But not every box session is fun and easy. There are days when we feel drained, tired and simply not in the right mood. When this starts to happen on regular basis, do a quick check up to your overall approach: do you sleep enough? Do you eat enough? Do you define priorities and set boundaries?
Beside training, here are three things elite athletes do every day.
1. They get enough sleep
Based on the scientific data 8 hours per night is the ultimate time period adults should obtain to prevent numerous side effects sleep deprivation has on physiological and cognitive functions. Lack of it (less than 6 hours per night) may influence learning, memory, cognition, pain perception, immunity and inflammation. Chronic deprivation is even considered to effect carbohydrate metabolism, appetite, food intake and protein synthesis. Furthermore studies between adolescents predicted that chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sport injuries.
In general, sleep is crucial to maintain overall health – a virtue every successful athlete need to perform to its maximum capacity.
2. They eat sufficient
For elite athletes food is fuel for performance. Their engines don’t run on empty. Most of the Crossfitters are too focued on what to eat, instead of eating enough and taking care of the simple basis: energy intake. To optimize your training and recovery start with the first stage of keeping your nutrition right: ensure you consume enough calories to replenish the calorie expenditure you obtain during and after your workout. Yes, prolong energy deficit (not consuming enough calories) leads to weightloss, but can also affect muscle mass loss, illness, overtraining and reductions in performance.
Think of it: research suggest that athletes who are involved in moderate intense training (2-3 hours per day, 5-6 days per week) may need from 2,500 to even 8000 kcal per day (for a 50 – 100 kg athlete).
Did you know that a cyclist at the Tour de France may need up to 12,000 kcal per day.
If you feel drained the day after, evaluate your nutrition approach. The cause of your exhaustion could be the insufficient energy (caloric) intake. Above that, make sure the ratio of your macronutrients fits to your individual needs.
3. They define priorities and set boundaries
Elite athletes set priorities: what will matter most (in the preparation phase) to accomplish the competitive goals they committed themselves to. At the same time they set boundaries to ensure they make time to get things done.
Most of the (Regionals and Open level) Crossfit athletes are still full-time employees with families to take care of. Focusing solely on athletic performance is impossible. Family and work come first and training, well for many it comes second.
How will you invest the free time is up to you, but to get your athletic performance up and running, you’ll need to define priorities and set boundaries for yourself as well as your friends. Socializing will move from pub to the box and friendly chatting will be exchanged for quiet focus on your workout. You will leave your friends wondering what is going on and why suddenly you seem to be obsessed with food, health and training.
If you define training for the Regionals as a priority, then commit to it. Respect the plan and the work of your coach, show up daily, don’t be late, stay consistent and grind through even when WODs don’t go your way. Because while you are hanging onto your excuses, your competitors are putting in all the effort to make their Crossfit goals a reality.
1. Sleep in elite athletes and nutritional interventions to enhance sleep, Halson SL., Sports Med. 2014 May.
2. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes, Milewski MD1, Skaggs DL, Bishop GA, Pace JL, Ibrahim DA, Wren TA, Barzdukas A., J Pediatr Orthop. 2014 March.
3. ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations, J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010.