Whew… what a month. Over the past 3 weeks, I travelled to the East, Central and Atlantic Regionals to support the 16 athletes that had qualified either on teams or as individuals. Watching them out there competing and really laying their hearts into each workout is something that I’ll never forget or take for granted.
I hope each of them know how incredibly proud of them I am, regardless of the result. Its hard to explain how much work is involved in getting to that point, how many sacrifices are required and the level of focus that it takes. While my job starts as the nutrition coach, inevitably the role usually morphs more into friend/confidant/cheer leader and as a result, I typically end up emotionally invested. In some cases, this actually causes tears of joy that get captured on the live stream (sorrynotsorry).
At the end of three weeks, nine clients will be headed to Madison, WI in August to compete in the Crossfit Games. To be clear, THEY did all the work and I’m just happy to be along for the ride. Some are old friends, some are new to my little team, but I’m really excited for all of them and can’t wait to watch them continue to kick some ass.
What can we learn?
Alright, lets try and make this post actually have some useful information for everyone and not just me bragging about my amazing friends.
COMPETITION FUELING: YOU CAN DO BETTER
So while attending the Regionals, I was also watching athletes (my own and others) to see how they were handling their pre and post workout fueling. To be clear, everyone is different and the strategy involved for each person SHOULD be slightly different based on everything from the workouts, nerves/stress over the events, whether you’re a guy or girl, etc. That said, I saw some critical errors along the way from people and we can do better.
- Eating too close to workouts. Of course we need to fuel our workouts appropriately, but having solid foods within 60 minutes of a workout (even sweet potato) basically means that you’re body is shuttling energy and blood flow to the digestive track when it really needs to be elsewhere. For solid foods, 2.5-3.0 hours of separation to the workout is a good idea.
- Not refueling adequately between workouts. With these regionals there were 2 workouts each day with about 2 hours between them. In this situation, the perfect answer is liquid options for both carbs and protein. If an athlete has REALLY laid themselves out and is in rough shape, the protein might not be doable immediately, but the carbs are something we still want to get in as fast as possible. Dextrose, Maltodextran, Highly Branched Cyclic Dextran… there are a lot of options and which is best is probably an entire different post. Whats critical is you’ve got to have something to both refuel glycogen stores quickly and to help the mind flip into recovery mode and out of the “fight or flight” mode that Regionals often induces.
- Generally underfeeding. I get it… you’re stressed and your appetite sucks as a result. You still absolutely HAVE to eat in the morning before the day gets started. It doesn’t have to be the world’s most micronutrient dense foods if there’s no way you’re going to get it all down. Use macro dense foods instead if they’re more appetizing and allow you to actually swallow them down. Don’t all of a sudden have pancakes if you’ve not had any gluten for 8 weeks… but otherwise, eat whatever you have to to get a solid chunk of calories in. Same thing after each day is over. Eat, eat, eat… if you finish what you’re “supposed” to eat for the day and are still ravenous, DON’T STOP. Going to bed hungry on a competition day because you’ve hit your macros is just crazy talk.
So I was recently put in touch with Dave Durante, co-owner of Power Monkey Fitness, a company that aims to develop better athletes and coaches through interaction with subject matter experts. One of the fun things they do is run a week long, bi-annual camp down in Tennessee. Well…. I’ll be attending the camp and running a Nutrition section for the campers. Needless to say, I’m honored that other people think enough of my work with athletes to invite me to be a part of such an incredible team.
The past 12 months have been absolutely crazy and I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store.