After the thrill is gone….
3 .. 2 .. 1 .. STOP! You’ve just completed your last rep and you’re spread eagle on the floor. The CrossFit Games Open 2013 is done, or you’ve just finished your first marathon, triathlon or ski race. You’re glad that it’s over but disappointed with your result. You have this bottomless pit in your stomach along with mixed feelings of relief and self pity. Although you are happy for the people who have succeeded, you cannot help but ask “why them and not me?”
After a day or two, you start to assess what went wrong. Maybe you should have done things differently, and there were variables – like judging – that were out of your control. Your preparation was affected by an injury, the flu, the lack of the correct equipment or your stupid day job (you are, after all, a high class athlete or that’s what you are being told).
What now? There must be another competition that you can enter to prove that you are better! There is no lack of another throw-down, a muddy race, or a inter-club competition so you enter that. You give it your all but again you don’t meet your expectations and this time it was definitely the weather. So you enter the next competition …
I see this over and over again (thank you Facebook for highlights on all the competitions and events going on). People are told they are athletes and that competition is good for them. As always, context matters. The first thing I tell my clients after a competition is to take a week off of training – this is the bare minimum. This means absolutely no training – stay out of the gym! This is the time to broaden your horizon and find out what your goals are and spend some time in your happy place, preferably with your friends and family. Have a massage or see a movie but no training! After you have taken your week off it is officially post competition season. It is all about improving your skill – this is the time to get a competent coach.
The top contenders of your chosen sport have a track record of competing all through high school and college. This deep background history amounts to more than their current form of training and it is why they are succeeding. When you compete, it’s all about the base you’ve built throughout your life. The difference between a professional and a weekend athlete is what they do come Monday morning – the one stays on location and works on improving their skills, while the other takes out the trash and commutes to work.
So, let’s get down to what I think you should be doing:
Back to basics.
If you don’t know whether or not your basic movements are correct, then it is time to find a sharp coach to assess them for you. Once you know what to work on regarding your movement quality, it is time to increase your exposure to improved motor patterns so that your central nervous system, connective tissue and muscles can adapt.
Ever seen a person who is ridiculously strong and can muscle through almost anything? Not only do you want to be that strong person but you also want to have perfect technique. There’s nothing that enhances your physical make-up more than being strong.
Recover your adrenals.
By this time, your adrenals may be pretty exhausted, so it’s time to address that. Step one is to get an adrenal stress panel test to see where you are. Depending on the outcome, you might have to adjust your life-style accordingly – meaning less high intensity workouts and more recovery work (e.g. finding internal silence, going for long walks, play with your children, etc.).
Pay attention to your body’s feed-back. The best way to track yourself is with an HRV monitor. Using this, you can easily test whether your body can handle more adaptive stress on a day-to-day basis or whether you need to wait for your body to recover.
In conclusion, during the post competition season you need to focus on recovery and skill work. Training harder and continuing to push yourself in one competition after another may have a negative effect on your health and erode your ability to reach your potential. That being said, if you continue on this path, the result will not change. After all, this would be insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein). Although we are all a bit crazy, we’re not insane.
Roland is a strength and conditioning coach that works out of Cape Town, South Africa. He also runs the web-design and -development company Top-Node IT.
NEN ( No Equipment Needed) Workout:
*10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Burpees, alternating with: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Sit ups ~GO!
*Please warm up appropriately.