Author Colette Casey
Athlete & Coach
Get to know more about Coach Colette and her experience, not only as a highly competitive athlete but also as a coach
Highway to the Danger Zone.
Some people wait until the first workout where things didn’t go the way they wanted to in order to change something. We are getting a jump start on that for everyone and hitting you with some essentials over the next couple of weeks in order to thrive and not look back and say… “I wish I would have.” The reason behind writing this is honestly learning from my own mistakes over the last 10 years of doing open and online qualifications and wanting to help people that may be doing this for the first time, or really for anyone trying to navigate this process solo. We want you to be able to maximize your score, sanity, and be able to feel fully supported as you kick off your 2023 open season.
Know when to hold them. Know when to fold them.
TEST YOUR SETS.
One thing is inevitable, we will see multiple pieces with gymnastics in the open and quarterfinals. Knowing your max effort unbroken gymnastics sets is a prerogative in order to know where you stand with your gymnastics fresh… so that you know how to implement them when fatigued.
How can you create a game plan if you don’t know where you stand? To create a successful foundation, know where your point of failure is… while it may seem counterproductive, “Colette, you’re telling me you want me to fail!!!???” Well, yes. Find out your max effort unbroken set of all gymnastic numbers as soon as possible. If there is one bit of advice I can give you it is that. Let’s play this out. I want to know my toes to bar capacity by itself, so then I can create a game plan for an open/quarters workout based on this number when combined with other movements and intensities. For example: My max set of toes to bar is 30 reps, Chest to bar 20 reps, Bar Muscle Ups 10 reps. Now let’s take that information and use it in the previous open workout 21.3. In this workout there are 30 toes to bar, 30 chest to bar, and 30 bar muscle ups. The skills are getting harder and more demanding as you get more fatigued. I have 30 unbroken toes to bar so I should go unbroken on the first set right? NO! Take a break, literally. A smart game plan would be 12-10-8 with about 5 seconds of rest in between each one. Moving on to the chest to bar game plan which I would hit 8-7-6-5-4 with 3-5 seconds in between. Finally, we get to our highest skilled movement, bar muscle ups. At this point you are most fatigued and need to be smart and move quickly doing 4’s, 3’s, 2’s with minimal rest in between. Having a game plan in place doesn't mean you need to 100% follow it, but what it means is that it helps to hold you accountable to your relative skill, instead of your emotion and adrenaline (aka doing 30 Toes to Bar unbroken when that is your max set).
Besides gymnastics, I suggest testing out these max effort set items: double-unders, wall balls, both 30/50 cal row for time, 1 min max effort bar facing burpees, and finally 1 min max effort wall walks. Knowing this information prior to the open will help you think about how you approach workouts in order to be authentically you, instead of getting caught up in “this is what this person did,” or “Ricky Garard went unbroken.” Getting caught up with others can leave you in the dust.
Fail to plan or plan to fail.
There is a reason teams in the NFL, WPSL, and MLB do mock training sessions that mirror what they will experience come game time. For professional athletes, practicing set pieces, point down situations, and speed of play all tie into creating game-like situations that they will inevitably see so when there is a moment of fight or flight, they are ready. CrossFit is no different. We should feel like a session has value if we create a “live” feel to it, so come workout time, we feel 100% no matter what we face. What does this look like and encompass?
1. Warmups set the tone for mental, emotional, and physical preparation. Long gone are the days where you load up your bar, touch your toes, and hit some arm circles. Having a complete warm up means you are preparing your body for the ultimate exertion and potentially taking it somewhere it has never been before… so you kind of need to give it a head up, right? If warming up is a hard thing for you to do, practice it! This may sound silly, but having a good warmup routine is pivotal in setting confidence going into the workout. It’s where you visualize what you need and execute small pieces of the big picture which you are going to tackle in the workout. For longer workouts a shorter flow warmup is good, while shorter workouts tend to need a longer more exhaustive warmup in order to make sure your body is ready to hit the gas and stay on it. Suggested flow:
a. General movement based,
c. Specific warm up with workout movements in it.
d. Primer (1-2 rounds of a combination of what you’ll see in the workout at less reps in order to feel the flow and game time speed you plan to go at).
2. Test previous workouts as if they are the real thing. Use the month of January and February to test out 1-2 open workouts that maybe give you an opportunity to test out your max set game-plan or maybe a kind of metcon that you have struggled with before (for example, “AMRAPS” for whatever reason are harder for me to do better in versus FOR TIME, so practicing them and having a goal pace and flow that I execute is helpful before competition time).
3. Lights, camera, action. Film this workout, mark out lines, measure setup, and ensure all your standards are met.
4. Find your “dream team.” Nothing gives me more anxiety than being a videographer, judge, and feng shui master with setup, all while trying to focus on what I need to give my max effort to a workout. So what did I do? I asked for help from people I trust. Ask for help in advance to create your crew who will help you JUST have to be an athlete on game day.
5. Practice the “small things.”What are the smallest things you can adjust in order to make the biggest impact this year? There is a generic list that gets exhausted by every health fad this time of year, so I will keep it short, but sleep, nutrition including hydration, and eliminating alcohol are some easy ones right off the bat. What does this look like? It looks like cutting down on t.v. (night night Netflix - get one extra hour of sleep, you won’t miss that episode of selling sunset), including more color into your meals (handful of spinach with your eggs, five strawberries… you can do it!), and drinking soda water, kombucha, or your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. All these should be home runs because of how simple they are.
6. GEAR GODS! Make sure all your gear is good to go. Belt, knee sleeves, grips, wrist wraps, rope, the whole wardrobe. Word to the wise, if you haven’t used something all year, now isn't the time to start doing this, for example: if you never use lifters for pistols but get a little nervous and want to throw them on, don’t let the stress get to you… you're better than that. Stay true to how you have been training.
Where’s your head at?
Finally, make sure expectations are aligned with your reality. The same goals you started out with in 2022 may have slightly morphed in 2023, so maybe you need to adjust your sails slightly. Maybe there was a new job with schedule restraints, maybe your hearts and desires are somewhere else, or maybe it’s the opposite, you weren’t thinking much of anything in 2022 but more recently have been fired up and putting the work in. It’s time to have a mental oil check to see where you are at. Some questions to answer to clarify your path before you throw down:
1. Why am I doing this?
2. What is my motivation when things get hard?
3. How will I define my success this season ?
(please don’t base this off placing or a time in a workout, dig deeper). There is nothing worse than doing something with misaligned goals. It’s like trying to put a puzzle together with all the wrong pieces.
You want to be authentic in your expectation. If you train hard 3-4 days a week, your reason for competing is so you can be a better human being, and you define success as keeping your mental self talk in check for all the workouts… I will take that person any day of the week versus someone who wants to go to the games yet hasn’t been putting in the work in and then beats themself up each workout because they fell short. That just tells me that they don’t know who they are. This is all meant to show you who you are and what you’re made of as a human being and competitor. Embrace that because it is such a gift! So lace up those shoes, put your hype song on, and get ready to crush some awesome workouts!