In just one short day, more than 700 Penn Staters will rise to their feet and begin their stand against childhood cancer. If you’re one of these dancers, congratulations! Get ready for one of the most exciting and inspiring weekends of your life.
As a THON 2013 Dancer, the 46 hours of THON weekend were some of the most memorable I’ve experienced thus far, but they weren’t without their challenges. Based on my experiences last year, here’s a bit of advice to keep in mind throughout the weekend.
After being awake for so long, it’s easy to forget something so mundane like drinking water. I tried to have a water bottle in my hand as much as possible, and as the weekend went on, I began alternating between water and gatorade more frequently.
This isn’t the case for everyone, but about halfway through the weekend dancer meals got a bit too heavy for me, and I started to lose my appetite. Even if you don’t want to, you *need* to eat. Bring something light like crackers or have your Moraler bring it for you. It’s important that you keep regularly nourishing your body to keep your energy up, even if you’re not necessarily hungry. Also, don’t doubt the power of a banana, PB&J, or applesauce. At one point my friend basically forced me to eat applesauce and I instantly felt better. Try to make sure you’re getting carbs, protein, and all the other nutrients that keep you energized.
Change your shoes
While you want to wear good sneakers that support your feet properly for most of the weekend, it really helps to free your feet every couple hours, so bring some kind of sandal or slipper if you can. In lieu of a shower, baby powder will be your best friend to make your feet feel less clammy.
At the same time, don’t leave your sneakers off for too long, especially later in the weekend — your feet can start to swell and you could have trouble fitting them back into the shoes.
Change your clothes and wash your hair
Obviously you’re not going to stay in the same clothes for 46 hours; that would be silly. However, don’t underestimate how refreshing it can fell to swap outfits. Also, I definitely recommend washing your hair at least once. The bathroom sinks aren’t spa-like by any means, but it’s a great way to relax for a little and it definitely helped me become more alert after finishing. This might not be as helpful for male dancers, but the cool water will definitely help wake you up a bit.
Don’t rely on therapeutic techniques too early
Obviously you probably won’t know exactly what time it is, but be careful not to go into ice baths, taping ankles or feet, and tennis ball massages too early. One particularly useful thing my Moraler told me is that if you begin them too early, you can become reliant on these methods if you start them before you absolutely need them. Now only you can be the judge of what you’ll need, but consult your Moraler and EMS if need be. They’re trained to help you, and while they might not know how sore you are at that time, they can help you decide what you should do.
If you need pain medicine, stay on top of it
My biggest issue pain-wise when I danced was my back, and I knew this would be an issue going into the weekend. As soon as it started to feel tight, I started taking Advil and would typically get another dose whenever my Moraler would come back on shift. If you need Tylenol or any other type of pain medicine, it’s best to stay on top of the pain rather than waiting for it to get too bad.
Stretch, stretch, and stretch some more
The line dance is designed to help stretch you in the process, but chances are you aren’t going to be on the floor every time it’s performed. Make sure you’re continuing to stretch throughout the weekend. If I had friends on the floor and we were standing around talking, I’d usually stand near a wall so I could stretch my legs and have something to balance on. During events like Mail Call, Pep Rally, and the final four hours, try to stay moving in some way. Even if you’re just bouncing back and forth from your toes to your heels, you’re still stretching your feet a bit. Walking backwards also really helps your muscles (pro tip: make sure you have somebody guiding you).
If your friends can’t get to the floor or the BJC gets to capacity, try not to worry about it. I’m well aware that emotions run high throughout THON Weekend, and at times you may feel on-edge, but just remember to breathe and relax. Getting stressed won’t make the line move any faster. Instead, take some time to yourself and remember why you’re here and what you’re doing. You’ll probably only get once chance to view THON from this perspective — don’t waste a minute of it.