Congratulations!!! You've made it to Regionals, an amazing accomplishment that so very few will get to experience. This achievement is the result of countless hours in and out of the gym, and five very impressive performances in the Crossfit Open. What's coming next though is an entirely different beast and you need to be prepared for it. If this is a repeat trip to Regionals for you, then you'll know that sleeping and eating are going to be very, very different for those three days and nights so you better have a plan. You don't want to let poor nutrition and sleep screw up 12+ months of hard work.
Here are our recommendations
Day -5 to -1
Most athletes will be in some form of a deload heading into Regionals allowing for a fresh body and mind. During this time period, there may be a desire to seriously cut back on your carbohydrate intake over the full week. RESIST this urge. The first few days you need to keep the macros more or less the same to make sure your recovery does not suffer and that sleep stays steady. By Wednesday, we're basically into the phase where what we eat will influence the state of our glycogen stores for Friday already, as full digestion/absorption is about a 36-48 hour process. Moral of the story, stay more or less on the same plan with your plan and don't make major cuts of any kind.
A few additional quick thoughts:
- Food quality needs to stay on point as well. This is not the week for donuts and pizza shoved into your macros.
- Make sure food is well cooked. You don't want to catch even a small bout of food poisoning right now. Sushi can wait until next week.
- Hydrate well and make sure you work electrolytes into the middle part of your week. Think Pedialyte, The Right Stuff, NUUN, etc...
- Make sure you set yourself up each night for a good nights sleep. The further into the week we go, the harder this will likely be so have plan. Check out our Power Down Routine if you haven't already for the basics.
- Make sure you've got all your food and supplements ready for the weekend by Wednesday at the latest.
DAY 1 of COMPETITION
This should go without saying, but its so damn important that I'm going to put it in big freaking bolded letters
NEVER TRY ANYTHING FOR THE FIRST TIME ON GAME DAY
This is not the time to swing through vendor village and pick up a sample of pre-workout that you've never taken before Event 1. Also... if you don't normally drink coffee, don't do it now unless you want your heart to explode on double under 187 (see what I did there??).
Fun fact, stress slows down the digestion process. Think you might have some butterflies on Friday morning??? Yea, I thought so. Lets make sure we get breakfast taken care of way before we start working out. 2.5-3 hours before your warming up for Event 1, eat about 600-700 calories for the women and 800-1000 for the men. This gives you enough time to get most of the digestion done and out of the way. Keep things pretty low in fat here as well just to keep digestion nice and speedy.
AMENDMENT: Several people asked what to do if you eat breakfast rather early in the day (say 8 AM) and then have a LONG time until workout one, as the women may not be going until as late at 1 PM. In that situation, we would recommend adding up to a 400 (women) or 600 (men) snack about 2 hours out. So depending upon your heat time, that could be around 11:00 AM. Once again, keep it pretty low in fat and easy to digest.
Reality check: There are a TON of variables that confound how much food you should be putting down, whether you need a late morning at all, what that snack should look like, etc. This is why people work with coaches. We plan to be answering questions ALL weekend for our 50+ Regionals athletes. As Mike Tyson once said, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
Most of you out there don't do a good enough job with your warm ups while in the gym on a random Tuesday, but now we're at Regionals and you've decided that you're going to be the warm up king and get on the bike for 30 minutes, aggressively mobilize for another 20, and then start movement specific prep.
You need to have something sweet to just sip (not chug) through this process. There's a very cool set of studies that shows that glucose mouth washes (meaning you don't even have to swallow) can seriously improve athletic performance. So lets use that information to maximize performance here.
Finally, follow your typical pre workout routine from 30 minutes out. If thats BCAAs/EAAs + supplement XYZ, then stick to those here as well. Nothing new and fancy...
POST WORKOUT 1 / PRE WORKOUT 2
Now the Triple 3's is pretty beastie and you're most likely going to be doing some serious work for about 40-50 minutes at moderate to high intensity. Our goal for the day is to make sure you're recovering well after each workout, so coming out of this event I'd recommend 25 (women) to 35 (men) grams of protein and 75 grams (women) and 100 grams (men) of carbs. To be clear, that is still not enough to replace the energy you've just burned out there, but it will tell your brain that fuel is coming and to not stress so much. Follow that shake up 30 minutes later with something like a FFF or SmashPack, or even just a GreaterThan, Gatorade, Juice, etc.
We typically have about 2 hours between events at Regionals so you really don't have time for much solid foods here in your post workout phase which is why its key that the fueling options be easy to digest and absorb. Protein and carbohydrate powders are your best option as very minimal digestion is required.
