Competing in CrossFit: Tips From Experience
By: Coach Calla Staads
With the boom of CrossFit all around the world, more and more people are stepping into “boxes,” throwing on their wrist wraps and board shorts, and, lets face it, getting fit! The CrossFit games season, beginning with the Open, followed by the Regionals, and capped off with the Games, spans from the end of February through July. As a result, the local competition season seems to thrive in the fall. And since fall is almost upon us (cross your fingers for some cooler temperatures), there are competitions popping up locally almost every weekend. At CrossFit Unchained, we have many athletes jumping on these local opportunities and signing up for their first ever CrossFit competition(s).
I have been CrossFitting for 2.5 years and have enjoyed testing my fitness at numerous local competitions (eight so far, to be exact). Through these experiences I have learned a lot about what to expect, what to bring, and how best, in my opinion, to approach these events. As we have so many new competitors just now preparing for their big day(s), I thought I would share some of this knowledge to hopefully help ease the inevitable jitters and make for an amazing, fulfilling competition experience.
If you can, try to get together with your team at least a couple of times before the event to practice WODs (if they have been released) or at least experience working out together in some sort of team format. This will help you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and make potential strategy choices easier. Do not go crazy on your own workouts the week leading up to the event, especially later in the week. I typically work out as I normally would the week before the competition. However, I make sure not to do anything that is going to leave me especially sore or that will tear my hands. I like to take a rest day on Friday, usually with some sort of low intensity activity and some heavy foam rolling. Eat as clean as you can throughout the week, but if this is a big change for you, it might be better to stick with a “normal” diet for yourself so you don’t throw your body completely off.
2. What to bring:
I follow the mantra that it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. With that being said, there are some things you will want for sure.
· Pop up tent/canopy/anything to get you out of the sun and mark your territory for your gear/bags
· Mats/Blanket (if you have them) to lie on the ground
· Anything you have ever or will ever need/want for a WOD, not limited to, but including:
o Wrist wraps
o Knee sleeves
o Lifting belt
o Jump rope
o Special socks
o Special shoes
o Extra shoes
· Plenty of extra clothes - makes sure to check the weather forecast.
· Sandals - so your feet can air out
· Food - more than you think you will need. I will talk about this more later
· Bug spray
· Chalk – this can sometimes be hard to come by at the event
· Foam roller
· Lacrosse ball(s)
· Extra toilet paper
· Trash bag
3. What to eat:
This is a very person-to-person type of thing, but there are some generals here. Bring more food than you think you will need. Most importantly, bring food that is typical for you. Don’t bring some fancy new paleo meal that you have never eaten, as you don’t know how your stomach will react. I like to bring fast digesting foods. Some good foods to pack are:
· Chicken or turkey
· Protein powder
· Coconut water
· LOTS of water (at least a gallon)
· Energy bars
· Granola/trail mix
During the competition day you most likely will not feel like eating, but you need to refuel after each event. Your body needs the fuel to sustain you for the entire day’s events.
4. Competition structure:
Typically, competitions will begin early in the morning and run until some time in the afternoon. You should receive a schedule ahead of time. Keep in mind, these events rarely run on time and usually go over by at least an hour. If you can avoid it, try not to make any important plans for that Saturday night, as you cannot predict exactly when the competition will wrap up. Most events will have you check in sometime around 7am (verify you/your team is present, receive your shirts, sign a waiver) and will begin sometime around 8am. There will be multiple heats for each event. Unless you have a good friend competing in a different heat, try not to stand around all day watching other competitors. If your heat is not going, use the time to stretch out, warm up, cool down, eat, or rest. Typically, you will have three events. Your time between events can be as little as one hour or sometimes as much as 3 hours. Try to “go with the flow” in regards to the schedule.
5. Judging and scoring:
I go into competitions with the attitude that as long as I do my very best and do not give up, I will be happy. Most staff and judges at local events are volunteers. They are great people giving up their day so you can compete. With that being said, expect the judging to be at least a little inconsistent and the scoring to sometimes be a little wonky. We are all human, after all. Try your best not to get agitated about things outside of your control. Ask your judge any and all questions you have before the event and make sure to thank them for their time.
6. Have fun!
Testing your fitness, competing with friends, and pushing yourself beyond your limits are all fun. Regardless of your placement, remember that the biggest goal of the competition day is to have a damn good time. Sure, you will likely learn about yourself. Hopefully you will make some new friends as well as memories. But beyond everything, have fun. Try not to take yourself TOO seriously. Enjoy the moment, laugh a little (or a lot), and proudly represent the CrossFit Unchained family, as I know you all will.
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
CrossFit Unchained Coach