Competition Preparation Tips & Insights for Any CrossFitter
Many people are already in the summer competition groove, so it is worth a quick discussion of how to prepare for a competition – physically, mentally, and nutritionally. This blog will discuss these areas, and also give recommendations for how often to compete, and how to recover from a competition.
Most competitions are two days long, with about three workouts each day. Charity competitions and small-box battles are one day, and some of the bigger events are three days (usually with only a workout or strength test on the first day). Regardless of how long your competition is, these are some common important things to consider.
1) Packing for the competition: Many competitions announce all the workouts well in advance, so you can know what equipment to bring in advance. The element of surprise does exist, however; so make sure you bring those things you might bring for any potential surprise workout or unannounced tie-breaker. Here is a list of the things I always keep in a plastic tub, and would definitely take with me to a competition:
- Enough workout clothes (complete set) so I can change into a fresh set of duds for each and every workout if I sweat way too much, or have a clothing or bowel malfunction.
- Lifting shoes, running shoes, AND Nanos
- Wrist compression wraps, gymnastic straps, and hand tape
- Rope-climbing socks / leg protection
- Arm sleeves (protection for rings or atlas stones)
- Jump rope
- Baby wipes, tape, Nu-Skin, Ibuprofen, aspirin, Bandaids…
- Foam roller, lacrosse ball, and Voodoo Floss
- Suntan lotion and bug spray
- Folding chair / pop-up tent / beach towel
- Cooler full of ice, beverages, and food (and bottle opener)
- Wrist and head sweat bands
- Jacket and sweat pants
- Toilet paper
2) Eating before the competition: Try not to stray too much from what you normally eat if you have a sensitive digestive system. You do not want to be in the bathroom more than you need to be on competition day. You DO, however, need to eat to prepare yourself for a full day or two of competing – versus only one workout a day.
- The day prior to the competition, eat and hydrate as you normally do for the breakfast and lunch meals. For the evening meal, however, stay away from junky/fast food. Eat a higher carbohydrate meal with plenty of protein and good fats that will help you get started for the next day. Lean meats, solid colorful fruits and veggies, and nuts and seeds are good options – Paleo or Zone works well here. If you get gassy from anything (milk, lentils, etc.), it is best to avoid it unless you want your judge to walk away from you mid-workout. Drink a big glass of water a couple of hours before bed.
- Wake up and eat a small meal with plenty of easy-to-digest proteins, fats, and simple carbs about two or three hours before your first competition. Eggs, fruits, apple fritters, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all fit the bill – along with a tall glass of water. Make sure you don’t eat anything that will make you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of your first workout. Coffee is both good and bad in this area. Because most competitions have multiple workouts, avoid the urge to fast, or to drink bullet-proof coffee alone as a breakfast. That will not provide enough fuel going into the second workout.
3) Sleep well the night before competition days. Try not to obsess about the workouts, and how you might possibly fare the next day. There is nothing you can possibly do the night before a competition by worrying about it – other than wreck it by not sleeping well.
4) Get to the competition AT LEAST an hour prior to the first workout / athletes’ meeting / registration. This will allow you to set your area up, get everything you need organized, walk around and check the place out, and scout out where the bathroom are. Make sure you set up somewhere you can see or hear what is going on with the competition so you don’t miss your workout heats.
5) Eating during the competition: Think small and easily digestible when eating throughout the day(s) of competition. Lean meats, peanut butter sandwiches, fruits, nuts, and vegetables are all good choices. Try to graze throughout the day instead of eating a big meal. Eat something immediately after completing each workout, and drink water throughout the day. Modestly sized protein drinks are a good choice too. Just try not to eat too much, as you do not want to feel bloated for the next workout.
6) Rest between workouts. Sit down and casually snack on some food and water. Resist the urge to wander around and shop at the vendor tents unless you have a couple of hours or more between each workout. Use whatever mobility tools you brought to massage aching muscles. Use ice from your cooler both to cool down and to ice any swelling or aches. Elevate your feet or lie down if you can.
7) After a day of competing, eat like a champion! Your body has been working hard all day, and you have been grazing to this point. Replenish your macronutrient stores with a high-carb dinner. Pasta, rice, unprocessed meats, vegetables, and fruits are all good choices; but chances are, almost anything in balance will fit the bill. Just try not to over-indulge on food or alcohol. Many times, people use the day after a competition to socialize over dinner. Most big-chain (non-fast-food) restaurant meals are proportioned for what you need (meat, potatoes, butter, vegetable, beverage…).
Naturally, there are many factors involved in fine-tuning your competition experience. Duration of each workout, length of time waiting between each workout, weather conditions, intensity required in the workout, amount of weight on the bar, and your emotional state during the competition all play into your meal and rest planning.
The best advice anyone has ever given me, was telling me not to worry too much about the other athletes, or the weather conditions, or the type of music they are playing. Everyone is competing in the same environment; and the victor will always be the one who has trained the hardest despite any environmental factor. Be prepared the best you can be, and do the best you can do, and let the pieces fall where they may.