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WODkilla. So you want to compete? Here’s what you need to know.

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This goes out to anyone who has ever considered participating in a CrossFit competition. I’m talking to the average CrossFitter. You’re in the Box three times a week. You train despite a busy schedule. You might have started CrossFit to get in shape and see what the hype was about. But slowly the lifestyle started to seep into other areas of your life.

You make better food choices and incorporate healthier activities into your lifestyle; your Facebook feed is flooded with news from your Box and about the CrossFit games. You think twice before missing a class. In fact, you feel a little guilty, sometimes even sad, when you can’t make it to class. I’m talking to YOU WODkilla!

Another CrossFit competition is on the calendar—should you or shouldn’t you? Absolutely, you should! I’m speaking from a non­RX point of view, someone who will never find herself as a contender for the Games. I’ve participated in four competitions in the last year and a half. I’m a 41­year old working mother of two who attends class three times a week if I’m lucky. I’ll RX once in a while, but I still haven’t achieved my pull­ups! And I have no regrets about competing.

Why compete, you ask? Competition forces you to get outside of your comfort zone and helps you to work through plateaus. Preparing for competition guides you in setting and achieving new goals. Competition allows you to measure how you fair against people you wouldn’t normally train with. It’s likely that the adrenaline rush from the competition will bring you a PR somewhere throughout the day. It challenges your physical strength, but more importantly, it builds your mental strength.Participating in competition also builds camaraderie as your Box mates cheer for you, and you do the same for them. So you’ve decided to do it. Great! Here are some tips to prepare you.

1. Most competitions release the standards for the divisions (RX, scaled, Masters) before registration. Read them carefully and sign up for the division most appropriate for you. Challenge yourself. If you struggle with one or two of the standards, don’t get discouraged. Spend the next few months working towards achieving them.

2. Once the WODs are posted, read them fully. Ask questions, attend briefings, and watch videos. Do everything you can to understand what is expected and allowed.

3. Understand the scoring system. To my knowledge, there’s no standard scoring system for competition, and not all competitions post their method. Ask if you don’t know. Also, check your scores after you compete to be sure they’re correct

4.Now that you know what skills will be included, practice.

5.Get a game plan. Think through the WODs. How will you maximize your strengths to make up for your weaknesses?

6. Rest. I usually take two to three days off before a competition, partly because I’m an older athlete. Taking the time off means I won’t be achy and leaves me hungry to get out there and work.

7. Eat healthy in the days leading up to the competition and get a good night’s sleep. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

8. Load up on positivity! I watch inspirational videos on YouTube, stock my iPod with energizing songs, and arm myself with some motivational sayings to empower me through the day.

9. Bring a chair, water, high energy, recovery snacks, an iPod, extra clothes, a jump rope, practice equipment, and money so that you can try out the Paleo food and shop for some new gear. If the event is outside, bring sunglasses, a 10 x 10 pop­up tent for shade, and some sun block.

10. Arrive on­site early to avoid feeling rushed; check out the stations and take time to warm up.

11. Designate someone to capture your experience on camera. You’ll want to see your joy after achieving a PR.

12. 3­2­1 GO: Pace yourself. There’s a long road ahead.

13. Focus on form. Don’t waste precious time and energy on a “no rep.”

14. Your competition is YOU! Don’t distract yourself by looking at your competitors during the WODs. Pay attention to you and only you.

15. Focus on your coach’s tips. He’s the expert. Pay attention to his coaching while competing, and don’t forget to thank him when all is said and done.

16. Leave all that you have on the competition floor. Don’t let a setback dictate the rest of your competition. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged, just keep moving.

17. Be proud of yourself! You’re a winner for stepping onto the competition floor!

18. Have fun!

19. Competitions are social! Spend the day cheering on your teammates, getting to know your Box mates, and meeting CrossFitters from other Boxes.

20. Get back to your Box and train! You achieved some PRs? Awesome! Now it’s time to set the bar higher. Were you disappointed with your performance? That’s okay. Set goals to help overcome the challenges you faced. You’ll only come back stronger next time around.

Happy competing!

Jennifer Stewart credits CrossFit as playing an important role in the success of her Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions. www.jiujitsufamily.com

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