“I’m not sure I’m ready to compete” are words I hear often among people in the gym. Not being interested in competing is a valid reason not to. But wanting to compete and not feeling ready is not a reason to sit on the sidelines. Here are some practical tips to ensure you are ready for competition.
Commonly heard as the clock is being set for the daily WOD. So, are you? If you’re like me, when I hear that word, part of me wants to run screaming “NO!” from the building and the other part of me yells, “Bring it!” The same questions that run through your mind before the daily WOD are not unlike those you will face before a competition. In some ways, showing up at your box for the WOD is not a lot different from showing up on competition day. It’s just that the competition really counts. And people are watching.
Competition doesn’t have to be feared or avoided. You, yes, you can compete! The following are some ways to help ensure your success.
“3… 2… 1… GO!”
I hope this doesn’t have to be said, but you should be training regularly before entering a competition. You should also see your doctor for yearly checkups to make sure you are healthy and physically able to withstand the high intensity training. But specifically, how can you tell if you’re competition ready?
Eat well—“Garbage in, garbage out.” The best diet is one based on eating a variety of whole foods, avoiding added sugar and processed foods. Find what works for you.
Supplement—it’s difficult to get the amount of vitamins, minerals, protein and BCAAs needed for adequate recovery by eating. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so be sure to take high quality products. Again, find what works for you.
Drink well—water, tea and coffee. With coffee and smoothie shops found on nearly every street corner in most cities, it can be quite easy to consume extra calories in the form of sugar.
Sleep well—studies are now showing that a lack of sleep leads to an increase in calorie consumption, and because our bodies repair during sleep, we should be getting at least 8 hours.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Failing to plan is planning to fail” (versions of this quote are attributed to Ben Franklin, Winston Churchill and Alan Lakein).
Find a competition—brand new to fitness competitions? Try a beginner’s competition, they tend to be smaller and usually offer 2 levels of scaled divisions. If not, look to see the standards on the competitions that are available. Be sure you are able to do the exercises and weights listed. Consider entering the team division. Having a partner for your first competition can ease jitters.
Rally support—having friends there to cheer you on will help calm your nerves and give you that extra boost you need to push during the event.
Ask more veteran competitors for advice. How do they fuel for competition? How do they warm up and stay warm on competition day?
Once you’ve registered, but sure to follow the competition’s website and social media pages for updates.
While you can’t pre-create all the factors that exist on competition day, you can practice techniques so that there are as few surprises as possible.
If you are feeling insecure about any of the standard exercises, practice them. Become comfortable and confident with those standard moves.
Some competitions will release the WODs well in advance of the event. If this is the case, you should practice the WODs. If you aren’t completely comfortable with the weights, scale the practice.
If the WODs aren’t released in enough time to allow for practice and proper rest before the event, then stage your own mock WODs. You already know the standards. Put together your own WODs using the same standards and work through them.
Most competitions will have 3 or 4 WODs on the same day, with an hour or two of rest between. Practice a similar day. Again, scale if you need to. Protect yourself from injury. I find it helpful to practice fueling strategies before the big day. At the very least do a few 2-a-days, where you do a morning WOD and then one in the afternoon.
Pre-competition jitters/butterflies/nerves are absolutely normal! Don’t assume that means you aren’t ready! Have a mantra (a short, powerful statement that will help change your nervous thinking into power thinking)—something like “Never quit” or “Push hard.”
On competition day, you will be nervous. Use that energy to feed into a strong performance.
Pack well. Take water, food and supplements, a change of clothes, towel, chalk, your belt and wraps. Some competitors bring foam rollers, lacrosse balls, etc. Better to over pack than under pack.
Know registration, check-in and start times. Get there early.
Amy Lawson is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer, English teacher, wife of a strength coach and mom to 2 teen boys. She competes in CrossFit, Elite Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, and just about anything else that presents a new and different challenge.