by Jen McMahon
Did you know there is something you could be doing today that could improve your scores in the CrossFit Open? My name is Jen McMahon and I’m a Running Coach and a Health Coach. While this is my first Open experience, I have been a runner for about 14 years and I have been training for a variety of different races in that time including my first Ultra Marathon last year. Having a race date on the calendar to prep and train for is similar in many ways, but not in the ways you might think. You may be showing up at the gym practicing your wall balls, double unders, and overhead squats and while that is super valuable, there is more to the equation than just practice.
As a runner I have learned over the years that before a race I need to make sure I'm fueled properly. The Open is really no different. Hydration, for example, doesn't just matter on the day of your event but in the many days leading up to it. Same thing goes for your nutrition. If you're fueling your body with junk before your upcoming Open WOD, you're likely not showing up with your best effort in the gym, despite your hours of practice. To maximize your performance, it is best to think through all of the different ways you can give your body what it needs to do well.
Tips you can start today that'll help enhance your practice:
1. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water (yes, actual water) everyday, particularly leading up to your Open Workout. Water is not only needed to support your organs and your blood flow, but it is crucial to optimize our muscles for use and recovery.
2. Pay attention to what kind of foods set you up for success. This will be different for everyone, so it is important to understand what works for you. Simple carbs and processed foods often spike our energy immediately but leave us feeling lethargic later. Make sure you're eating plenty of real food that will give your body clean energy for the long run.
3. While quality of food is key, timing is also important. If your body is still digesting food, it likely won't be able to focus completely on the task at hand (like helping you PR in your squat cleans), so it is critical to make sure you're eating well before your workout to give you that energy you need without distracting from your goal.
4. Another important part of fueling your body has to do with recovery. I know it can often feel like we need to push ourselves to the limit at every opportunity, but if our bodies and minds aren't getting enough down time, that strategy can backfire. Plan ahead to make sure you're getting adequate sleep and rest (two different things) before your upcoming workout to ensure you're able to give it your all when it counts.
It’s too much!
When done right, these tips can really help you become the best athlete you can be and make sure you're ready to maximize performance when you need to. That said, it doesn't mean these are always easy to prioritize in our busy lifestyles. My suggestion is to pick one or two of the items on the list above to get started with. Perhaps you pick the tips that would be the easiest to accomplish before your next Open WOD. This process isn't about perfection, it is about experimenting with proper fueling so you can excel when it matters. The best athletes out there are in constant pursuit of an ideal combination of all these elements and more. So do as the experts do and practice, not just with your workouts, but also with what fuels your body best so you can experience peak performance when you need it most.