PictureThe grind is hard, tough but beautiful, I love every bit of it
Back in Brazil, I was able to visit Finland to see my girlfriend, her family and all of our friends, a perfect, quick mental break. Our team was given a week off due to the upcoming Grand Champions Cup in Japan. This tournament is an invite only to national teams who have recently won their respective continental champions. It’s a quadrennial round-robin competition this year featuring the host, Japan, Russia (Europe), Brazil (South America), USA (NORCECA), and Iran (Asia) and Italy who received the wild-card bid.

Brazil, unlike any league in the world this year, has all of their National team players, playing in the local league, 'Brazilian Super League'. So, instead of continuing the league and having many teams play without their best players, the league decided to take 3 weeks off.

So, back to Brazil, fresh off a plane from Finland, I was excited, I couldn’t wait to get back on the court, I felt like a kid on the first day of school. The first day back, I was up at 7am, I got a quick 6 minute meditation, showered and was off  to the kitchen to make my morning smoothie. Today it happened to be 3 bananas, some frozen berries, kale, almonds a tomato, a little creatine and topped off with my go to protein suppliment, VEGA One. After guzzling it down, I was out the door and able to catch my 8am bus for our 9am serve and pass. Unlike many other serve and pass I’ve done, where coaches just spin balls, over and over and over again, we are always moving here and the pace is extremely fast, almost as if it was a defensive drill. With 4 or 5 coaches usually at these morning serve and pass practices, we are always moving with constant feedback, no time to think, wander or have our head somewhere else, they push us until the end and it’s great. As soon as our hour of serve and pass is done, we’re up to the locker room to change shoes and out the door to our weight facility, located 10 minutes on the other side of town.

Just like technical training, Brazilians put a huge emphasize on weight lifting (this week we ended up lifting everyday) There is so much emphasize that the team I am on ended up buying a 3 story facility, just because they couldn’t find another facility that had all the right equipment to rent. As we arrived, the morning group of setters, middles and opposites were just finishing and the other 2 coaches were ready for us to get to work. Again, unlike any place I’ve been, our weight lifting program is nonstop, the guys are focused on the task in hand and push themselves every minute in the gym, which is usually around 1 to 2 hours a brutal pace but just like the serve and pass training, I love it!

PictureRolling, rolling and with a view.
It’s 12:00, mid day in Brazil and the other passers and I are done with weightlifting, I finish the rest of my morning smoothie and I head back to my apartment for a quick foam roll and stretch outside by the pool. Which if you don’t have a foam roller, I would recommend picking one up, besides massaging muscles and tendons, the foam roller is able to break down scar tissue, increases flexibility and increases blood flow and circulation to soft tissues. Summed up, it keeps your body felling good even after 3 a days training in Brazil! One of the beautiful perks playing in Brazil and not Europe is the weather, being down here it’s just rolling into summer and instead of stretching inside, I have the amazing option of going outside to my pool, rolling out, stretching and meditating while taking in a quick dose of vitamin D.

PictureDelicious, raw, whole food. Love it!
12:45 rolls around and I leave the pool, shower up and head to the local university that provides lunch for us. Speaking for myself, as a plant based athlete (no meat, no animal products) I can’t say how much I love Brazil, wherever I happened to be there is the freshest fruit, and assortment of vegetables and of course brown rice and beans. The university is no exception, the perfect spot to help me recover with a wide range of whole foods.

It’s 1:30 and I’m ready to leave the university cafe, I’m happy, not too full and I’m ready for what’s next. I decline the ride back to my apartment and choose to walk, still trying to find my legs from the 13 hour plane ride from Europe. Having to commute a ton from lifting, practice and lunch, I’ve gotten big into podcast, my two favorite being Rich Rolls and Lewis Howe’s ‘The School of Greatness.’

Rich Roll is a vegan ultra-athlete and the author who helped lead me into a plant based diet, his show constantly has topics related to plant-based nutrition, meditation and yoga. Then there is Lewis Howe’s show ‘The School of Greatness” he brings in different successful business minds and world class athletes to discuss what makes great people great. I’ll usually spend 2-4 hours a day just commuting, so podcast’s have become a great way for me to unwind from the physical and emotional stress from training as well as giving me some new ideas how I can be better in my daily life.

Back at home, it’s 2:00 in the afternoon, I immediately get to cooking, so when I return home from my night’s training the food will be ready for me. Tonight it’s brown rice, black beans and a mango salsa (cucumber, green bell pepper, tomato and 2 mangos) The beans and rice are cooking and it’s time to make a smoothie. Like I mentioned before, my diet is without meat and without those dense calories, I’m always eating and drinking and it’s great, I love it! Not even really eating, I look at it as I am also fueling my body, recharging it and always making it a priority of what I am putting into my body. This year I've really focused on cutting down on processed foods as well as challenging myself to get gluten out of my diet and reducing any unnecessary inflammation. Today my afternoon/post practice smoothie is composed of 4 bananas, a handful of walnuts, kale, pineapple, berries and a little bit of left over lettuce. Before I leave, I make a little coffee to go and finalize a trade in my fantasy football league (I play with 11 other guys, who also play professional volleyball and I love it! A perfect stress reliever and something to keep us close while we are playing for our respective teams all across the globe). I finalize the trade, pack my bag and I’m out the door. 

PictureFinally at the gym and ready to get after it
I check in at the gym a hour early to practice, to get some rehab on my shoulder which I hurt in one of our recent games, I hit a wet spot on a pursuit ball and well.. you can see it here, just unfortunate. Ouch https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=418326761623827&set=vb.100003395199731&&theater

After rehab, I pull out my coffee and take the last 15 minutes before practice to watch some video of a Brazilian libero named Sergio, who is arguably the best to ever play the position. In my opinion, it’s not even an argument, he’s the best and luckily for me, he has continued to play in the league here, so I’m able to watch the video we have of him. Today, I’m looking at his defensive footwork and how he moves around the court  and how I can take what he does and apply it to my game.

PictureWorking for that incredible feeling.
It’s 5pm and we are finally back as a team and I couldn’t be happier, let's get after it!! VAMOS!

6:30 and our coach cuts it short, we are able to do some ball control work but it was mainly used as a day for the guys to get their legs back after a week vacation. Back to the locker room as I am quick to start the recovery process and finish the rest of my afternoon smoothie, I shower up and am off to home.

I get back at 8pm, grab the black beans, brown rice throw in some of the mango salsa I made in the afternoon and recover while I watch one of my favorite shows, “The League” a show about a group of guys in a fantasy football league on FX.

After the show, I close my computer, do a little stretching, a little reading, followed by my nightly meditation and I’m in bed my 10. I’ve always been a night crawler, especially when I've lived in Europe, it’s easy to find yourself up past 1am, 2am talking to friends back home but recently I’ve pushed myself to shut off all electronics at 9:00 and to be in bed at 10, giving my body the best chance to recover and to be able to up early and ready to take on the next day without the slight bit of hesitation.

It was a great day, a lot of quality touches, I got stronger in the weight room and I got to see all the guys again, who I enjoy being around so much. Tomorrow is another chance to be better and I can’t wait!

On another note, here is my team in action the last 3 matches, hope you guys like it and if you have any questions, you can always follow me on my instagram account and ask away there. http://instagram.com/dustinwatten I love connecting with people that are passionate about volleyball and nutrition, especially people who want to push themselves to be their absolute best! Enjoy.




 


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