CrossFit competition prep: do’s and don’ts
Yes, you’ve qualified for your CrossFit competition! Now what? Or maybe you think you are not a competition athlete, but you are doing the box’s own Club Games (hello Wildhearts Club Games 2018!), participate in The Open, or doing that competition qualifier ‘just for fun’. Also then you can look at that moment as your competition. So… How do you prepare for that?
In competition prep you have several timeframes to take into account. First there is the phase where you still have enough time to work towards the specific competition. These weeks (or sometimes months) are the time where you try to up your game, work on your weaknesses and maintain or build up your strengths. This is the most important period in competition prep; this is where the work is done. However, when the big moment comes closer, also that shorter period of time, just some days before the competition, is crucial. This is the phase where you build up your confidence and where the details matter. And then there it is: game day!
The work is done, the prep is done, but there still is this important day of competition.
At this moment I am in my own prep for the Lowlands Throwdown. A competition where I set the goal for when I started CrossFit three years ago (true story). And although I’m still kind of a rookie when it comes to CrossFit competitions, I can say that I am ‘quite’ experienced in sports competitions… From small weekly competitions when I was really young till working towards three Olympic Games and lots of European and World Championships, I’ve learned ‘the drill’ of working towards such a peaking moment. So why not share my experience with you? Here you are: some do’s and don’ts for your own CrossFit competition prep!
THE WEEKS (MONTHS) BEFORE COMPETITION
Work with a structure or scheduleStructure is key. So make a (weekly) schedule of your training days and hours and use that schedule as your structure. Plan your rest days, work in training cycles and follow a program. Sounds simple, but this really is your basis of solid training. Communicate with your coach daily.
Work on your weaknessesWe all have our weaknesses. Yes you too! ;-) These weaknesses can make you insecure and that is something we don’t want too much in competition. So use especially this period of time to work in a structured way on improving them. Wake up call: this means most of the time working on things you might not like so much… Be brave and fair and address those weaknesses to yourself: embrace the suck!
Don’t overdo itIt’s more than ok to up your game for a certain period of time. It can help you to get that extra boost, power and energy in your body and mind. But be aware to not overdo it. Perseverance is a good thing, but keep listening to your body and do not wear yourself out!
Do skill and accessory work
Skill practice has the most impact in a short period of time to your competition performance. So add skill and accessory work into your warm up while you’re still fresh and at the end of your training session to get you that little extra.
Focus on the goalIn this period it is crucial that you work focused towards your goal: ‘eye on the prize’. That means that everything you do is meant to contribute to that goal. Sounds boring and strict but there’s more to it. So figure out whether that (one?) beer on Sunday will help you relax and unwind to be better in training on Monday, or that it will interfere with achieving your goal. You decide.
ZzzzzzleepThis is a no brainer right? When you train more, you’re body needs more rest to recover. Best way to give your body well deserved rest and get you mentally all loaded up again is the good old sleep. So time to hit the sack and sleep at least 8 hours a night.
Training more does not mean eating whatever the h*ll you like. Now, more than ever, it’s important to fuel your body for the tasks you give it. It’s not possible to out-train a bad diet, so know your needs, fuel up with the right nutrition at the right moments and keep track of your macro’s.
THE DAYS BEFORE COMPETITION
Taper It’s important to get your body ready now! That means you have to reduce your training in the days just before an important competition: tapering. This is also the time where the rest makes your body feel good and strong. And so your confidence will grow! The exact period of tapering is personal needs and sports dependent, but a significant period of tapering is essential for optimal performance for every athlete. For CrossFit I recommend one week of tapering.
Pack your sh*t
Don’t wait with grabbing your gear till the day of competition. In lots of competitions you need lots of gear. Make a list a few days in advance, check and double check and pack your sh*t at least one day in advance.
Drink. Enough. Water.
It’s always important to drink enough. Water that is. It’s important to hydrate your body, but in the days just before competition it’s even more important. You want to be all hydrated before the competition starts, especially when you have multiple events a day. So drink more than you’re used to, check your pee and get yourself all hydrated!
Eat wellOh really? Yes! You’ve eaten well the last period of time and in these last days especially do not (I repeat, do not!) eat anything you are not used to. No new shakes, no outside meals, no experiments. You wouldn’t be the first with intestinal problems just before your big moment… Carb loading like you’re about to run a marathon is not necessary, but be aware that you eat enough carbs just the day before your comp!
AT THE COMPETITION
Warm up & cool downIt’s hard to make yourself warm up and cool down properly, especially when the competition is several days. To be honest, you just get sick of warming up and cooling down. But ‘allow’ yourself this, in order to prep yourself the best way you can and recover as quick as possible.
The judge is always rightAccept it. Period.
Be in the moment
Lots of times I see and hear athletes talking about the last event while we’re still at the first. Focus on the task you have to do right now. Put all your energy there: be in the moment. After this is done, you can move on to the next. Also things may happen that you did not foresee. Take them on the chin, do not linger and move on right away.
Hey here is that food again! Of course it is important to eat well during your competition days, but also the way you eat and the timing you eat matters a lot now. Breaking the meals into small portions will help you comfortably through the day. Bring healthy snacks and prep your food: your food is your control! Focus on ‘fast carbs’ (like white bread and rice, pancakes, (dried) fruits, instant oats) for quick energy during the workouts. Yes, eat some protein to aid in the protein synthesis after your workout, but again the carbs are ‘leading’, to replace muscle glycogen and get you all set up for the next workout. Skip most of the fibers and fats today. And again, do not (I repeat, do not!) eat anything you are not used to. That includes taking ‘pre workout’, special caffeine supplements, energy drinks or other weird stuff you’re not used too.
Oh and please grant yourself a nice ‘treatmeal’ after competition, you’ve earned it!
Enjoy itRemember: you’re in this for the fun. So embrace the moment, enjoy your time on the competition floor, eliminate regrets and celebrate, regardless of where you finish!