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Driving to events - what you need to do!

10 December 2010 Andrew Verdon

Driving to events

"Driving to events"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

Unless it is at your local club, most of the time you will find that the Etchells National Championship is, in the very least, a short drive away. Often, however, it is Interstate and will involve a one or even two-day drive, maybe longer again if you are from Western Australia.

Many times I have heard stories of people arriving with a perfectly prepared boat, but complaining of a stiff or sore back from the journey. So let's look at some things you can do to avoid a last minute sore or painful body from affecting all the preparation work you have put into your big event of the summer.

Driving a long distance has many similarities to a long haul flight of 12 hours plus to the likes of Asia, Europe or North America. You are hot or cold, cramped, uncomfortable, eating poorly (as you can only eat what is available at times) and can find the whole experience tiring and unpleasant.

The first step to arriving fresh and in good shape is what we call the "pre-departure state". In sports science, this is how you present to travel. You want to be well rested, fresh and carrying no fatigue. So in the last one or two days before you are to travel, try to eat well, keep hydrated and do not reduce your sleep. If you are travelling close to Christmas/Boxing Day/New Year's Day, then think about your food intake and sleep patterns over this time.

Try to set your car up to be as comfortable a possible. If you are the designated driver, then set the seat up at the correct seat height, distance and adjust the wheel and mirrors to avoid putting your neck, shoulders and back in uncomfortable positions for long periods. It is a good idea to set the lumbar support to max or if not fitted, then a folded up towel will work well too. If you change drivers, then take the time to set the driver's space up for your height and size. If you are a passenger, try to put all the bags in the back seat or boot, so that you have plenty of space and legroom.

Once driving, be safe and sensible; stop every two hours and get some fresh air and some circulation. Park safely and have a walk, a drink, check the trailer and go to the toilet. Even do a few squats to get the hips moving. Plan the trip and the best time to travel - morning, all day or afternoon and evening. Avoid driving all night, as this will get you there quickly, but is high risk and the lack of sleep will affect your racing performance.

If travelling for two days or more, then a motel with a pool is a great option. When you arrive, have a walk in the pool, swim a few laps and aim to have a light stretch before bed. You can do the same thing in the morning to get ready for the day. It may take 15 minutes extra, but your body will appreciate it at the end of the day. The important areas to stretch are the legs, hips back and chest/shoulders.

When you arrive and before racing off to registration and catching up on the pre-regatta scuttlebutt, aim to do a few standing stretches and a few squats/spine twists to get the hips/legs and back moving. Give the shoulders a few rolls to put some movement into your shoulders after a long drive. If you have a pool at your accommodation, then as before, go for a walk, swim in the pool and do some stretching before going to bed.

Follow these tips and you should minimise impact the long drive has on your regatta.

Food tips en route:

It is tempting to fill up on low quality snacks and meals at fast food outlets and petrol stations during your journey. A good way to avoid this is to plan for it and prepare some food for before the trip. Always have a bottle of water with you to keep hydrated and avoid too many soft and "energy" drinks.

The sports nutrition department from the AIS says, "Good snack choices include cereal bars, sports bars, liquid meal supplements, fresh fruit, as well as dried fruit and nut mixes. High fibre snacks can be useful (e.g. wholemeal breakfast bars and dried fruit), if you tend to become constipated on long journeys.

All of this can be bought at the supermarket before you leave. Sandwiches and rolls make a great, portable and cost effective food choice on the first day out of home - just make them the night before or in the morning before you leave to avoid the burger food stop!

Contact Andrew


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