The Skill of Competing

“If you’re not gonna go all the way, why go at all?” 

― Joe Namath

With the CrossFit Open only a few days away, I can’t help but think back to the previous six opens that I was privileged to be a part of. I also think back to the dozens of races I entered when I was a runner. Competition is a privilege squandered by many. Competition not only gives you a stage to showcase your hard work, it also gives you a stage to show your true colors. I like to think of competing as a skill. The more you practice, the better you get. Going into my 7th CrossFit Open there are a few things I always like to remind myself of. I am going to share them with you!

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Prepare Properly 

There is no worse feeling than showing up to an event that you know you aren’t prepared for. You can’t control most things that happen during a competition, but you can control what happens before it. Here are a few things you should do to prepare:

  1. Get a good night’s sleep. This may take years of practice. You may not sleep at all the night before your first few competitions, but you should give it your best shot. Try and relax for an hour before you go to bed. This can mean winding down with a favourite TV show, or reading a good book. Slowly, you can train your body to recognize that a competition is coming, and follow the pattern of previous competitions. Create good habits now.
  2. Practice your pre-competition nutrition.The meal you have before you compete can make or break you. Everyone is different, so this will take some practice. Try a few different meals before workouts, and pay attention to how your body responds. Some people do really well with a high carb meal before they compete, while others like a more balanced plate to keep their blood sugar stable.
  3. Visualize the good and the bad.We’ve all heard it before: think positively. I suggest you visualize the competition going as well as it realistically can, but I also suggest you think about how you will handle it if it doesn’t go as well as you’d like. Learning to handle failure is a part of life, and can be just as valuable as winning. Remind yourself that it’s ok to fail!
  4. Warm-up! I get it, your nervous. Warming up can get pushed to the side in all the excitement, but it may be the most important part of your preparation. Warming up can help relieve some of the nerves, as it reminds your body that you know what you’re doing, and are getting it primed to perform.

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It’s OK to be scared

Maybe this is your first competition, or maybe it’s your 7th, and you’re terrified. That’s ok. Think of this as an opportunity to face a challenge in a safe environment. So many real world challenges have already come your way, and more are sure to come. How you respond to those challenges is what matters. Do you chicken out a few seconds before the buzzer goes? No. Do you skip meals because your stomach is uneasy, and then you bomb the workout? No. You do what you have to do and you get the job done! Embrace the fear. Winning isn’t about overcoming fear, it’s about facing it.

 Do it for YOU

Why are you competing? If you want to enjoy the process you need to know why you are doing it. Set clear goals for yourself. Some good ones for the CrossFit Open might look like the following:

  1. Participate in all 5 workouts. Many people get discouraged with their performance, and drop out after the 2nd or 3rd week. If your goal is simply to complete all 5 workouts you will have a win no matter what.
  2. To finish in the top _____ % in the region. If you have competed before in the open, do the math and figure out where you finished. If it was top 30% last year, aim for top 25% this year.

This does NOT define you

This is a competition. This is not life or death. You are not competing to win a million dollars. In 2 weeks no one will remember who won. This should not control you for its duration. What makes you the person you are is how you choose to treat people every single day. This is an opportunity for you to enjoy competition with friends, and is a chance for you to see what you are capable of. Give your all, but don’t let the outcome define you as a person.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

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