Preparing for competition
Whether you CrossFit (like us) or run, complete triathlons, obstacle courses, boxing or any number of other sports, competition is often a fun and exciting way to test your training and push yourself a little further. For many of us, this can be daunting, but there are many ways you can prepare yourself for a successful, enjoyable competition day.
Maea Winitana, Head Coach and owner of CrossFit Bunbury, has kindly shared some of his strategies with us. From mental preparation, to physically getting your body ready, try these tips for preparing for competition next time you find yourself signed up for an event.
Preparing for a sporting competition is not just about the body, but the mind too. For Maea, mental preparation is everything. He uses meditation and podcasts to stay motivated and on track with his training, and it makes a lot of sense. These strategies are proven to help sleep and recovery, boost your drive to succeed and increase your ability to overcome adversity – all of which help you to become a better athlete, to enjoy your journey and to take on board opportunities for learning and growing. Maea has a selection of favourite podcasts, apps and music which he listens to at night to aid sleep, and others he listens to in the morning on the drive to the gym and before a workout.
On competition day, use what you have learned in your mental preparation to remind yourself that you are in control, focus on what you can do and visualise yourself successfully going through the movements. Control your breathing, stay calm and go into your event with a positive frame of mind.
It goes without saying that a nutritious, balanced diet is pretty important for success in any sport. Maea chooses to follow a vegan macro counting diet, which he has found fits well for his body and mind. On his training days, his protein and carbs intake is a little higher than non-training days and he always makes sure to eat plenty of good fats and lots of veges. To supplement, Maea uses a vegan protein powder and dextrose post-workout to get sugar levels back to normal and aid recovery.
When it comes to competition day, focus on post-event rehydration and eating a small amount of sugar (such as a piece of fruit) can aid in a quick recovery. Keep up with protein and good carbs all day to sustain your energy and balance your blood sugar levels to stay on top of your game.
Regular flexibility and mobility incorporated into your pre-competition training is important in reducing the likelihood of injury and allowing for full, effective movement. Maea’s individualised programming includes mobility components five days a week, and he supplements this with an additional mobility program twice a week.
On the day of competition, don’t skimp on warming up and mobilising properly. If you aren’t sure, check with your coach on the best stretches for the upcoming event. After you have competed, spend a few moments to cool down and bring your heart rate back to normal. Gently stretch the parts of your body that have just worked out to lessen the impact of lactic acid build up and associated soreness.
Game day is approaching!
If you get a chance to practice the workouts or event prior to your sporting competition day, take it. With CrossFit, for example, often some of the workouts are released in the weeks before competition day. Use this opportunity to practice the movement and plan how you are going to approach them, such as how many reps you think you can do, how to break up the workout and get just the right amount of rest for maximum efficiency, and how to breathe through each component. Maea’s advice here is to have a plan A… and a plan B. Look at what your limiting factors are and what is going to slow you down and work off those.
The day before the event, many coaches will advise resting completely. A massage or a float are great ways to iron out any kinks before competition day and help you to relax and stay focused on the task ahead. Get yourself to bed early too, the night before the event and the night after - a sold eight hours will do your body and mind wonders.
On game day, Maea advises you get to the venue early to check it out, become familiar with the layout and have some time to relax before it starts. Use the visualisation and relaxation techniques your learned during preparation to go through the workout or event, picture success and enjoyment, and calm your nerves.
All that’s left then is to go out there, give it your all and have a fantastic day, no matter what happens!