The Four Performance Factors For Student-Athletes

With the cross country season starting, it's important to take care of yourself in order to get the personal best times you want. Sleep, nutrition, chemical health, and mood/mindset are all factors you should look out for because they affect your athletic performance.



Sleep is one of the four factors that affect your athletic performance. During sleep, as much as 75 percent of human growth hormone (HGH) is released. Sleep can relieve muscle tension, repair tissue, and contribute to muscle growth. The production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy are also replenished during sleep. Not getting enough sleep can make you feel fatigued and stressed and increase the risk of injury.

It's recommended for athletes to get 9-10 hours of sleep. Consider increasing the amount of sleep you get at least three days before your race in order to reach optimal performance. 


Your diet also impacts your performance. As an athlete, you need more calories, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and protein than the average person does. Carbohydrates provide energy and protein helps build and maintain muscle. Calcium, Vitamin D, B Vitamins, Iron, Zinc, and Magnesium are important vitamins and minerals that should be included in your diet. Consuming dairy and eggs can provide you with calcium, vitamin D, and zinc.

Iron deficiencies are one of the more common problems that runners tend to have. Having an iron deficiency can make you feel very tired and limit the amount of exercise you can do. It's important to get your iron levels checked before the beginning of a running season. Liquid iron usually helps anemics feel better more quickly and iron pills can be used to help maintain your levels. Magnesium is another mineral that's important for performance. It can increase muscle performance and exercise level. Magnesium can be found in dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, legumes, and tofu.

Chemical Health 

Alcohol and marijuana can negatively impact muscle repair and body recovery. One night of drinking can lead to 14 days of lost training effect ( Cannabinoids, found in marijuana, can block growth hormone, decreasing recovery and repair. 

Mood and Mindset

Mindfulness is a huge factor that can impact you mentally and physically. A positive mindset can help you focus on your race and impact your teammates' mindsets. Physically, it can reduce stress and muscle tension, improve your pain tolerance, and enhance your immune system.