Crossfit Recovery: That big competition you’ve been training for months for is fast approaching, when, just days before you start feeling a bit off colour. Its nerves, right? Wrong. Sickness has taken hold and the future of you competing hangs in the balance. Every athlete has been there. And every single one will tell you the same thing – it sucks.
‘It is heart breaking to be ill before any important event or competition, but none more so than the Open.’
Right now, Crossfitters all over the globe have been working for months (or years, even) in preparation with the hope of qualifying for Regionals. Now, more than ever, is not the time to be sick if you’re a Crossfit athlete.
GETTING SICK RIGHT BEFORE THE OPEN!
But that’s exactly what happened to Crossfit Bath athlete and Coach Laura Faulkner this year. Diagnosed with flu three weeks before the Open was due to start, one of the UK’s biggest Crossfit talents had to come to terms with the painful realisation that she may not be well enough to compete.
‘I honestly couldn’t believe it’ Laura says. ‘A whole year of training – well actually four years! – ready for what should’ve been my best year yet, and then this. But shit happens and it’s something I have no control over.”
Shit does, indeed, happen. But the resilient bundle of muscle is not letting it get her down. Still recovering:
- Laura emptied her tank to get in a score in for 16.1
- she then moved up a whopping 70 places after her performance in 16.2 to sit 65th place overall.
- Going from strength to strength, Laura climbed another 25 places after 16.3
- After just completing 16.4, she’s moved up another 11 places to sit in 38th place.
‘One last push to the end now!’ she says. ‘I never thought five weeks ago when I was in such an ill state that I’d be able to even do the workouts, let alone climb the leaderboard every week.’
TIPS TO AID CROSSFIT RECOVERY
Question is, how, after being sick for over four weeks in the run up, has Laura prepped for the Open? And in what ways, if any, can you counteract such a huge setback as illness?
‘Protocols to Crossfit recovery should always be based on athletes as individuals and how they feel,’ says Laura’s coach and co-owner at Crossfit Bath Ollie Mansbridge.
‘There are principles based on science and life coaching elements that we, as coaches, can fall back on. But ultimately you have to treat every athlete individually based on how they feel.’
So, while there’s no miracle cure to get you healthy again quickly (sorry!), there are a number of methods you can apply to aid your recovery from sickness. Here, Laura and Ollie reveal some ways to help get you fighting fit again.
1 LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
The athlete in you will be summoning every ounce of energy to get your ass out of bed as soon as you feel remotely human again. But don’t run before you can walk. As frustrating as it is, Crossfit recovery takes time and jumping in too soon could do more damage than good. “Don’t try to train through illness – this will only make you worse”, Ollie advises.
2 EAT PLENTY
While the last thing you might feel like doing when ill is eating, just as when you’re training, it’s important to fuel your body in its recovery. And listening to your body as to what and when is vital.
‘My diet changed a lot, which was mainly dependent on how I was feeling,’ Laura comments. ‘I lived off pitta bread and jam, and lemonade – obviously not what I would recommend to anyone but at this point it was all I wanted to provide me with some form on energy. I tried to eat at least one ‘normal’ meal a day this would usually be dinner but it was often a struggle. Any form of food and energy was good to be honest – whatever you can get down!’
3 STAY HYDRATED
Keeping fluid levels up is also paramount. ‘With crossfit recovery, it’s important to stay hydrated and that doesn’t mean just water,’ Ollie says. ‘If we just drink water, we flush a lot of our natural electrolytes from the body. Adding electrolytes to your water will help balance your PH in the blood, improve muscle function and generally increase your chances of getting better.’
While your body might not be working how you want it to, it’s important not to let your mind slip too. A positive mind-set can work wonders for recovery, so even if it’s all you can do just to lie in bed all day, try some meditation to help keep calm and stress levels to a minimum.
‘I listened to music, especially when I was in a lot of pain, as it helped regulate my breathing and stay calm,’ Laura comments. ‘This helped massively and got me off to sleep when I thought that was impossible.’
5 SET YOURSELF GOALS – AND STICK TO THEM!
Just because you can’t get to the box and train doesn’t mean that your approach to goal setting should change. ‘I’ve been writing down my daily thoughts along with goals,’ Laura says. ‘Even if the goal was simply to make it down the road and back for a walk to get some fresh air. It makes you feel like you have achieved something and that, in turn, makes you feel better about your Crossfit recovery.’
6 SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE
Ok, so if you’re coughing your guts up, look a bit green under the gills and have insane mood swings, its likely most people will steer clear of you for a while anyway.
- The main point here to remember is to avoid your paranoid friend who’s obsessed with Googling your symptoms at all costs!
- Instead, surround yourself with the people you can appreciate and draw positivity from.
For Laura, one of those people was her boyfriend and fellow Crossfit Bath athlete Alec Harwood. ‘Alec has been great, so patient and has been so supportive throughout,’ she says. ‘He has the same goal as me so he really understands how important it is and can appreciate how fragile a subject it is.’
7 TRY SOME LIGHT MOBILITY EXERCISES
Every athlete is individual and doing anything physical when ill should be determined on how that individual feels. But, if you do feel up to a little exercise on your road to recovery, some light mobility is a great place to start. Pick mobility routines that you can do from the comfort of your own home. You can also take it as a good opportunity to have a change of scenery from the box.
‘Once you’re over the worst of it, try to move a little in order to flush blood and lymph around the body and aid recovery,’ Ollie advises. ‘Easy aerobic work like bike/Assault bike or even better, just walking.’
It’s so obvious that it should really go without saying. However, you’d be surprised by the amount of athletes who don’t take enough rest when ill and rush back into training. Adopting a sensible, paced approach is the key.
‘Once you’re feeling better, don’t go back into your usual training,’ Laura advises. ‘Give yourself a few days on light exercises – not too much pressure on your heart rate. Recover well, get enough food and sleep afterwards as your body is most likely still repairing.’
9 KEEP IN REGULAR CONTACT WITH YOUR COACH
One of the best sources of support during a time like this is your coach. Knowing how hard you’ve worked, he or she will be just as heartbroken as you and therefore sympathetic to your cause, very supportive and pro-active about your recovery.
‘Ollie has kept in contact with me to try and gauge what I can do, as well as programming for me accordingly on a day-by-day basis,’ Laura says. ‘He’s also really helped me stay positive and keep my eyes on my Crossfit recovery goal.’
10 KEEP EVERYTHING IN PERSPECTIVE
As infuriating as it is, these things can happen to any one of us, regardless of our best laid preparations. It is important to remember this, try and have a sense of humour about it, and make the distinction between the things in life that we can change, and the things that we cannot. Having a sense of perspective often shows maturity, and will help along the road to Crossfit recovery.
Laura Faulker standing image © My Protein
Laura Faulkner instagram images & media © Laura Faulkner
Glass of water image © E-health101