Written by Jacob Tsypkin
As most people who know me are aware, I’m not a big fan of my CrossFit Games hopefuls doing competitive exercise in the off season. I am generally of the opinion that most “throwdowns” are poorly planned and poorly executed. More often than not, they have silly events (one of my athletes had her hand broken in an event which was literally a bunch of people throwing forty pound rocks over a volleyball net in close quarters,) and apart from rare exceptions, most athletes cannot treat them as pure practice, and will end up manipulating their training in order to peak for what is, in the end, an unimportant event.
I like to have my athletes compete in weightlifting during the off season instead. The stress is much lower, there’s less that can go wrong, and it doesn’t affect the training schedule nearly as much.
But, if you absolutely must get your fitness-for-time fix outside of the official CrossFit Games season and events, here are some suggestions for selecting a contest which is likely to contribute to your off season training rather than detract from it, and approaching it in a way that won’t leave you too smoked to train the week after.
1) Find a reputable event.
At this point, most regions have an event or two which have been running for at least a couple of years. I’d recommend finding one of these, and asking people who have been to them about their experience. You don’t want to end up with a rock crushing some of your parts, or running yourself over with a car.
Less obvious but very important is finding an event that is well run. You don’t want this to be something that stresses you out. It’s practice and fun. I promise, if you get to the competition, get ready to go, and don’t compete until four hours after you were supposed to start, you’re gonna have a bad time.
2) One day events only.
This shouldn’t be something you need to dedicate more than a single morning and afternoon to. You shouldn’t need more than one night away from home, you don’t want the stress of multiple days of competition, and you cannot afford to miss a significant amount of training days to go play a grown-up game of big fish in a little pond.
3) Stay close to home.
This can be tough, as it can be at odds with the first two suggestions. It’s not always easy to find a competition that’s reputable, and only one day, and also within an easy driving distance. With that said, this is probably less important than number one, and on par with number two. The added stress and time of travel, not to mention the potential financial strain, make it worthwhile to attempt to find a contest as nearby as possible.
4) Do not peak.
There is a time to train and a time to compete, and if you’re seriously training for competition in the CrossFit Games, the time to compete doesn’t come until the Open. If you’re competing in the off season, you need to train through the event, period. Show up, do the best you can given your current state, have fun, go home.
5) Practice competing.
If you’re going to compete in the off season, you should be using the experience for more than just seeing how good you are at box jumps and thrusters. Practice your game day procedures. Figure out how soon before competing you should eat – it may be different than training days due to nerves. Figure out what you should eat post event. Try different ways of recovering between events – do you do well if you go back to your hotel, or are you too stressed out? Do ice baths between events help you relax and re energize, or make you feel stiff and slow? This is an opportunity to get ready for game day – don’t waste it.