With Battle of Baltimore approaching, we’ve been getting questions on how to handle training, nutrition and more leading up to the event. With that in mind, we wanted to share some pro tips to get our IA athletes feeling strong, prepared and ready to battle. These tips are great for the Battle but can be applied to other competitions as well. Things we will discuss are considerations for pre-competition preparation, day-of nutrition and competition day tips, tricks and logistics.
Comp-Prep: Before the Big Day
- Sleep: Arguably the most impactful factor of all is getting enough shut-eye. You know what to do, so make it a priority! If you’re really struggling, set a nightly alarm for one hour prior to your ideal bedtime. During that hour, dim the lights, try to get off your screens, make some tea, do ten minutes of yoga, meditate – whatever combination of factors will get your mind and body winding down for the day. Try to do this for as many days as possible in the week leading up to the comp.
- Deload: We want to deload intensity – and possibly volume, if you’ve been doing work outside of classes – the entire week-of. Don’t stop coming to class entirely – this will result in you feeling like a tin-man come Saturday – but do check yourself when it comes to weight on the bar (or kettlebell, dumbbell, etc.) and perceived exertion, which I show as “% effort” in the sample deload week, below. Your last all-out effort should be no later than Tuesday. Avoid any movements or workouts that will leave you overly sore, or tear up your hands.
A deload week may look like:
80-90% effort WOD on Monday, 60% effort WOD on Tuesday, 70-80% effort WOD on Wednesday, rest day or yoga on Thursday, and 20-30 minutes of Zone 2 followed by 20+ minutes of mobility on Friday.
Nutrition for Competition Day
My college roommate was a phenomenal swimmer who could eat a piece of pizza as she was jumping into the pool for a grueling training session. If this doesn’t make you a little nauseous just thinking about it – congratulations, you’ve got an iron stomach. For the rest of us, here are some ideas to keep the energy going without throwing up on competition day.
- Don’t Eat Anything New:
Trying new foods is great, but today is not that day – unless you have a stomach of iron, and *especially not* if you have a sensitive system. Stick with easy-to-digest food, in snack-size portions, with familiar ingredients that have worked well for you in the past. Don’t be the CrossFit equivalent of the marathoner that gets a bunch of energy gels for race day but doesn’t test them beforehand, only to pay the gastrointestinal price mid-double under.
- Eat A Solid Breakfast 3 Hours Before Your First Event Time:
Try to get some food in your system before leaving the house. If you are the type of person that can get yourself up around 5:30 or 6 am, this is your opportunity to get in a real meal before a long day of fueling with bird food (perhaps surprisingly, one of the more exciting things about being done with a competition is finally eating a real meal again at dinner – while you celebrate with your teammates!).
Heartier Ideas for the Early-Riser:
- Oatmeal w/ honey + almond butter + side of fruit + 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs
- Spinach, tomato and feta omelet w/ toast
- Fried Egg + BLT + Avocado all on top of a bagel w/ fruit on the side
Anything with 20+ g protein plus carbs and fat will do the trick. Get at least two cups of water with your cup of coffee or tea (if you usually have caffeine), too.
Slightly Quicker-Digesting Ideas for the Late-Riser:
- Smoothie: Handful of frozen fruit, handful of spinach, generous scoop of yogurt, scoop of protein powder, tablespoon of chia seeds, flax seeds or nut butter, and milk of choice to fill the gaps.
- Snack Options to Bring With You and Nibble On Between Events:
Fresh or Dried fruit: I prefer fresh because you get bonus hydration, but if you opt for dried fruit, just make sure to drink water as you eat.
Trail Mix: A hiking staple because it’s easy to pack and energy-dense.
Fuel For Fire: Gets its own category because I love these so much (clearly biased). I eat these in the middle of workouts all the time. Protein + Easy to Digest Carbs. Boom. There are vegan options if whey does not agree with your systen. Option to make your own.
Homemade Protein Balls: These are my favorite mid-comp bites. They are the easiest to make (dump the ingredients in a bowl, stir or blend, roll into bit-sized balls, refrigerate or freeze overnight). Pop them in a tupperware and don’t forget to grab them from the fridge/freezer on your way out the door for day-of munching. They have carbs, protein and a little fat to keep you going! My go-to is the oatmeal chocolate peanut butter variety, but these matcha with chia seeds and key lime pie recipes look like delicious ways to switch it up!
Rice Cakes: Bring greek yogurt and or nut butter to spread on your rice cakes, then top with berries, apple or banana slices. Sprinkle cinnamon if you’re extra, like me. Perfect little snacks you can assemble on the spot.
Electrolytes: If it were summer in Baltimore, this would be at the top of the list. Fortunately, we won’t be sweating for hours on end and struggling to replenish fluids. Still, we should of course be sipping water throughout the day. If you’re a heavy sweater, a NUUN / LMNT / Liquid IV / pinch of salt + lemon in your water bottle isn’t a bad idea.
Mini-Meals for if you have 90+ minutes before working out again: Meat Stick (I love Epic Bars) or Two Hard Boiled Eggs + Crackers or Pita Chips + Cut Up Veggie Sticks (carrots, celery, bell peppers) and Hummus. Make yourself a mini charcuterie board in the warm up area and enjoy. If you’re not into that, pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
And there you have it. Besides not eating a steak dinner, greasy pizza slice or lasagna right before you walk onto the comp floor, there’s no hard or fast rules for how to eat on competition day. Carb + protein – rich snacks and small meals will do their job to keep your glycogen stores up throughout the day, along with plenty of water. When in doubt, stick to faster digesting carbs (e.g. fruit, rice cakes) and small portions of protein (10-15 g) with less than an hour to go before an event, and use the time right after events to get a little more fuel in your system (mini meals) while you have 90+ minutes to digest.
Competition Day – Competing!
1. Athlete briefing and movement standards.
Workouts are released a week or so before the competition but the details and flow are explained during the athlete briefing in the morning. Make sure to show up on time (or better yet early) and pay attention, because a lot of questions are answered.
2. Have a plan, and be ready for it to fall apart.
With the workouts released ahead of time, you and your team will know most of what’s coming up. Discuss strengths, weaknesses, and a rough idea of who wants to do what, but also be ready for things to fall apart when intensity kicks in.
Let’s say there are 100 burpee pullups…If Candace does 15 reps, then Matt does 13, Matt should tell Milo “We’re at 28”.. Not “I did 13”
If you have designated reps you are switching off on, count the last 2 reps out loud so your partner knows you are switching out. Chances are they are not counting as you go.
4. Don’t change it up on game day
Don’t do anything you don’t normally do in training.
Never worn a belt? Don’t start now.
Got new shoes? They’re probably not broken in.
Go with what you know!
5. Listen to your judge
What they say goes. Make your reps clear, and leave no doubt.
Then, sign your scorecard and give them a high five. What they do isn’t easy, and they’re doing it all for a free sandwich.
6. Game Day Recovery
Recovery between workouts is important, bring any recovery tools you might want as well as warm layers and a small chair to stay comfy on down time between workouts.
7. Have fun
Really…That’s why we’re here, so make sure to enjoy getting uncomfortable and make some new friends!