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Advice From Former THON Dancers

by Carly Weiss and Patrick Spurlock

With THON weekend right around the corner, dancers are preparing for the 46-hour long haul of no sitting or sleeping. This mental and physical feat requires plenty of guidance to ensure you’re able to remain positive and take in everything the weekend has to offer. To help you along the way, two past dancers and current staffers gave their advice from their experiences of dancing at THON 2017.

Before THON

Monitor what you drink — Caffeine isn’t a good way to stay awake for 46 hours, and having it in your system will wear your body down. Cut out coffee, tea, and sodas completely as soon as you can. The same goes for alcohol and other sugary drinks (you’ll thank yourself later). Stick to water and remember to hydrate frequently.

Regulate your sleep schedule at least a week in advance — We recommend getting at least eight hours of sleep each night during the week leading up to THON, and you’ll be ready to tackle the weekend FTK.

Get fit — Begin doing some light (not strenuous) exercise as soon as possible. Squeeze in some walking or cardio as much as you can up until the Tuesday before THON. Once Tuesday hits, stay off your feet and rest until Friday. Also, don’t forget to stretch.

Make a personal playlist — Being surrounded by an arena full of people for 46 hours will make you want to take some time for yourself. Bring some headphones and hype yourself up with a playlist of your favorite songs in the dancer storage area when you need some alone time and an extra boost.

Pack for the occasion — Be sure to pack different types of socks and shoes like sneakers, flip flops, and slippers so you can vary the pressure on your feet. If you’re looking for new sneakers to break in for THON, Rapid Transit downtown specializes in finding the right shoes for dancers. Make sure to bring at least a couple changes of clothes, too. Your dancer bag will have plenty of travel-size toiletries and other things you may need, so don’t go overboard packing. Save your limited space for other things that might come in handy, like a portable phone charger.

During THON

Take advantage of your Dancer Relations Committee Member — They’re there to help you, so don’t hesitate to ask them for any help or favors.

Fuel your body — There will be a bunch of refrigerators on the floor and in the concourse filled with water and Gatorade, so hydrate frequently and definitely hit the PB&J stand between meals.

Stay positive — THON weekend is way more mental than it is physical. Go into it accepting that you’ll be in pain. Once you accept this, just focus on staying positive and enjoying the experience.

Stay active and distract yourself if you need to — FaceTime friends and family to show them what THON is like. Text your friends or org members to meet you at the bottom of the bleachers. Play some board games. Draw in coloring books. Walk around and explore the concourse and other hidden gems of THON. There’s so much to do and see, so you shouldn’t have any issue passing the time.

Get an ice bath for your feet when you need to — It’ll help with swelling and get you refreshed in no time. This is great for Sunday morning to help you push through the final hours.

Take it all in — Learn the line dance, meet the kids, and take part in everything that’s happening on the floor. Take plenty of pictures, save your dancer mail, and keep a journal throughout the weekend. You’ll be thankful to have things from the best weekend of your life to look back on.

And don’t forget to look around and soak in all of the weekend’s magic. Remember why you’re here and keep dancing. Live in the moment, and don’t set any expectations of what you want to happen. Every moment of THON will teach you a lesson that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

After THON

Just go straight home — Many dancers attempt to go out to eat after THON (or go to the Phyrst) and end up falling asleep at the table. You’ll be glad to be home in your bed. But don’t forget to eat before you fall asleep.

Keep water and Gatorade next to your bed — Even after you leave THON, you’ll need to make sure you’re hydrating.

Take a long, relaxing shower — If you have a bathtub, use it. If not, make sure to clean your shower before THON so you can sit in it. Noodle legs are not a myth.

Keep stretching — Your feet and legs will undoubtedly be sore the next day and at least a few more days, so make sure to rest as much as you need to.

To all of the THON 2019 dancers, take it from those who’ve done it before. Keep this advice in mind and you’ll definitely thank yourself later. In less than three weeks we’ll be blasting off in the BJC. We stand in 16!

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