WRITTEN BY NATHALIE niddam | ACADEMY OF LIONS NUTRITIONIST | TORONTO
Last week marked the first week of the 2017 CrossFit Open - a time when CrossFit athletes from around the world get to measure themselves up against each other and themselves. PR’s, fueled by consistent training and adrenaline get hit every week as competitors push themselves to and often beyond their limits. Whether you are competing in the RX or scaled world you are pushing yourself hard every week. Other than prepping, we all know that recovery is the key to success. How you recover from each crushing workout will determine your performance the next week. Below are a few strategies, things you can do, things you can consume and others you can apply that may help you along.
You all know this but it bears repeating that getting good quality sleep will improve your performance, and your recovery. Save the celebration, if you can, for the end of the competition - stay focused and committed to your best for the month.
Hydration plays a huge role in athletic performance - a dehydrated athlete will see a significant reduction in performance - by some reports up to 30%. Chugging 3 litres of water the day of will not really do it. Be hydrated all the time especially the day before….it goes without saying that walking in hungover will not likely serve you.
Meditation will help your nervous system to recover. Really. Download an app like Headspace, calm.com or Omvana if you don’t already have a practice and commit to at least 10 minutes a day for the next month.
HRV or heart rate variability can go a long way to guiding you in managing your training volume on days between competitions. There are gizmos of course but just downloading the free HRV4Training is a great place to start. I have a lot to talk about in this post so will leave it to you to explore the app. Email me if you have questions and maybe I’ll dive a little deeper in my next post.
THE DAY AFTER
Nothing quite like a spectacular massage to help soothe sore muscles, work out some kinks and help move some of that lactic acid out into circulation to clear. Shout out to everyone’s favourite massage therapist at Academy of Lions Erin McCutcheon - if you haven’t been to see her before let this be the time - she is simply amazing and as an athlete herself knows exactly what works. You can reach her by email at email@example.com. Don’t wait too long she books up fast!!
Float therapy, on King Street West, a few minutes away from Academy of Lions is an incredible gift to your muscles (think Magnesium soak to soothe and relax muscles) and a gift to your wired up nervous system. Nothing like floating in a semi-conscious/meditative state to stimulate repair and recovery of all kinds. Just use the earplugs, take it from me, an earful of that water can be unpleasant and a pain to clear.
Cryotherapy: A bit more hardcore than the top two but gaining ground (apparently the Raptors invested in two of their own Cryotherapy chambers that get used by all) - you step into a chamber (open at the top, magnetic door so easy escape for people with claustrophobic tendencies) and the temperature gets dropped almost instantly to a number I won’t share with you... you’d find it shocking. Benefits: reduced inflammation, faster recovery and pain management. My favourite place is a bit out of the way (Dufferin & Finch) so you may want to go en masse and carpool, but Roman Gersh is incredibly knowledgeable and runs a great operation. He’s offering a special first time rate for anyone from Academy of Lions ($30 plus tax vs $60) plus 10% off any future sessions during the open. Book your treatment at cryotherapytoronto.com. Sessions last at most 3 min. so if you go as a group you won’t be hanging around too long waiting for each other.
Protein Shakes. I’m not normally a huge proponent of protein shakes, I prefer my clients to eat their protein but extreme conditions justify extreme measures. One of the best new products that has hit the market in the past year is a line by the name of PaleoEthics…even better they are Canadian. Their protein shakes are made from high quality Beef Serum and Beef Protein Isolate and not much else. They taste amazing and are super easy to mix in water or your favourite shake. Their product line includes Protein Peptides for recovery, a Recovery Matrix Tea, Super Greens Powder…a really top notch option that has filled a very much needed niche in the marketplace. They even have a vegan protein option for vegetarians although, full disclosure I have not tried it myself. They are aligning themselves strongly with the CrossFit community and currently have a promo for Open Athletes. Check them out: paleoethics.com.
Master Amino Acid Pattern (MAP). A highly bioavailable source of essential amino acids in the exact proportion required by the body so that 99% of it is used (vs at best 32% of your chicken breast). Originally developed for medical situations where patients could neither break down nor tolerate protein this is a great hack you can use pre or post workout (or both on competition day). Lots of great research behind this including one study where they showed that Tour de France competitions who used MAP during the race actually held onto and in some cases gained muscle mass whereas they generally end up consuming their own muscle by the end of the gruelling competition.
Where to Buy: I have some stock or most better health food stores will carry.
Exogenous Ketones. As many of you know I have been deep diving into all things Ketogenic for the past couple of years. While the Ketogenic Diet/Lifestyle is not necessarily the best option for Crossfit Athletes, there are products on the market that can deliver the benefits of ketones without having to restrict your diet. The best one in my opinion is KetoMax by Pruvit - it outperforms pretty much anything else available on the market and was developed specifically with athletes in mind. Ketones can be helpful for recovery, muscle repair, managing inflammation and for mental focus an often forgotten aspect of optimal athletic performance. Yes, Pruvit is a Network Marketing Company, I can’t tell you how much I sometimes wish it wasn’t but take my word for it, KetoMax is the real deal and worth a try. If you want to try it out, email me, I will send you a $10 coupon off your first order.
B VITAMINS. A good B complex will go a long way to supporting energy and helping your body deal with stress. My favourite formula these days is the B100BioMAX by Naka Pro - it combines high potency B’s with an adaptogenic herbal blend including Rhodiola and Ashwaghanda - great one stop solution. Where to get: I stock this one too but you can also find it in better health food stores.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids. You should be taking these anyway but if you don’t, start now. Find a brand you like - if you burp fishy burps it’s no good or try taking it with food. Short list of benefits: important to manage inflammation, support immunity, for your brain and nervous system. Don’t go cheap though, you get what you pay for and bad quality fats are as toxic as good quality are beneficial. Nutrasea is pretty good or shoot for one of the pro brands like Pure Encapsulations, Douglas Labs or Auum (Harp Seal source - this one you get from me).
Vitamin D3. Get your levels checked at least once a year. Everyone needs to keep an eye on levels and athletes are possibly at higher need. There’s some evidence that athletic performance and recovery may be impacted by Vitamin D3 levels. This is still an active area of study so I’m not going to make sweeping generalizations and I am not saying you should take D3 to improve your performance for 17.2 but rather that there’s evidence that a deficiency can be a factor in how well you perform and recover. Best way to find out how much you need is with a blood test and then you can figure out how much you need to supplement. Deficiency of this Vitamin is rampant in our climate and affects your overall health as well, it’s a good thing to stay on top of.
I could keep going, Bone Broth and Magnesium also deserve mentions but if you’ve even made it this far, you probably have enough to get you started. Beyond all this, listen to your body and try to keep moving even when you’re sore….do something different, a mobility class a yoga class, a long walk outside... all of these will help your body and nervous system recover a bit faster to get you back in the gym for your next big session.
Good luck to everyone for 17.2 and beyond! Go Crush it!