Gaming Marathons: The Healthy Way


This week, my guildmate and future raid leader, Serrath, was nice enough to write a guest post for me. You can follow Serrath on Twitter @Serrath_.


Well howdy, Cannot Be Tamed readers! I’m Serrath and I’m the incoming raid leader for Apotheosis! While Jasyla is out on a fantastic vacation (color me jealous) I’m going to talk a bit about the upcoming release of Mists of Pandaria on September 25th, and how you can prepare yourself for the gaming marathon that is sure to follow.

To give you a little information about me: I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since Vanilla. My very first character hit level 60 killing a banshee in the Eastern Plaguelands just as the Ahn’Qiraj event was coming into full swing. During my tenure with the game I’ve enjoyed multiple release date grinds and gaming marathons. The most successful of which was the Wrath release, where I managed to snag the Server First Level 80 achievement on the Detheroc server!

In order to complete what was a 48 hour gaming marathon that led to this success I had to prepare myself for nearly a week prior to the release. I considered methods to affect my sleep pattern, how to eat and stay healthy, exercises to perform while playing, and ways to keep myself socially engaged. Please allow me to share a few of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up during my time in the game in hopes that you find a few of them helpful for your release grinding.

In order to tackle the issue of sleep patterns we need to understand what they are and how they work. Your sleep pattern is directed by an internal clock known as your circadian rhythm. This clock is affected by external stimuli and internal hormones. We want to adjust both to best suit our needs for our upcoming gaming marathon!

The portion of your brain that “houses” your internal clock is located just above your optic nerves which allows for a quick relay of incoming light. When there is less light (sunset, dark interior) your brain will produce more melatonin, which will make you sleepy. In order to combat this you will want to be playing in a well-lit environment. I recommend having multiple lamps positioned around the room. If you have a window nearby, leave your curtains drawn so the darkness isn’t noticeable. If you will be traveling through your house leave these areas well-lit (hallway, kitchen, etc) since we will be traveling during our marathon.

After addressing the external stimuli you will want to consider how to affect your internal “settings.” Starting a few days before your proposed event (let’s say Friday!) you will want to start staying up a single hour later than your standard bed time. Allow yourself to sleep in one hour later the following morning. Repeat this process for a few days. If you start on Friday and you traditionally go to bed around midnight you’ll be at 4am for your standard bedtime on Tuesday morning. On Monday evening, to help adjust further, take a nap – keeping in mind that a nap’s effectiveness is not in how long you sleep, but how many complete sleep cycles you finish. Since I take a little extra time to fall asleep I usually allow myself two hours for a complete and effective nap.

With our sleep cycle taken care of let’s address what is, in my opinion, the most important factor for our gaming marathon: nutrition. In order to gain the most mileage out of your marathon you will want to eat very healthy – focusing on fruits, vegetables, and foods high in protein. Steer clear of caffeine and sugar! While these items will allow you to feel a quick surge of energy and focus, you will crash and be much worse for wear after the effects wear off. I recommend you make a few pre-planned meals that are easily warmed up in the microwave or eaten right from the fridge.

When I completed my 70 to 80 grind in Wrath I had prepared six separate meals the Monday before the release. I had made three peanut butter sandwiches, three lunch meat sandwiches (ham or turkey, tuna would be great as well), six bags of a variety of vegetables (celery, carrots, peppers, broccoli, squash, zucchini, whatever you like), and six bags of a variety of fruit (grapes, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, etc.). For each “meal” I grabbed a sandwich, a bag of veggies, a bag of fruit, and a bottle of cold water. Having a diet like this prepared will allow you to save time by being able to grab a quick meal, it will allow you to continue a healthy intake of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function, and it will allow you to have a peak alert time.

To give you a few other options of recipes I’m considering for this year: consider making dinners that you can microwave and eat! I’ll be preparing a couple servings of stir fry, a bowl or two of soup that I can store in the freezer, or maybe a pre-made salad (cucumber + tomato + chicken tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette is easy and *amazing*).

The third great factor for ensuring a successful and healthy gaming marathon is to remember to exercise! A very real danger that many people dismiss is the threat of blood clots caused by extended periods of sitting. When you read the stories of people passing due to long gaming sessions it is usually caused by a mix of bad diet, lack of sleep, and lack of movement. In addition to combating things such as clots, exercise will assist with your blood circulation which will allow you to maintain a more alert status while playing.

Now, you don’t need a home gym or anything fancy to keep yourself “in shape” while playing. There are a few simple exercises you can do at or next to your desk and will take you no time at all! This website details 33 different exercises to perform at or near your desk. My favorites are 6, 8, 13, 20, and 31. (Number 7 is just gross – I still have bad memories of grade school gym class “phantom chair” contests … oi.) Find a few exercises that will work for you and remember to perform them a few times and hour to keep your blood flowing.

With all of our physical health concerns addressed we have one last thing to consider: mental health! World of Warcraft is a social game by design. Unfortunately, the leveling grind tends to become a solo activity with players pushing through quests at their quickest pace. During this grind many people seclude themselves in an effort to stay focused. I say just the opposite. Engaging in conversation with friends and guild mates will help keep your mentally involved in your activities. I believe it works best in a voice chat settings (Mumble, Ventrilo, Skype, etc.) where you’re able to actively discuss what you are each doing. When you start to nod off at around the 18 hour mark your friends will be the ones able to keep you awake, alert, and focused on the task at hand: getting to 90 before them!

I hope some of the information provided here helps you in your early Mists of Pandaria goals. I know I’m very excited to check out the new content and get to beating down some Mogu in the new raids. What are some of your personal tips and tricks? Best of luck to you on September 25th!

5 responses to “Gaming Marathons: The Healthy Way

  1. Thanks Serrath for your tips of staying healthy during the 48 hour marathon!

    My tips go out to those that have children, or other obligations that hinder you from a 48 hour marathon. Don’t worry! You’ll get to 90! Server first isn’t worth the risk of losing your job, or hurting others.

    In mine and my husband’s case we have 2 young girls. So obviously playing for 48 hours straight is out of the question. So our tactic is during school hours we devote a lot of time, then super late nights after the kids are in bed. It means we won’t be 90 in 48 hours, but our goal is AT LEAST a level a day giving us plenty of time to gear up.

    We’ve also been saving up to ensure if we need to, we can purchase BiS craftables. Its also good to make nice to your current/future raid leaders who have deep wow pockets. Did I mention my future raid leader Serrath is one heck of a guy? With an amazing personality? And beautiful cheek bone structure? When he duck faces, angels sing and rainbows pop out of no where.

    Onto food! I love my slow cooker. So right before release I’ll be making up some stews and other concoctions that I can throw in and eat throughout the day with some rice on the rice cooker. I’m thinking orange chicken, beef stew, and chicken and rice soup. And coffee. Lots of coffee. :)

    Happy Misting!

  2. Thanks for the information and your tips! I thought I’d chime in on the health topic of blood clots. In June I suffered from a clot (DVT) and pulmonary embolism that landed me in the hospital with horrible chest pains. I learned a couple of things:

    1. Some people are more prone to clotting due to genetic conditions that we generally don’t know exist until our first clot.
    2. Blood clots can be extremely dangerous if early warning signs are not addressed by a doctor.

    In my opinion, playing WoW doesn’t cause clots, but if we don’t stay hydrated and get up and move around frequently, we increase our risks. Taking a few minutes an hour to move around and drink water or gaterade is probably common sense for most, but it’s good to remind ourselves of this before the grind to 90.

    Happy Leveling!
    Daffnae recently posted..Affeena’s Resto Druid Weak Auras

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