and wake-up times are the key. For me, anything less than nine hours will render me partly useless the following day. Furthermore, according to Matthew Walker who is a professor of neuroscience at the University of California (and interviewed by my favorite podcast host Joe Rogan), “sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting.”

Thus, for athletes, it is essential that we are getting enough sleep to fully recover.

6:40 a.m.: Walk to the Tournament Capital Centre for a workout. I walk everywhere, I don’t own a car or a full driver’s licence. During this walk, I’ll listen to a Joe Rogan podcast or enjoy silence, as I try to focus on my breathing and the nature during the whole walk.

7:00 a.m.: Fasted workout with strength and conditioning coach. I like to do these on an empty stomach. Makes it more challenging😉. We typically do a more intense legwork on Mondays, which include variations on: weighted squats coupled with squat jumps, weighted lunges coupled with lunge jumps, core, mobility and stretching.

During the second semester (second half of the season) when bodies are starting to break down a little bit, we may do more recovery and injury prevention exercises.

8:00 a.m.: Finish strength and conditioning and either do an individual volleyball workout or stretch and roll for an hour.

Finally, eat brekky! This is always a pre-made meal of bacon and eggs to get protein and healthy fats that are necessary for post-workout, without taking extra time out of my morning to cook.

9:30-10:20 a.m.: Class.

10:20 a.m.: Mealtime. Usually a smaller snack of ribs and vegetables. Yes, you heard right, ribs for breakfast (take that cereal!)  I prefer to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day in order to avoid the sleepy spell that comes after a big, filling meal. I am also sure to avoid starchy (aside from sweet potatoes) or processed carbs and focus my diet on fruit, meat and vegetables. This reduces the chance of the carb crash, which often occurs after eating too many carbohydrates.

 10:30 a.m.: Walk home to do some meal prep. Shopping and cooking in bulk saves me a lot of time. I aim to make enough that will last me at least three days before having to stock back up.

Whatever kind of meat is on special at Superstore, I tend to buy in bulk. So, if mincemeat (more commonly known as ground beef in Canada) is on special, I know I’m going to be eating A LOT of tacos for the next week.

The crockpot/slow-cooker is such a handy tool to use. If I’m cooking ribs I’ll often marinate vegetables, seasoning and ribs in a container overnight, then in the morning before I leave the house I’ll chuck them in the crockpot. When I get home in a few hours, voila, dinner is served!

12:30 p.m.: Another meal consisting of meat and vegetables with side of fruit. I’ve just started to get into edamame spaghetti. Toss in some sauce and your choice of meat to get more of a protein hit than regular pasta. Just don’t add any more beans to it, or things could get smelly!

2:30-4:20 p.m.: While I don’t typically like to eat during class, I do bend the rules if a session falls two hours before practice, which is when I fit in my pre-training carbohydrates.

4:30-6:30 p.m.: Monday practices are typically less intense than other days as we are often still recovering from the weekend.

We work on some basic things like serving and passing and try to keep the jumping to a minimum (especially considering we work out Monday mornings). Usually ending with some sort of six-on-six game play.

6:30-8:30 p.m.: PACE (Pack Academic Edge) session. This program is designed for WolfPack athletes to study in an assisted area.

Now that my day is coming to close to an end, I need lots of carbohydrates to restore energy. More sweet potato and… yup, you guessed it, more meat (creative, I know…) with a lovely mix of fruit, nuts and honey as a kind of dessert. I do like to have fruit later at night when I can afford to start to feel full and sleepy.

9:00 p.m.: Time to prepare for tomorrow. I leave my phone in another room and dim the lights. Matthew Walker also noted in that Joe Rogan podcast, “one hour of iPhone use before bed will delay the onset of melatonin production by about three hours (your peak melatonin levels will also be about 50 percent less).” My evening routine allows my body to increase melatonin levels to prepare for a better sleep.

I like to end my day with a good book to help quiet my mind, followed with a brief mediation to calm myself before sleeping.

9:30 p.m.: Asleep, recovering for the next day.

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