So you’ve been doing CrossFit for a while. You’re good. Probably the best in your box. You’ve got all the movements. You’ve competed, maybe podiumed at some local competitions. But you want to take it to that next level. Podium at national competitions. Top 10 UK in the Open. Qualify for Sanctionals. But how do you go about it? Well, I’m going to try and give you some starting points on how to reach that elite level and maximise your potential.
Act like an Athlete
It sounds silly, but to become an elite athlete you have to consider yourself an elite athlete. Train like one, eat like one, go to bed every night at 9pm like one. Consistency is key to development and improvement, and only by having this mindset and structure will you be able to achieve this. Act like an athlete, and you become an athlete.
Find yourself a good Coach/Training Programme
What a good coach looks like is different for everyone. You need someone who is going to help you identify your weaknesses and work with you to improve them. Different coaches have different approaches and it is important to find someone whose programming works for you. This might be the coach at your local box who you’ve been working with for a while and knows you best, or it might be someone you work with remotely. If you do go down the remote programming route I think it’s important to meet your coach in person regularly, so they can see how you move, and pick up things that may not be identified in video or messages. When it comes to elite level competition and Sanctionals it is also important to have a coach who understands season planning and peaking for different types of competition.
Good nutrition is key. We’ve all seen the CrossFit pyramid; nutrition is the basis for performance. Calories, then macronutrients then micronutrients. Again, this looks different for different people; some track, some eat intuitively, some follow specific diets. Find what works for you and make sure you are fuelling yourself in the best possible way to achieve your goals. In the offseason/training phases its ok to be a little more lenient, but in the lead up to the Open and competition you must be strict if you want to reach your full potential. This also includes alcohol.
Time Management and Organisation
None of us has the luxury of being a full-time athlete. We have other jobs and commitments. Working as a Doctor I understand this more than most! I have found the most important way to be able to maintain consistency in training with a busy life is to be really organised. Have your gym bags packed and your food prepped the night before. Make sure you have everything with you so you can go straight from work to the gym. Plan your week ahead as to what days you’ll be able to do longer sessions, and where you might have difficulty fitting things in. Ask your coach for prioritisation of your training for the days where you think you might struggle with time.
Embrace the Suck
If you want to become an elite athlete, then the sport has to be your priority, and probably your obsession. You will have to make sacrifices at some point, and you will have to be selfish. Sometimes training will suck for a day, and sometimes training will suck every day for a week. You will feel like giving up, you will feel like you’re not getting any better, you will feel like everyone else can do more than you. For a lot of people, it’s not worth the struggle, which is completely understandable. That’s why there aren’t that many elite athletes out there. You have to be willing to embrace all the negative thoughts and turn them around into motivation to keep working and improving. You have to find enjoyment in this process. This ends up being the reward in itself, rather than a specific qualification or placing on the leader board.