Things Every Beginner Should Know
We are going to make the assumption that since you are now CrossFitting, you have done things in the proper order. You have joined a reputable box. You have a qualified and attentive coach. You have gone through the basic training, or “on-ramp” programming. So now that you are well on your way, here are a few additional things you should definitely know.
Get Good Shoes
Your regular sneakers are not up to the task. They are designed for activities from which your foot needs to be cushioned, not activities where your foot needs to be flexible. The soles are squishy and soft, and they weigh more than you might imagine. To CrossFit, you foot needs to be agile, not necessarily coddled in the common athletic sense. You will go from flexed toes (burpees, pushups, bear crawls) to jumping or running in a flash. The thick sole of a traditional running shoe does not allow you to do this as easily as a low-profile, or light weight sole will.
Invest in a pair of shoes specifically designed for the demands of your sport. Reebok, Innov8 and Nike all make CrossFit shoes. Additionally, you may want to consider picking up a pair of weight-lifting shoes which have a super hard, angled sole that keeps your feet in place and your ankles aligned. The downside to this is that you will have to stop and change your shoes mid-WOD, or commit to doing it all in the clunkers. My advice is to choose the multi-purpose shoes and keep a pair of lifters for lifting WODs only.
You will be hungrier than you can ever imagine.
You are going to be hungry. Bear before hibernation hungry. Saber-tooth tiger hungry. Hungry enough to knock down a little old lady standing between you and the bacon. I’m not kidding. A CrossFit WOD can burn up to 1000 calories, and you will continue to burn calories as you travel through the day. So, for the love of God, eat. This is not the time to fast, or go vegan, or to count your calories in any way. Eat. You will need to put calories in your body immediately after your WOD, notably in the form of protein, carbs and sugar. Don’t mess around with this. Bring a reputable protein shake and get it in you while you are still sweaty and shaking.
It’ll help tide you over until you get to your meal. Which brings me to my next point….
CrossFit and Paleo are NOT synonymous.
You don’t have to do it if it doesn’t work for you. Many CrossFit athletes choose to go Paleo because they believe that it helps them with their training. And it does. I have found that on the mornings after I ate pasta or breads for dinner that my performance in the WOD pretty much sucked. Conversely, when I was properly fueled on proteins and natural carbs (sweet potatoes, avocados, etc) that my performance was much smoother. Glutens do put a lot of stress on your digestive systems and your joints. I found that rice did not create this problem.
On the flipside, you will have to choose how much your sport takes over your life. There are many wonderful things out there in the world of cuisine that will not make your CrossFitting any easier. But neither will they tank the process. If you want the killer bod at 6% body fat, then you should consider Paleo. If you just love the workout and the camaraderie, and don’t care about a little “fluff”, do what you want. It’s not going to kill you, or your CrossFit career.
Don’t forget to have fun, listen to your body and breathe.
It is easy to ignore the warning signs when you are mid-WOD, pushing hard to perform well against your teammates. Nobody wants to be the last finished, or the one who has to opt out halfway through. And there is a growing culture out there that manages to denegrate (in an oddly ‘uplifting’ fashion) those who don’t push through suffering to achieve some sort of nebulous “growth”. But the truth is that you can really hurt yourself if you ignore the signs of trouble.
If you can’t breathe, you should slow down and take a big breath. Even if it costs you time. This type of oxygen-reprieve will allow you to connect back into your body and listen to what is really going on. If you feel any type of legitimate pain, STOP. Only idiots continue to finish a deadlift WOD with lower back pain, or jump on boxes with twisted ankles. And if you can’t smile or offer an encouraging word to the person next to you while your muscles are screaming, your chest is burning and you are wondering if you can manage that last wall-ball, then you are in the wrong place. This sport is as much about camaraderie as it is about achieving your personal best. So have fun with it.
Ok. So now you are really prepared to take on your new sport. Listen to your coach. Enjoy your box. And set out to craft the best you that you can be.