Last week, Leon, a fellow Masters athlete, asked about my CrossFit Recovery Plan for competition. He is preparing for his first CrossFit competition, taking place in a couple weeks
Leon is a strong guy, I don’t think he needs tips on the individual WODs. He needs to know how to ensure he can recover between WODs, and the day following the competition.
This is a frequent topic in several Masters forums I visit.
My CrossFit Recovery Plan can be stated in four words: Food, Water, Rest, Supplementation
I competed in a Masters Team Comp a few weeks ago and my recovery was excellent. This was fascinating considering that I do little CrossFit these days, having switched my attention to Olympic lifting.
But my experience wasn’t always positive. Past Comps have left me trashed for days. But in recent events recovery hasn’t been an issue.
What’s changed? Paleo is what’s changed. I now do what I call “Paleo-plus”.
A year ago I was vigilant about reducing carbs from my diet. This was excellent for fat loss/ weight loss. I felt great, I slept great.
There was so much to be excited about with my Paleo results. I dropped thirty pounds when I switched.
Paleo is excellent for general wellness, but for an athletic lifestyle, one may need more fuel. And for the intensity of CrossFit, an athlete needs more carbs. That’s the “plus” in Paleo-plus.
There are many healthy sources of carbs. I am not suggesting you eat a box of Fruit Loops, a bag of Oreos and drink a Frappucino.
Consider reintroducing white potatoes, sweet potatoes, steel-cut oats and rice back into your diet. Experiment until you find your sweet spot.
If you’re doing a competition, eat more. If you’re only working out 3 or 4 days a week, eat less. Don’t freak out if you gain a few pounds.
I did a Masters Team Comp a few weeks ago. The day before I had breakfast with my friend Julia, from the gym. It was loaded with fat, carbs and protein. My meal was 3 eggs, 4 strips of bacon, 3 sausage links, home fries, multi-grain toast, and 3 pancakes.
Later my wife and I went out to dinner and I had a large steak, mixed veggies and a large sweet potato.
The morning of the Comp, I got up early and prepared a half-pound of salmon, spinach and rice. Yes, I had dinner for breakfast. Salmon is high in protein, but it is also a wonderful source of Omega 3. (For a comprehensive list of Omega 3 rich foods, read Helen’s post at Health Ambitions.)
By now, you’re getting the idea. Eat a lot of high quality food and be sure to fuel yourself with lots of carbs. Snack during the day of the competition, between WODs. I prefer many light snacks, such as nuts, banana, protein shake, or bit of sweet potato.
Drink lots of water. Drink it the day before. Drink it when you wake in the night. Drink it when you wake in the morning. Drink it before the WODs, and between the WODs.
This is the most difficult one to control. I typically go to bed, planning to get 8-9 hours of sleep. But when I wake in the night, the gears start turning again.
This is bad enough during the work week, but it’s often impossible on the eve of a competition. That’s why I can cook a salmon dinner for breakfast at 4:00 a.m.
You may have little control regarding how well you sleep prior to a comp, but you can certainly take charge post-comp. In fact sleep may be the biggest contributor to a great recovery.
FYI – after my last comp I woke up after 8 hours. My head was throbbing. My body ached all over. I drank a large glass of water and went back to bed. I woke up 4 hours later feeling great. Yes, hydration and twelve hours of sleep had this 64 year old body back in the saddle.
Let me state that for sound nutrition, food is the best choice. But there are times when you simply cannot consume the volume or quality of food that you need in a compressed timeframe. So this is a time to consider supplementation.
A quality Protein Shake is helpful between WODs and post-Comp. I also take a high quality fish oil (Omega 3) in the evening before going to bed. I take fish oil for vascular health and to minimize joint inflammation.
To properly absorb magnesium we need a lot of it in our diet, plus enough vitamin B6, vitamin D, and selenium to get the job done. – Dr. Mark Hyman
I also take a Magnesium supplement to help me relax, so I can get a good night sleep, particularly if I am achy from a CrossFit Competition.
These few tips have worked well for me. Since I have adopted these CrossFit Recovery elements into my game plan, I have not had a post-comp meltdown.
This has made the difference between being trashed for a week, or waking up ready to take charge the next day.
What tips can you share regarding how you get through a Comp? What do you do to ensure you not only survive, but thrive, the next day? I’d love to hear what works for you.