If you insist on using real foods, make sure that its 1) hyper palatable as your appetite for things like chicken and sweet potato is going to suck, and 2) chew the shit out of the food so that your stomach doesn't have to digest it for even longer.
In reality, this time period is also your pre workout window for Workout 2 as well. So try and make sure that you're done with all foods (even the mashed up, squeeze bag king) 1 hour prior to the next workout.
From 60 to 15 minutes out from workout 2, just keep focused on staying warm and sipping on more sweet beverages based on thirst. I do not think you need another big hit of pre workout supplements, but if its your usual routine, then stick with it here as well.
POST WORKOUT 2
This event will be somewhere in the 15+ minute range for almost all athletes, with a huge CNS demand from the 55 DL, bench press and cleans. As soon as you're off the floor, I would have one more protein and carb shake with 20/25 grams protein (women/men) and 50/60 grams carbs (women/men). An hour after that, have a real meal with plenty of protein, fat and carbs. This is essentially lunch.
For the rest of the day, you're going to need to continue to eat some real food, and almost certainly exceed your normal macros by 20% to attempt to recover for day 2. Higher fat foods can help central nervous system recovery, so don't be afraid of those at all. Again... this is a fitness competition and not a body building show so EAT... you need it.
Before bed, if you're still wired from the day, try taking a shower where the last 60 seconds are pretty cold. From there get right into bed and turn the lights off. Keep the hotel room pretty cool at 65F or so, as this has been shown to be about the optimal temperature for sleep. Also you might want to bring some kind of white noise machine with you if you're used to using one.
ONE FINAL RULE: No going to bed hungry... period.
DAY 2 and 3 of COMPETITION
Nothing too drastic is going to change headed into Days 2 and 3 for your breakfast, pre workout routines and dinner, but there are some considerations that we want to take into account for recovery for workouts 3 through 6
- Workouts 3 and 4 are in the 6-13 minute range, so you might not think you need much fuel to recover from them, but don't forget the intensity of the events is greater than almost anything you've experienced. Aim for 20-25 grams of protein and 50-60 grams of carbs after each event.
- Workout 5 is absolutely brutal with the box step overs, biking and lunges. Again, 20-25 grams of protein and then 60-70 grams of carbs are recommended after this event heading into the final.
- Workout 6 is ALWAYS a burner at the end of a long weekend. Those that succeed here will have put the right focus into their fueling and recovery over the whole weekend. Get warm, have a few sips of carbs and then be prepared to leave it all on the floor with everything you've got.
Post workout from Event 6 and onwards..
Whether you finish in 1st or 40th, don't track a damn thing for the rest of the day. Go enjoy a nice dinner with your friends and family. If you're heart broken, lean on them and remember that they love you for who you are, not what happens on that arena floor. The same goes for your nutrition coach :)
Over the next couple of weeks, take an actual break from the gym and from your nutritional program. Eat well, enjoy some complex meals that are damn near impossible to track, have a few things that you normally would avoid, and sleep... sleep so much that people start to ask where you've been.
Back when I was competing in 2009-2011, a very smart coach told me not to start back in the gym until you had the Three H's going on in your life; Happy, Hungry and Horny. Once you're feeling those emotions, you can start thinking about 2019. Everyone is unique and their recovery from major competitions will be as well. Don't worry about what others are doing, just listen to your body.
A Final Thought
At the 2017 Atlantic Regional, I worked in the athlete area with Mekenzie Riley before and after each event on her nutrition while her Misfit coaches took care of the warm ups and cool downs. She didn't always want to drink the protein and carb shakes, the GreaterThans, etc... but she did it anyway. Kenz entered the final day needing to do some work on the leaderboard to punch her ticket to Madison. She finished with a 4th and a 1st place finish to put herself on the podium. Watch this and tell me if she looks like its Day 3 of the biggest competition of her life. I
Carly Fuhrer had another very educational experience. On Day 1, nerves were high and eating was tough. She had enough energy stores to do extremely well on the first two events, but Day 2 was a struggle and left her in a hole. We chatted and even though it was the last thing she wanted to do, she ate and drank a good amount of food (mostly PB &J sandwiches, right Carly???) that night to try and get some energy back. On day 3, she absolutely crushed the workouts and made up a massive amount of ground to qualify for the Games. Her final event was one of the guttsiest things I've ever seen in this sport. The fact is that she was able to go to that dark place because of the effort she put in the day before and after Event 5.
You will likely not be excited about eating if your nerves are high, but you have to make it happen. Its a long weekend and if you don't put the effort in, your performance will drastically suffer on Days 2 and 3. Its not too late to make smart changes that can influence your short term goals over these next three weekends. If you need some help, shoot us a message here.