Recovery During Regionals/Games Competition
Written by Kenzie Riley
2017 & 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games Individual Qualifier
We hear a lot about recovery in the competitive CrossFit space. It’s almost a “buzz word” these days. From diet, to nutritional supplementation, to body work, to rest, and then of course sleep; these factors all impact the body’s ability to bounce back efficiently. When you literally beat your body into the ground for 4-5 hours a day and in not just a physical way but a mental way, to avoid setbacks around injury or over-training, recovery is critical and requires even more effort than the actual training!
When competing either as a weekend warrior or at the highest levels of an official CrossFit Sanctioned event, recovery methods should be routine and without much deviation. This is not because you do everything exactly the same on game-day as you would on a typical training day, but rather to ensure you have developed a trusted set of recovery tools that are now available to you such that you can draw upon the correct ones during that long weekend of fitness. To emphasize this point, part of being efficient at recovering in between events is knowing exactly what to do and having that knowledge set in stone well before showing up to compete.
Tip: I encourage you to challenge yourself, when you see that weird mobility tool, taped lacrosse balls, compression gear, etc.. ask questions, it’s the best way to learn and it’ll pay dividends.
From my experience at this past 2018 CrossFit Regional, the typical recovery window was about 16 hours from the finish of the last event of the day to finding myself back at the starting line the following day. For me, that 16 hours allowed for the opportunity to cool down properly, drink a recovery shake (American Gainz - wink wink), hit up my body work girl (shout out to Allison w/ WODbody), get into an Epsom salt bath, eat a solid dinner, connect to My Power Dot (muscle stimulator), and then watch some light TV to wind down and ultimately fall asleep.
I find that staying connected to social media, leader-boards, and socializing TOO much really keeps me over stimulated and distracted. Adrenaline, anxiety, and nerves are already in abundance, no need to add to it!
Historically, I’ve had a hard time eating during competition weekends, but food is SUCH a big part of recovery. There comes a point where eating ANYTHING is acceptable. It may not be “healthy” but if its palatable and makes you want to eat, you eat it. This is something I’ve come to make peace with and draw upon when the time calls! Overall, the style/schedule of the CrossFit Regional Competition is a much more manageable time table that really promotes adequate time for recovery efforts! The Games however, that’s a different story all together. At The Games there is MUCH more hustle and bustle to and from the venue, not to mention if you get pulled for a random drug test, if the lines are long at Whole Foods, or traffic is backed up. Oh, and the “see ya at 7am for athlete briefing” as you depart the venue at 8pm the previous night is an extra added challenge. Your legs are so sore you can barely walk, you got 5 hours of sleep, and hardly could eat anything for breakfast. You KNOW you don’t have an ideal recovery setup, but that doesn't mean you can't perform, it just means being disciplined in your efforts to recover is even more critical if you plan to stay in the competition.
So although there is not enough time to recover how you would like, EVERYONE is faced with this same challenge so it’s important to realize that you are not special and to mentally rise above what you KNOW and let your body fight for what you WANT.
Tip: Keep in mind, this is “The Games” I am referring to, I wouldn’t advise entering this type of structured intensity any other time nor would I sacrifice my typical recovery efforts and risk injury for any off-season competition.
This said, come Sunday of Games weekend I would venture to say most athletes are fueled more by adrenaline and the excitement of the competition than other aspects. It’s incredible what a little hype can do to a beat down body, so in this case, let the “energy” of the moment take over, embrace it!
In closing, remember that time spent towards your recovery is just as important as time spent training, so invest in your knowledge, ask questions, and make GAINZ to your recovery tool set!!!