How to Prepare for Your First Competition
This year’s spring Rainhill Trials are fast approaching, with many of you looking forward to your first ever competition. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when preparing for a competition, especially if you’ve never done it before, so we put together a few tips to get you started
1. Dial in Your Nutrition
In the build up to your first competition, you should focus your nutrition to fuel your training and recovery. It’s easy to get caught out here, especially if you follow the Paleo Diet, as your body might not be getting the appropriate range of macronutrients.
Don’t assume a low-carb approach to nutrition is best. Everyone’s different, but most people typically need a moderate amount of carbohydrates for optimal performance. As well as using carbohydrates for energy pre-workout, try to include some with your post-workout snack. When you train intensely, the glycogen stores in your muscles are depleted. According to the research, the best way to replenish this lost glycogen, and improve your recovery, is by consuming fast-digesting carbohydrates with your protein shake, as soon as you finish a workout.
You also need to make sure you’re eating enough. If you’re preparing for a competition, now is not the time to restrict your calories in a bid to look good with your t-shirt off! Your body needs the energy – depriving yourself may leave you burnt out, and unable to perform your best on the day.
2. Train Smartly
Overtraining in the build up to a competition is a terrible idea. Many first-time competitors think they should be cramming in as many WODs as possible, but this is a mistake. The last thing you need is to feel exhausted and burnt-out on competition day.
The key is consistency. Plan ahead, and make sure you turn up at the box when you say you will. If you have any weaknesses (who doesn’t?), make sure you spend some time working on them during open gym. In a competition environment, form is everything. Not only is good technique safer, but it’s more efficient too.
If you have any injuries or niggles, make sure you don’t aggravate them. Instead, focus on rehabilitation in the weeks leading up to event day – you need to make sure you can handle anything thrown your way!
3. Focus on Your Recovery
When you’re training regularly, how you recover is just as important as the time you spend in the gym. To perform your best, you need to dedicate some time to recovery. The most important aspect of recovery is sleep. Ideally, you should be getting 7-8 hours per night to maximise your body’s restorative processes.
Take 30 minutes each day to foam roll and stretch any tight areas, and work on your mobility. Nutrition plays a key role here too, as does supplementation. Eat foods with anti-inflammatory properties, such as fish, leafy greens and nuts , and consider introducing supplements that have been found to boost recovery, like BCAAs, fish oils and magnesium.
4. Change Your Mindset
The main thing that sets apart experienced athletes is their mindset – they’re mentally strong, and confident in their ability to commit to any workout.
The Rainhill Trials is a great event to start with, as it’s been designed to accommodate athletes at all levels. It doesn’t matter whether you’re new to the sport, or have been WOD-ing for years, believe in yourself and have faith you’ve been assigned to the right group.
Don’t panic when the workouts are released – even if it seems your worst nightmare’s come true. Competitions are designed to be challenging, and you’ll be surprised by what you can achieve when the crowd’s behind you and your adrenaline’s pumping. Practice some positive self-talk in the build up to the competition, and don’t become to fixated on the end result – it’s supposed to be fun!
5. Be Prepared
When the big day arrives, make sure you’re prepared. Leaving everything until the last minute will only add to your pre-competition nerves and anxiety. Pack your gym bag a couple of days before, and make sure you have all the equipment you need, as well as a couple of kit changes.
Most importantly, make sure you have enough food to get you through the day. Prepare meals and snacks that are easy to digest, and provide a lasting energy boost. Almond butter, fruit, green smoothies and protein shakes are all essential!
Once you have the workout schedule, plan your meals. It’s a good idea to eat something soon after you leave the floor – allowing plenty of time before your next workout.