Competition. The word is intimidating. Just the thought of the athletes sweating, chalk dust flying, and the clash of the bars dropping is enough to make one stay at home. Like most, I was nervous about competitions initially. But with some encouragement from my coaches and friends, I signed up for my first team competition last summer, UG Series Beach WOD. Even though I could barely string together pull-ups, we were able to work together and actually ended up placing Third in the Scaled Division! I learned so much during the competition about myself, my strengths and some weaknesses I went home to work on. Our positive attitude and teamwork really made the difference. Above all, I found that the upcoming competition was a serious motivator for me to set realistic but challenging goals for myself in a specific time frame.
Since last July, I’ve competed in two more competitions. Stay tuned for more of my experiences leading up to and during Crossfit Competitions. I thought I would start with my ‘Newbie’ Tips for a Successful Competition, from a Newbie herself.
Eight Newbie Tips for a Successful Competition
- Finding a Competition That’s Right for You
Many competitions offer multiple divisions including Professional/Elite, Rx, Scaled, Amateur, and Team. Team competitions are a great way to start. Being on a team allows you to compete alongside friends and is much less intimidating. Once you’ve competed in a few Team Events, you may feel more comfortable trying a solo competition.
Some competitions I would recommend in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario are listed below:
- Set Realistic Goals
Remember this isn’t the Olympics. A key part of any training for any competition includes setting realistic and attainable goals for yourself. Book a session with your coach to analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Ask what standards you should expect at the competition and what he/she might suggest you work on and work towards.
- Remember Why You’re There- Attitude is Everything
Before you enter your first comp, ask yourself why you want to compete. Whatever your answer may be, it probably shouldn’t be “to win”. Coming last in a competition ≠ losing. Keep your standards and expectations for yourself and your team in check. Having a positive attitude is the key to success in Crossfit in so many ways. Your goal shouldn’t be to be to be better than anyone else, rather your goal should be improvement. Strive for progress, not perfection.
Think about what you’re good at. Now practice everything else. Chances are if you’re a rockstar at KB swings (Hilary), you’ll fly through that portion of the workout and lose time struggling through your pull-ups. Don’t expect to walk into a competition without preparation. Competitions often involve 4+ WODs within a 12 hour time period. Train accordingly. If you’re used to heading to the gym and leaving after an hour, you’ll need to work on your endurance and get serious about your food and hydration.
Formulate a training plan with your coach at least 4 weeks before your competition. Ask them what weight standards you may be asked to complete and train towards those weights. For most Newbies, it won’t be the weights or the standards that pose a problem at the competition, it will be the workload of multiple WODs throughout the day that will zap your strength and endurance. Ensure that you factor the endurance portion into your training program. Think about your pacing, and/or give longer/multiple WODs a try, just to see how it feels.
Once the WODs are released for the competition, strategize with the help of your coach as to how you will approach each one. Where will you pace yourself? Where will you make up time? Strategy will give you a competitive advantage.
In addition to strategizing before the WOD, you’ll need to strategize on the fly during the WOD. Be aware of your fellow competitors, which movements do they struggle with? How can you pace yourself differently based on this to gain a time advantage? Keep in mind that even the best athletes pace themselves and take on different movements at different rates on intensity.
Watch Rich Froning talk about Pacing here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yowyUrcWSVw
- Proper Nutrition and Hydration
If you don’t fuel your body, it will not perform. Crossfit is extremely taxing on the body and thus requires serious fuel. Chances are you’re into nutrition and you think about what you’re eating more than the average bear. Taking the time to explore which foods work best for you and fuel your workout is critical to success in sport. Different things work for different people – which makes Sports Nutrition a challenging subject to write about. Here are a few tips I stick to when it comes to competitions:
- Pack a lot of high-quality, clean food. More than you think humanly possible to consume in 8 hours. You will eat it.
- Eat some carbs the night before and the morning of the competition. A bagel in the morning is perfect. Your body needs carbs to perform and will not run off of protein shakes and bars. Sweet potatoes are a great snack throughout the day.
- Bring snacks and smaller portions instead of large meals. Snacking throughout the day will help you metabolize your food, and not leave you feeling sluggish, or worse, pukey!
- Protein: Pack hard boiled eggs, cooked chicken or beef and mixed unsalted nuts. Most protein bars are full of sugar and will leave you feeling jittery and hungry.
- Hydration: Bring a case of water with you. Drink constantly throughout the day. Your body requires adequate hydration to function at high intensity. Drink until you are full. If you anticipate a WOD being longer than 8 minutes, bring a water bottle in with you to sip during your workout if you need to.
- Rest is Key to Success!
Party after the competition, never before. Serious athletes ensure they are receiving enough sleep to repair and recharge. Beginning a few nights before your competition, ensure you are getting at least 8 hours sleep. My husband thinks I’m crazy because I sleep at least 10 hours every single night… I think he’s crazy for settling for any less!
- Watch This Video
Thinking of taking the plunge and signing up for a competition? My advice to you would be get out there. It’s about having fun and exploring new ways to challenge yourself.
You’re stronger than you think.