With the CrossFit Open upon us I thought it would be worth our time to explore how to prepare for a competition, whether it’s one WOD or a weekend full of them. And first off, to everyone participating in the open, congrats on pushing yourself out of your normal routine!
Preparing for a workout really starts a few days in advance. You should be prepared with food and hydration leading up to the competition and also plan your rest day, both before and after. For example, if you’re going to be working out on a Saturday, I’d recommend you rest on Thursday. You do actually want to workout the day before! Think about it – it’s a lot easier to rev your engine come Saturday than to have to start it up completely. The day prior don’t go completely crazy, but get your heartrate up and get a decent workout in.
You want to make sure to drink plenty of water the day prior to competing. Remember, once you’re thirsty it’s already a sign of dehydration. Add some extra carbs to your diet the night before if you’re doing a competition with multiple WODs.
The Big Day
Okay, now for the day of. If you’re working out in the morning make sure you’re up at least three hours prior to working out. Go for a long walk, get those legs loose, before heading to the gym or competition where it can sometimes be a little chaotic. Eat at least two hours prior to working out. If you’re at a competition, you need to pack food. Think easily digestible (low in fiber) food. I recently learned in our 30 Day Challenge that you want to choose things like applesauce over apples, nut butter over nuts, baby food is a good option over whole starches. Keep your fat low. Other great choices would be hard boiled eggs, plain boiled chicken. You want to eat a carb + a protein after each event, even if you’re not hungry. And don’t eat anything or wear anything that you’ve never done before – rookie mistake! You don’t want your pants sliding down during a competition, while doing double under – am I right Dana?! You’ve got to keep your mental game strong! I hear so much negative self-talk at the gym. Think about what you’re about to do as being a hell of a lot of fun, and try to get rid of that negative stress. You WILL do great and you WILL be proud of yourself!
Now onto the warm-up. Grabbing a PVC bar and doing a few twirls, along with sitting at the bottom of a squat does not constitute a warm-up my friend. You need to REALLY warm-up for what you’re about to do. We’re talking 20 – 30 minutes. That means 10 minutes of getting your heartrate up with something like jogging or light rowing, followed by dynamic stretching; not static. Static stretching can loosen your muscles up too much. Movements like walking lunges, a walk out with a push up at the end, etc. Think about what muscles are about to be taxed and make sure you hit those. And stay warm – keep your pants and sweatshirt on during the warm-up.
Now I know you’ll kick ass at the workout so we won’t spend time here. Let’s go to the cool down – so important! Skipping the cool down can contribute to lactic acid build-up, which will not feel good later (Hello 16.1)! High five and fist pump your friends, then keep moving for a faster recovery. Collapse on the floor if you must, but limit it to 30 seconds or less and then begin light rowing and stretching or foam rolling. You want to lower your heart rate progressively and this is the first step. Focus your cool down stretches on the major muscles that were just involved.
Finally – once you’re recovered later in the day – let’s eat! Here’s where you want to get those fats. Try to keep it nutritious; real food. Avoid the pizza and instead opt for a nice grassfed steak with a potato and veggies. Hard boiled eggs and almond butter are also good choices, especially at the end of an all day competition. And keep drinking that water!
And lastly, take the time to focus on your success. So many of us focus on things that we didn’t do and forget about the things we DID do. I get it – we’re CrossFitters and we want to be able to be really awesome at everything; but take the time to be proud. I know I am proud to be a part of CrossFit, and I hope you are too.