Strategies to make the most out of your performance at the XI World Karate Championship in Santiago, Chile

At the moment of writing this blog post, there are 32 days until the BIG Karate event that many karatekas have been waiting and preparing for. This event will take in an exotic place in South America, more precisely Chile, Santiago. And the event we talk about is nothing less but the 2019 World Cadet, Junior and U21 Karate championship. Having on mind that karate will be represented at the Olympic Games for the first time in Tokyo 2020, getting a medal from a world champion is the biggest dream of every karate athlete. 

https://www.wkf.net/world-championships-main/junior/

By this point, everyone is in their final phase of preparation. Kata and kumite competitors are working on details, trying to get their technical performance together with speed and power into a perfect balance, and take all that potential to Chile. The final 2-3 weeks are crucial in the periodization process. If something goes wrong here, then the whole effort is for nothing. 

After we wrap everything up, it is time to deliver the package to its final destination. However, the package (body, mind, performance) might not be the same ones it reaches its final destination (Chile). It might get compromised, exposed to free radicals, desynchronized, shaken (not broken), and in some way changed. You get a watch that shows different time and needs to be calibrated and synchronized to the local time if you want to perform well. 

What I am talking about here is your circadian clock (day-night rhythm). This is the internal build-in clock that tells your body when its time to eat, sleep, work, even poop, which gets affected when we travel and change time zones. Unless you live in South America, you’ll have to take this into consideration. 

Now the best thing you can do is to get to Chile 3-4 weeks before the completion. An ideal scenario that not many karate federations can afford. Let’s be realistic. The majority will arrive 3-4 days before the big tournament, leaving the athletes with limited amount of time to prepare, rest, sync., and perform at the best level. 

For this reason, I would like to share the following inexpensive tactics to help you mitigate the adverse effects of travel and changing time zones. 

Tactics for beating jet lag and restarting circadian rhythm

Light manipulation and time zones

Remember, the adjustment happens before you get on the plane, and arrive in Chile. Trying to sort things out after arriving is too late. So the first step would be to find out what is the local time in Santiago, and the time difference. If you are somewhere in Europe, you would be 4 to 6 hours ahead. This means if it is 3 a.m. in Berlin, then in Santiago is 10 p.m. (Yesterday). If you are in Asia, Singapore, that you would be 11 hours ahead. So at this point, it is 9 a.m. Saturday in Singapore, while in Santiago is 10 p.m. on Friday. 

So, step one, find the time difference. 

Step two get blue light blocking glasses. This is where light manipulation kicks in. You need to be able to control your BLUE Light exposure when traveling. Thus, you will be able to regulate hormone production (melatonin) to a certain extent. As a result, you will synchronize your biological clock faster.

This is a picture of the blue light blocking glasses I use. You can see the difference in colors. Everything looks yellow due to the absence of the blue color.

So how and when to use the blue light blocking glasses? 

Start using them before the trip to get used to them. Put them on in the evening 2 hour before going to bed and feel the difference. 

On the travel-day start wearing them the moment the sun sets down in Santiago. Yes, Santiago, not Berlin or Singapore. For example: If my flight from Berlin is at 7 a.m. (1 a.m. Santiago) I would put the glasses from the moment I wake up. I want to trick the body it is still dark outside, as it is in Santiago. At 1 p.m. local time while flying take the off glasses since it is sunrise in Santiago. Proceed with this tactic until you reach your final destination. Keep doing the same after you get to Chile.

Step two: get blue light blocking glasses

Avoid airplane or any food if possible

Fasting is a powerful tool for restarting the circadian rhythm. Moreover, it will prevent from eating when it is not a mealtime. Remember, the moment you wake up and get on the plane, you want to do things like you are already in Santiago. So having a meal at 3 a.m. (Santiago) is not a smart choice. If you’ve done some fasting in the past, then, stay with no food while flying, no matter how tempting it smells and looks like. If this is too much for you, then have a healthy snack with you and eat according to Santiago’s time zone. 

Stay hydrated and avoid coffee (caffeinated drinks) 

Up there 10,000 feet above, you lose water fasters, and it is quite easy to dehydrate. So keep sipping water and avoid caffeine (coffee) and least when it is not a time for it. 

https://www.cntraveler.com/story/this-is-how-much-water-you-should-drink-on-a-plane

You have arrived in Santiago 

Pay attention to your first meal 

Proper meal timing, especially after a fast, will help to align the circadian rhythm with the local time. If you arrive at 2 a.m. do not put anything inside your body. If you arrive during the daytime, wait until lunch or dinner for your first meal.

The type of food and the ration of macronutrients is something everyone should consider. Make sure the breakfast and lunch are reach in protein and low in carbs. High protein meals during the day, followed by a high carbohydrate meal for dinner has been shown to assist in synchronizing the circadian clock of travelers. Dinner reach in carbs will facilitate the release of hormone serotonin and enhance your sleep quality. 

Expose to sunlight 

I know we spend a lot of money on sunglasses, but try to wear them as less as possible. You want to expose your body and eyes to sunlight. The photoreceptors in your eyes will help you restart your circadian rhythm. First thing in the morning go to the nearest park to absorb some sunshine and enjoy the city sightseeing without sunglasses.

https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/22897/20190716/exposure-sunlight-linked-winning-against-several-diseases.htm

Grounding-Earthing 

Walk barefoot. Spend some time in the local park in the morning while walking barefoot. Your body absorbs the natural magnetic field through the earth surface, which helps in synchronization of the circadian clock. While barefoot, you can stretch, do some mobility exercises and even a short karate training. An easy aerobic workout will help your body to adjust to the new time zone. 

https://aminoapps.com/c/astral-projection-obe/amp/blog/grounding-earthing/Rrkz_wn1iwu1LoJ0kXN26Ml1Vnw6x1RVJ45

Supplements – before going to bad

Do not take supplementation before arriving to Santiago, unless it is done with doctors’ supervision. The information below is only for informational purposes. Please talk to you’re your team doctor or physician before you decide to take any of the suggested supplements. This supplements are not on the banded WADA list.

Melatonin 

Melatonin is a hormone that dictates your day-night rhythm. It gets secreted by the pineal gland when the sun goes down and decreases ones you get exposed to sunlight or artificial light. To restart the bodies build-in clock and put the whole process back on track, you can supplement with melatonin for the first 3-4 days at your new destination. This will help you fall a sleep easier and reduce the sleep latency time (time it takes to fall a sleep). 

Dosing

  • take from 0.5 mg up to 5 mg of melatonin for three-four nights (or until adjusted). You can start with 3 mg for the first two-three nights and slowly decrease to 1 mg;
  • take it one hour before your regular bedtime;
  • put your blue light blocking glasses. This will facilitate the natural release of melatonin; 

Wrapping up

Information to take with you when planning your trip to Santiago, Chile:

  • Calculate the time difference/zones to know when to wear your blue light blocking glasses;
  • Get a blue light blocking glasses;
  • Do not eat during flight, or eat when appropriate;
  • Expose to sunlight at your destination;
  • Ground yourself by walking barefoot;
  • Consume high protein meals for breakfast and lunch, followed by reach carbohydrate dinner;
  • supplement with melatonin the first 3-4 days;

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