Coach Jess has some final competition preparation thoughts for our Fitober Fest athletes. Her CrossFit experience has lead her to some insightful reflections on workout and competition approach which can be applied by all of us, participants or not.
Competitors, start thinking about her points as we enter the final week of pre-competition training.
I’ve been a competitor since I was a small tomboy in northern Wisconsin challenging everyone in my neighborhood to any and everything. From races to handstand holds to paper, rock, scissors; if there was something you wanted, you better be prepared to win it from me. Naturally CrossFit was a great find….until I started doing competitions and realized I needed major help with my anxiety and game day routine. We all react to pressure differently but these are some of the things I’ve experienced and worked through over the past few years of competing in small- and large-arena CrossFit competitions.
Mindset and Game Plan.
I love strategizing and gaming and think it is what separates CF athletes. I believe that it’s not always the fittest athlete who will win the day but instead the athlete who knows their body and mind the best. The athlete who is truly in touch with how their body moves, knows how far they can push themselves, and has a winning mindset will outshine natural talent most of the time.
Figure out where you redline and learn to stay just below it…it is a fine line. Play with common movements and take note of when you start to fatigue and when you redline. What pace/rep schemes allow you to keep moving? Or do you prefer bursts with short rests? Monitor how long those rests are and count yourself back in. Is carrying the bar down worth it? Or can you drop it and quickly pick it up again? Have the urgency to not waste valuable seconds….screw your water, don’t fix your hair or clothes…be ugly and gnarly, don’t tighten the clamps or plates, don’t walk away from the bar every time it drops, and don’t argue a no-rep. Just do it again. If you’re in a partner WOD when your partner is going, you’re counting their reps while catching your breath so that you’re ready to go the second their last rep is finished. Teams who win have the least transition time period. Visualize your plan and do not underestimate determination and willing yourself to go beyond ordinary. Don’t buy into talent, buy into the mindset.
Strict paleo on competition day was one of my biggest rookie mistakes. Strict paleo is not for multi-wod competitions. Paleo is great but when you are competing every couple of hours all day you need fuel and lots of it. Nerves are going to tell you that you’re not even hungry. Eat anyway. Now isn’t the day to introduce a new food or something that works for someone else. Stick with what you know you can digest and workout on. Also, integrating fast release carbs are key to having energy all day. A bunch of us felt like lead come the final couple of WODs of a competition a few years ago and we remedied that in the future with pb&j sandwiches, oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, and brown rice. Don’t think baked chicken and nuts are going to fuel you into the finals. It’ll get you and your six-pack abs into the finals at the beach with a hottie but that’s about it.
Become familiar with your warm-up routine and let it help you. Warming up properly is essential, as you know. This can easily get lost when you are caught up trying to talk to everyone, watching other heats, cheering for friends, and strategizing. It is a long day and while you should do all of those things because that is part of the experience, you also have to be smart enough to know when to take yourself out of the mix so you can relax and get into your zone. Mental and physical preparedness are equally important. Take note of or create a warm-up routine for yourself….physical and mental. What exercises/stretches work for you? What music calms you, motivates you, or gets you amped? Make a playlist. Have an article or a quote that inspires you; read it or recite it! Nerves are a funny thing and can throw everything that seems second nature out the window. I suck at warming up and especially so before a competition. It’s like I forget everything and pace around and randomly stretch my quad or do some lunges. I’ve actually had to ask other coaches to warm me up before I realized I needed to come up with a routine. This routine will start to become natural and familiar to you. Your body and mind will recognize this routine and it will set things in motion so that you are prepared for that upcoming WOD. If anything, it will take you out of that crazy mind spin that can happen when nerves, excitement, fear, and what ifs collide.
You compete everyday at DSCF so what is different about a competition? Well, at DSCF you are also familiar with one another’s strengths and weaknesses and pretty much know where you should fall in the pecking order for whatever the WOD is that day. If you feel you typically finish before someone you’ll push harder to keep it that way. Or, if you’re usually behind someone you’ll feel comfortable being just behind them in the WOD. If we lined everyone up at DSCF and chose by body type/athletic build who would come in 1st, 2nd, 3rd….etc., we wouldn’t pick correctly. So don’t do that now. You will get to the competition and there will be new faces and body types. Everyone will probably seem bigger, stronger, faster, and more prepared than you are. Stop comparing yourself. It’s draining and useless. Watching all of the heats and analyzing how these other athletes (that you don’t know much about) did is spinning your wheels as well. Yes, you can learn some things. But if you know yourself, are prepared, and have thought of YOUR game plan, your best bet is to stick with that. Don’t let some other person’s result in a previous heat throw your entire game plan out the window. Always be ready and able to make some changes in your plan, just don’t allow yourself to be guided in multiple directions based on other people’s experiences or whatever they tell you. Yes, it’s CrossFit where we’re all helpful and team players but don’t be fooled. It’s a competition and people still want to win so don’t think they’re not keeping secret some things they learned, slightly spinning how they felt, or how they “would have done it” had they known. And if you listen to everyone you’ll go crazy! Bottom line is trust yourself. I take people’s advice into consideration but I always do what I know works for me. And then I also have nobody to blame but myself.
3-2-1 OH SHIT.
Yep. That’s going to happen. You’re going to be ACUTELY aware of how you feel during the WOD and you’re going to think and feel like you’re more fatigued and out of breath than normal. You’re going to be comparing yourself to other athletes, who are just as nervous, by the way, and you’re going to have that “Oh shit” moment. You’re in sensory overload and while we’re usually aware that CrossFit sucks, it is an especially different kind of suck today. Adrenaline is powerful. It may have you busting out of the gate all crazy and that is ok, it’s far from over. Take a deep breath, regroup, find your pace, and keep going. Your body will adjust. You train every day and you are more than ready. You’re athletes. You’re prepared. And you are NOT quitters. Fight the fight no matter what happens or how you feel. Besides, the person who gets the crowd standing and screaming isn’t always the person who finishes first with ease. It’s the person who has the heart of a lion and will not give up no matter what. Just revel in that “Oh shit” moment because that’s the test of a true athlete….it’s where the best stories and victories begin.
You are representing yourself and Division St. CrossFit. Have sportsmanship and class at all times with fellow athletes, judges, and facilitators. No one will remember anything positive about you if you’re a poor sport. Celebrate with class and accept defeat with class (which I know you all will).
If you give 100% and know you couldn’t have done anything else, you’ll go home feeling awesome. Don’t let one WOD dictate your entire day. Each one is separate. When it’s done, put it behind you. I used to look forward to throwing my hat in the ring with the big dogs and I only hoped for one good performance…maybe even one good movement that shined. Be proud, celebrate yours and others victories, and remember……as a fellow coach told me years ago during a competition…..at the end of the day, it’s juuuuuuuust CrossFit.
I am so excited to come watch, cheer, and coach next weekend! I wish I could be out there with you guys but know that my heart will be and nobody will be screaming louder or harder than I will be. Need a pep talk, a walk, a stretch….anything at all you come find me!!! Good luck DSCFers, you’re going to make us all proud!