CrossFit® Competitions - 5 tips on how to prepare
One of the more regular inquiries I receive from people goes something like this, “I’m about to do my first CrossFit® competition. Do you have any advice?” The easy response to that is “just have fun!” Of course that’s somewhat of a copout, and even if you’re having a good time, if you feel like you should’ve done better you may not enjoy the experience as much. So in an attempt to avoid copping out on y’all, here are some tips from what I’ve learned…
1. Stick to what you know “on” your body! This means the equipment you pack in your gym back, your workout clothes, and your shoes. Unless you’ve tested them in the gym already, game day is not the time to find out. I feel like people for some reason think they’ll have super powers if they put on new “special shoes” sometimes, but the majority of the time they just end up with special blisters or having their concentration taken towards why their feet feel different and away from what they’re doing, competing duh! In terms of equipment, try out hand grips, gloves, knee sleeves, shin guards, wrist wraps, head bands, jump ropes, and any other accessory that makes us look like we’re more elite humans before the competition! Sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised.
2. Stick to what you know “in” your body! This is referring to nutrition and supplements. If you don’t drink pre-workout at least occasionally, now is not the time to feel like your heart is going to explode (if there ever is a time). If you usually eat more paleo style, carb loading may have drastic (rather gastric) effects! That said, you may need to eat a bit lighter and more energy dense in between multiple events. My advice, try this out before hand as well. Pick a day you can do a double or more session of training with 1-3 hours in between and pack your super powered, nutrient dense snack to eat during your break. Some respond better to whole foods like chicken and sweet potato, others like more quickly processing things like banana, almond butter and honey, and still others prefer very quickly processing things like shakes. It’s all individual, so figure out what’s best for you by being your own guinea pig prior. Key word here is prior to the competition!
3. Stick with what you know “in” your mind! I’ve seen this time after time. People know how to perform the mechanics of the skills they’re doing and the cues they give themselves in the gym, but for some reason once adrenaline comes into their system all their self talk is a chaotic barrage of “PICK UP, RUN, GO FAST!” The equipment at the competition for the most part hasn’t changed. A 95# bar is still the same, so why change the cues you use to lift it? The key to this is slowing your mind down just enough to give you meaningful mantras you can focus on like “chest up, hips, relax, keep your feet grounded” etc. An added bonus is when you’re focusing on these mantras strongly enough you can actually block out the lying voices of pain that go more like “Suzy is beating us, you need to rest, we’re dying a horrible death right now”.
4. Stick with what you “can” do! Many times I hear competitors talk beforehand about what they aren’t capable of. Things like, “I can’t do 20 unbroken C2B pull-ups, or I can’t hit a 300# squat clean”, or probably the worst “I can’t beat so and so”. That does no one a bit of good, and sets limits that often times you are capable of surpassing and just don’t know yet. The mind shift here is to focus on what you know you can do. So instead, “I can do 2 sets of 10 C2B pull-ups, I can hit 280# and then I’ll go for more depending on how I feel”, or my favorite “everyone is beatable”, because it’s true! You’re even capable of beating what you “think” you’re capable of, but you have to not set such self-limiting constraints to that potential first!
5. Take it one event at a time! This one I have trouble with myself. I tend to want to skip ahead in my mind to what’s coming next, or take what might not have gone 100% my way on the last event with me into the next one. Both approaches keep you from fully focusing on what you have control over… the NOW! My best competitions I am fully focused on the event at hand. No matter how that one goes I move on with that focus to the next event. One thing that ‘s stuck with me a friend said once was, “Anything can happen in sport. Championships are lost or won all of the time by what happens in the last seconds of the game and upsets are always present.” This truth is why you can never give up on giving your best effort until it’s over, because you just never know. People may stall and then keep failing on a rope climb or HSPU that you wouldn’t have thought could happen in a million years, but it does, and then there’s your opportunity, but it won’t be there if you’ve already given up… so keep digging!
So a lot of my tips are mental and the rest sounds like a bunch of preparation doesn’t it? Many people don’t like that aspect of competing. They just want to go get after it. Take a second though and remember just how many hours you’ve already put into training (your biggest preparation). If you don’t put the icing on the cake with last minute preparations you’re just cheating yourself of a maximal performance. Or one of my favorites is “failing to plan, is planning to fail”. Now sign up for a competition and go get em’… but first make a packing list and bring snacks (everyone loves snacks)
- Talayna Fortunato