Marcha Van Glaanen Weijgel is the no.1 Dutch Master (45-49) and 51st in the World after this years Open and Qualifiers. Co-owner of CrossFit® Flames, she’s been lighting some fires across Europe and standing on more than her fair share of podiums! In this blog post, she explains how she deals with competition day.
How do you deal with stress, nutrition, hydration and mental preparation during a competition? In this blog Crossmaxx athlete Marcha gives you tips, that really help her during competition days. “Of course, it is not explicit that everything has the same effect for every athlete, but I expect these tips to work for roughly 85-100% of the athletes.”
“In a previous blog, I have already explained extensively how you can prepare yourself for the competition. That should certainly be in order before the following tips can have any effect at all.
You have to see it like this: you do go to a running competition either, if you only have one of the two soles in your shoes. You also don’t go to a powerlift competition and leave one of your kneestraps or your powerlift belt at home or go to your competition with only eating half of your meal. So I assume that you are well prepared for your competition.
Stress during competition day
No stress at all can result in a laconic posture, less adrenaline rushes through the body and a lack of a sharp mind, which can lead to lower performance.
Too much stress can result in the athlete making unnecessary mistakes, having less insight in what is going to happen during the competition and sometimes even carrying out an exercise quite differently than normal. Often the coach and even spectators see a completely different athlete than they are used to, because uncertainty is the dominant factor.
Optimal stress during a competition day is the best an athlete can have.
With optimal stress I mean: adrenaline rushes through the body, just before the WOD starts and during the visualization of the competition, with the result that the athlete already sees the workout in his head and ‘feels’ all the movements. This means a slight form of stress goes through the body and a certain form of self-confidence is formed: the athlete becomes 1 with the movements, the competition field and the other athletes around him.
Nutrition on a competition day
Nutrition is very important, so also on a competition day.
In the week before the competition, I recommend bulking, so take about 500-750 cal a day more than usual, so you build up enough reserves for the competition day itself.
However, this does not apply to all athletes, because some athletes have a lower metabolism, so they do not feel comfortable with that little extra food.
This is therefore a personal aspect, which also involves looking at the ratio of the normal daily calorie intake of the athlete in question.
I eat around 2800-3200 calories per day and the 500-750 cal extra in the bulk week is based on that. You can therefore assume a 15-20% increase in calories, evenly distributed over the percentages of fats, proteins and carbohydrates that you normally already use.
On the competition day itself, it is important that you take nutrition, of which you know how your body reacts to it. Do not try new things on the day itself, because it may well be that your body is not responding well, with the result that you will perform badly.
Of course it is good to take your protein shakes during this day (preferably immediately after a workout in the competition) and before the workout BCAAs, which are essential and can not be made by the body itself. This means that you have to take them through your diet or supplements. The effect of BCAAs is very important. After all, the BCAAs are directly absorbed by the muscles in contrast to the other amino acids that are first stored in the liver. It can help to prevent muscle breakdown when you take them before the WOD. Your body breaks down muscles during exercise and this can be prevented by taking these supplements. After the competition, BCAAs can contribute to improving protein synthesis, which in turn can be beneficial for the muscle building of the body.
Hydrate on a competition day
In addition to water and other sports drinks I also use O.R.S. (Oral Rehydration Solution) to hydrate my body. This is why I recommend this for other athletes, especially if they have a high level of combustion or do exercises in a very hot environment, because you often lose a lot of fluid during exercise.
This ensures that your body stores the water etc. better. With the loss of moisture also salts and sugars disappear and the body needs those. The chance of dehydration is bigger if you exercise in a hot country, but can also occur when the body does not stay hydrated enough.
Mental preparation for the competition day
During many competitions you have to wait between the workouts. This is the moment when you can prepare yourself mentally for the next workout.
You can prepare yourself the best mentally by getting the following aspects under control:
1. your breathing
2. muscle tension
3. visualization of the next workout
At point 1 it mainly comes down to regularity. What works for me is during 5 minutes, 5 seconds of breathing through the nose and breathing out through the mouth. This provides overall mental rest, a reduction in heart rate and control over the muscles in your body. After a workout it is natural that the tension of your muscles is high, resulting in local pain, due to lactate accumulation. For example, if you just had a workout with rope climbs, overhead lunges and thrusters with a fat bar, it is not unlikely that your forearms will be sore afterwards. The tension that you now feel on your forearms can be taken away by means of massage, a cold water bath, a Freezlab session (cryotherapy) or a Compex session. It depends on what is available for you on the competition location.
The power of visualization
Finally, you will have to prepare for the next workout of the competition with looking at the exercises, your current position in relation to the other athletes and the visualization of the rest of the day. For me this works best when I listen to music, with my eyes closed in a room that is not too busy. This year it was perfect, because the organization of The Amsterdam Throwdown had ensured a warm, enclosed space that was exclusively accessible to athletes.
I hope my blog can help you with your next competition.
Marcha van Glaanen Weijgel