Life is full of big moments. Job interviews, proposals on paper and bended knee, the birth of your children, competitions, auditions, even just walking across the room to say hello at the right moment.
Sometimes we see them coming a mile away, sometimes we don’t see them in anything but hindsight. But what we can do, no matter the moment, is prepare for them.
You might think don’t I need to know the kind of moment to prepare? Not really, no. For all life’s big moments, there are only a few things you need to be: focused, calm, and present.
However, seeing we have two weeks until the start of The CrossFit Open, we figured it's never too late to do some research into how you can best prepare so that you can best enjoy the experience.
At the end of the day, whether or not you're aiming for a new ranking or competing for the very first time, coming out the other side having enjoyed the overall experience is what's really important.
Katie Warriner, a sports psychologist who guided British athletes through both the London and Rio Olympic Games, knows a thing or two about preparing for a big event. She's broken down the methods she uses to get HER athletes ready:
1. Break down your goal
A goal you can’t control sets you up for some element of failure. Warriner suggests breaking it down further. “If you go in with a goal that is not entirely in your control,” she says, “you’re more likely to be overly nervous or get more easily distracted. It’s crucial therefore to break your goal down into what you can control.” It’s within your control to put in your best effort. You can control how you train your body, how you train your mind, how you fuel, etc. Make those your goals.
So, in regards to the Open. Take each workout as it comes. Take each movement as it comes. Break down how you are going attack each set of reps, rest period and transition. Concern yourself more with attacking each broken down element how you aimed to, rather than focusing on an overall time. At the end, you will be able to look back and appreciate how you tackled the workout - physically and mentally - no matter where you finish.
2. Figure out your values
Warriner has seen that values can be massively performance enhancing, especially when those values are framed as actions too. “Instead of ‘courage’ we’d phrase it as ‘commit fully through the nerves’,” she says. Think about your values carefully when looking at your goal. Why is that your goal? Is it because you want to inspire people? To be admired? Those value-based goals can be achieved through more than just muscle gains and promotions.
Again, let's frame this in regards to the Open. WHY do you want to get THAT Snatch? WHY do you want to finish in a certain time? Are you proving something to yourself or trying to prove something to others. At the end of each workout, no matter where you place, you should be able to reflect and admire the way you trained if it was aligned with your underlying values.
3. Think it through
Warriner uses a tactic called “scenario planning” with both athletes and their coaches. In scenario planning, you’re asked to think of all the things that could throw you off your game, distract you, etc. Then, you walk through kinds of thoughts and feelings that could come up in that specific scenario. “I’m trying to help the athlete be more emotionally agile, to recognize that all sorts of thoughts and emotions will come up in this performance, and that’s OK,” said Warriner. She asks them to experience those emotions, rather than fight or fear them, so that they can then refocus on the job ahead.
Breaking down large goals into smaller process goals allows more room for forgiveness and learning. “No one is 100% on it 100% of the time. Open up to how you’re feeling,” Warriner suggests. “There might be some data in there, some information that you would do well to pay attention to.”
Again, attack each workout as it's own and acknowledge yourself after each. As the weeks go by, you'll be more fatigued, you'll face exercises you're less familiar with and you'll be more frustrated. Pick something to focus on each workout and do it the best you can.