Comparing a CrossFit competition to everyday training is like comparing a bachelor party to a beer with dinner. One leaves you buzzed, the other leaves you wounded and face tattooed in the city of sin.
Back here we spoke of the “Why” and the “How” competing. The greatness it brings, the saturation of every human cell in confidence and increased fitness. If applied judiciously, competition is a never ending pool of accomplishment. If taken too lightly, it just hurts.
Recently, local and abroad, athletes have been emailing or speaking about the greatest of contest results, followed by bitterness than can only be described as a “competition hangover”. “I think I am going to pass out”, an athlete recently said two days after his latest competitive effort. “I just don’t get why I don’t fell like I did before I competed,” commented another athlete. “I can’t walk,” was a late night text, of which I replied, “great. Sleep.”
How we get hungover
Some of us have a machine that runs perceivably well even if we never change the oil or pop the hood for much of it’s life. The other 99% of us, have machines that get pissy when we ask it to handle an excessive amount of anything. Good or bad. (Is there really too much good?)
Alcohol and such are poisons, you get what you deserve if that’s your choice. Carbohydrates, grains, dairy, and the like are really no different and if your still on that train then your living perpetually hungover and you don’t even know what good fells like. Hormones, specifically the ones expressed during competitions, are a little different.
The adrenals, among other systems, keep us ramped up. We become “competition strong”, we feel “competition high”. The stimulation is what we crave. The over-stimulation is what enhances us after we leave the competition floor. It’s the comedown we have to watch out for, not the high itself. After the race is won, or at least ran, even the best cars come into the pit. Your body was made to run incredibly hard, but it also needs tuned up from time to time.
Some athletes are very intuitive when it comes to competition. They may have done it often and they sort of mold into their post-competition phase naturally. Others, novice competitors, or those trying something new, find difficulty recovering so quickly.
If you changed something this time, or if it was somehow very different from everything else you have ever attempted, then plan for a “grace” period after the the event. Essentially, all the post-competition grace period does is give you time to get un-high before you get locked up.
Your Grace period is necessary, and different than your partners just as your effort during the competition was. Different, just as your strengths and weaknesses are. Assume that you are “like” everyone else, not that you are the “same”. That slight difference in code is what makes you need to take on extra day off, one more massage, one more “light” day. It’s also the reason the athlete next to you, doesn’t.
Some competitors get a little torqued or “hero hurt”. They do something they have never done, they push harder than they ever have, and they pay with a tweak, pull, sprain or something. Sometimes, they have no clue they have done this until a week or so later.
Now, I am actually OK with athletes going balls to the wall throwing much, not all, caution to the wind. I think that’s how we achieve greatness, and I think we are glorified more so than damaged. However, I do believe it puts us right on that line. A line that we cross when we get home and forget to start training back at the on-ramp, not the highway.
Much of this unknown “hero hurt” could be eliminated by testing the waters after your competition is over. I know the motivation to be more awesome is high, but you only get more awesome if you can train, and training is often stalled simply because we didn’t see how cold the pool was before we jumped in.
Competition without withdrawal
Just as you arrived at the competition with a plan beginning weeks and weeks prior, you should return home with a plan.
Increasing your Calories is the first thing one should do after exhausting the adrenals in a more than normal way. Not only will this calm your nerves, it will add slabs of muscle. Competition increases protein synthesis leaving your body primed for fat burning and muscle gaining. For the next five days, eat more. Roughly 25-35% more in some cases.
Blood pressure monitoring upon awakening is a trick athletes have been doing for as long as I know. Today, with “I” everything, it’s even simpler. It would have been good to get a baseline blood pressure reading every morning well before your competition. After you have developed a baseline, then continue the process just for fun during your competition. After, if your blood pressure upon awakening is elevated, pull back your training significantly. Chances are your not recovered enough to put your best foot forward.
Sleeping more would help heal tissue, mental and physical. You might not notice it, and it may in truth not even happen to you, but some athletes are simply “lost” after a competition. For days they live in a fog that their friends and family notice of which they have no clue of. Sleep, resets post competition Alzheimer’s.
Massage is damaging just like the competition was. However, if applied logically and with a qualified human, it ensures the metabolic waste from the effort is dealt with appropriately. Not excessive or to the point of inappropriate inflammation, but again a qualified specialist knows exactly what recovery based massage is after a competition of any sort.
Omega 3 can be increased depending on your current allotment. If your taking less than 8 grams of Omega three per day, you could kick up your current dosage by at least 20%. If your already at 8 grams or more, chances are the benefits will go unnoticed.
No athlete functions exactly the same when it comes to stimulation or over-stimulation. After you have tested the waters with multiple competitions, then you can attempt a more dramatic or quick form of recovery, or lack thereof. Until then, the post competition hangover can either become a thing of the past, or something that diminishes the returns we received from competing in the first place.
*Add weight to ensure failure at (8) reps if necessary.
8-Lateral box jumps 20/24
8-Right arm Db snatch 35/55
AMRAP 4 Minutes
-recover (2) minutes
8-Box jumps 20/24
8-Left arm Db snatch 35/55
AMRAP 4 Minutes
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