With Fitober Fest 2013 coming up in four weeks, Coach Joey has some advice for our competitors. Participating or not, check out what he has to say about preparing for a competition!
• Physical/Mental preparation leading up to the competition:
Regardless of your ability or expectations, optimal preparation is of crucial importance if you are to have a good showing (relative to your ability). In my experience most competitions are comprised mainly of short(ish), high intensity metcons, so ramping up your intensity and pushing harder than usual is a good idea leading up to it. As a general rule for myself, 1.5/2 weeks out I’ll tweak my schedule to allow for something resembling a 1 day on-1 day off routine. The goal at this point is to hit the workouts you are hitting with maximum intensity (not like you do in the gym day in and day out), but to never let your body get too sore. It’s also a good idea to throw in some basic skill work pre or post workout. You don’t want to be in a situation where DU come up and you don’t have them yet. The 1 on/1 off has worked well for me, but the priority is just maximizing intensity while minimizing lasting soreness/discomfort.
The day prior to the competition I’d recommend scaling back intensity, but doing a workout around 60-65% intensity using a wide variety of movements. The goal here is to make sure you’re familiar and competent in a wide range of possible competition movements and to smooth out any mobility issues or soreness. I like a chipper style workout in this situation. You may know the workouts ahead of time and if so, include the movements you are the most uncomfortable with, if any. I’m typically not a fan of taking a full rest day prior to the event, because it seems to make me lethargic and I’m not overly sore due to the 1 on/1 off schedule I like. Also, when competing in weightlifting we’d continue to lift heavy the day prior to the event, but would just drop the squats or at least scale them back.
• What to expect at the event:
If it’s your first time competing and it’s a well-run event, you’ll most likely walk in and feel a combination of nervousness and excitement. There will be many CFers, vendors, and a different layout than you’re used to. It’s a motivating atmosphere. You’ll meet people that are serious competitors, people brand new to CrossFit, and everyone in between. As I hinted at above, performance is relative to your ability and although you’re competing with others, the ultimate competition is with yourself. Push yourself as hard as you can and you’ll walk away satisfied.
At this point you’ll know the workouts and they’ll tell you what heat you are in, so use that to your advantage. Feel free to soak it all in and take it easy until about 30 minutes prior to your heat. At the 30 minute mark, start easing into a WOD-specific warmup. They’ll have a warmup area designated and although there will be many competitors using it, don’t be scared to take action and hop in with others. I’ve witnessed people too timid to ask if they can use a bar and instead just didn’t warmup at all. If this is you I’m going to slap you when I hear about it. If there are technical movements like the lifts, hop on a barbell and get some reps in. In a scenario with a heavy barbell lift, I’d recommend working up to the weight you’ll be using in the event and get some reps in with it. This helps prep the body, but more importantly the mind. Along the same lines if there are OHS, DU, KB Snatch, or anything else you’re unsure of; make sure you work it beforehand. Keep in mind you’ll be doing multiple events and to some extent energy conservation is important, so get the heart rate up and maybe a light sweat, but the warmup shouldn’t drain the tank at all.
• Between WODs:
You’ve finished the first event and the butterflies are gone so it’s time to prepare for the next one. Depending on the size of the competition you could have a long wait until you’re up again. This is my least favorite part and handling this time well is crucial to success. I competed in a GG event at CF Freedom a few years ago and I had at least 2-3 hours between events. If the first event tore you up, feel free to sit down, eat a snack, and drink some water. After refueling a bit resist the urge to lie down for extended periods of time. It’s important to keep moving around (walking) from time to time to avoid getting too stiff (the 2nd event will handle that for you). It’s easy to forget about eating and drinking, but your caloric needs will be higher than usual so don’t slack on this. Bring snacks, protein shakes, a lot of water, etc, and make sure you’re constantly eating something. You’ll have enough time between events to head somewhere close by for food/snacks also.
30 minutes prior to your next event, start warming up gradually as discussed above and repeat as needed!
• What to bring:
Foam roller, jump rope, appropriate shoes and weightlifting shoes if needed, extra socks, water, food, wrist wraps, MOTIVATION!
My advice above is based on my experience and the experiences of those I’ve trained. It’s served us well, but there is definitely an individual element to it all. If nothing else, it’ll provide a good starting point for your preparation and will hopefully guide you through what will be a very long day or two. If you enjoy it and start doing more, you’ll develop a better sense of what works for you and what doesn’t. Remember, if this is your first competition or if you’re relatively new to CrossFit, have fun and have realistic expectations. Don’t worry about your placing, just worry about pushing yourself as hard as you can and enjoy the experience. If you enjoy the competition side but prefer the weightlifting aspect, register for USAW and start competing in weightlifting. The above advice is applicable for CrossFit competitions but a weightlifting meet is an entirely different game, one in which I’d be glad to help out on as well! Best of luck!