Before you laugh and say something like, "yeah, I'm not exactly a professional athlete", the whole point of participating in a fitness competition is to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to do something you don't think you're capable of doing. Take it from me, a former overweight/obese girl-turned woman, who's only been in shape for the past 6 years. I NEVER thought I could compete at any level and have a chance to not embarrass myself or finish last. But thanks to my CrossFit journey, I'm in the best shape of my life (which still means I have a long way to go) and my competitive nature has been unleashed.
But even though it is a "competition" it's also a ton of fun. The energy at competitions is electric (to be cliche) and the people while your competitors, are also extremely supportive. No one wants to see anyone fail. And while, yes, they want to beat you, it's not about keeping you down, but rather pushing themselves harder.
So here are a few simple tips on competing, whatever your sport:
1) Check your ego and your shyness at the door: You can't worry about people watching you, because they will be (there's that whole judging thing). And you can't claim to be better than anyone (unless you win, and then, yes, brag away).
2) Do something you love or something at which you want to improve: It won't make sense to compete at something you don't know or enjoy doing, because then it will just be miserable for you. But if you are new to something and want to get better, it can only help to surround yourself with people who are better and share your passion.
3) Be prepared: This sounds obvious but you don't want to just show up without knowing what to expect. If you know what the challenges or tasks might be, practice beforehand, even if you go lighter. If you can't find out, talk to people who've done this competition before so they can give you a sense of how the day might play out. If all else fails, call the conference organizers and explain you're a newbie. I'm sure they'd be happy to tell you whatever they can about the event to ease your fears.
4) Fuel up: Don't use the competition as an excuse to go overboard, but you definitely want to make sure you eat a large and filling dinner and healthy breakfast before competing. And of course, bring food and lots of water for throughout the day. If you're doing something cardio-intensive carbs are always a good call but if there are weights or other endurance challenges you definitely want to ensure you get enough protein to keep your muscles working. After the competition is over, feel free to celebrate with something decadent - if that's your style. :)
5) Have fun!: Another obvious one, but in the heat of battle, who's thinking about having fun? You're there to win, right? But no one wants to compete to be miserable, so try and appreciate the experience for what it is - an experience. Try and enjoy small victories and spending time doing something you love with people who share that passion. I am always grateful at what my body can do and try to celebrate that. Be proud. Smile. You earned it!
Have you ever participated in a fitness competition? I'd love to hear all about it!