Coaching Roundtable: CrossFit Open 15.2 Tips & Advice

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Coaching Roundtable: CrossFit Open 15.2 Tips & Advice
15.1 is on the books, and now it’s on to 15.2 … which turns out to be 14.2 all over again! Some athletes are going to be fired up and some are not. Read what our all-star coaching roundtable has to say before you tackle this nasty workout (and hopefully demonstrate your improved fitness over last year).

Steph Gaudreau|Stupid Easy Paleo

Ahhhh the return of 14.2! This one’s all about how much you’re willing to suffer and tough it out, pushing yourself into to the next rounds for ever-increasing reps of overhead squats and chest to bar pull-ups.

The top athletes last year were into the rounds of 20s, going way past the 15-minute mark. That puts 15.2 at a much longer time domain, metcon-wise, than 15.1, where the work was 9 minutes of metcon work plus a max effort clean and jerk. 

You’ve got to know realistically where you think you’ll end up with this one. If you’ve got two good rounds in you, I wouldn’t worry about drinking or eating anything during this WOD. 

Athletes who are vying for top spots in their region know that every rep matters for making it to the next round, so they’ll be playing it pretty conservative with breaks to stop and drink, and reserving those breaks for chalking up or resting their arms. 

If you need something to drink, opt for your favorite electrolyte replacement or something like coconut water with a couple pinches of salt. 

Realistically, most people aren’t going to eat or drink anything during 15.2, so any fueling is going to happen beforehand with a refuel afterward. So, let’s talk about fueling before.

This workout will definitely demand glycogen, so being sure you’re properly topped up before the workout is important. 

The day before you attempt the workout, pay attention to your post-workout refuel, getting enough protein and carbohydrate to kickstart recovery. A good ratio to play around with is 2:1 (carb:protein). If you’re taking down 30 grams of lean protein, double it and have about 60 grams of starchy carbohydrate.

If you’re topped up from the day before, and you’re attempting this workout around mid-day or in the evening, you may want to toss in some carbs at breakfast or lunch, respectively, but don’t go crazy and think you need to carb-load. 

Make sure you’re adequately rehydrated, too.

If you’re attempting 15.2 in the morning, decide whether or not you’re going in fasted.
If you’re attempting 15.2 in the morning, decide whether or not you’re going in fasted. Since this is primarily a metcon, that could work well for you. If you’re not used to training fasted, I’d take down a snack-sized portion of protein and fat or something like butter coffee with some protein powder mixed in. 

So, do you need to do a pre-workout? Totally depends. If it’s been 3-6 hours since you last ate and you’re feeling hungry—or what I like to describe as hollow—you may want to eat some protein and fat about 30-60 minutes beforehand. This might be a protein shake with a bit of coconut milk, a hardboiled egg, or at the least, 5 to 10 grams BCAAs. 

What about post-workout? If you’re going long, this one’s pretty demanding. You’re definitely going to want to refuel with protein and carbs in that 2:1 ratio I mentioned above. Think of things like a recovery protein shake that has carbs added into it; a protein shake with something starchy on the side; or a serving of lean protein like chicken or tuna with potatoes, white rice, etc. Don’t skimp out on the post-workout carbs here.

You’ll probably be pretty gassed after this one especially if you’re going past the 6 minute mark. Relax for a few minutes and let your body come down out of that sympathetic state where you’re making sweat angels on the floor before trying to shove down a post-workout shake or meal. 

Ideally, try to eat your post-workout within 15-30 minutes of completing 15.2, so if that means bringing it to the gym with you, plan ahead. Eat your next full meal as normal, potentially adding a bit more carbohydrate than normal, especially if you made it into the upper rounds.

Steph is the author of the newly released, award-winning The Performance Paleo Cookbook and The Paleo Athlete. She’s the nutritionist and recipe writer behind Steph qualified for the 2014 American Open in Olympic weightlifting, competed at CrossFit Regionals in 2013, and used to race mountain bikes and Xterra.

Dr. Allison Belger|Licensed Psychologist, PsychologyWOD, TJ’s Gym, and Juggling for Jude

Dr. Allison Belger|Licensed Psychologist, PsychologyWOD, TJ's Gym, and Juggling for Jude

We say it all the time: “This one’s going to be a mental battle,” or “This one’s going to come down to who is more mentally tough.” For some workouts, those statements are more true than for others. This is one of them.

The thing about the time domain design of this workout is that, for strong competitors, there will be significant rest periods.Having rest periods can be nice, but it also means having plenty of time to be left alone in one’s head with one’s thoughts.

Typically, the pre-workout period marks the time for focused, deliberate mental concentration and internal chatter. Once go-time happens, the mental chatter usually takes place in the background of the physical activity.

Just as rep-scheme plans will be critical, mental strategy will likely play a significant role in the outcome of 15.2.
This time, during those rest periods, athletes should be ready to attack the mental game with a plan and with poise, because the mental game will now be in the foreground. Just as rep-scheme plans will be critical, mental strategy will likely play a significant role in the outcome of 15.2.

Experienced competitors will likely already have a transition routine that allows them to move from their warm-up mindset to their performance mindset. This transition signal can be a simple ritualized routine (e.g., 5 arm swings, 5 foot stomps, 5 deep breaths and a quiet utterance of a cue phrase, such as “Go time” or “I’ve got this”).

For 15.2, it may be particularly useful to create an additional quick transition cue/routine for subsequent restarts – there are a whole lot of “3,2,1..GO’s” in this workout, and that can be a mind game if you’re not prepared. Be ready with a go-to transition for the ten-second period before each three-minute set. This might be one or two big, deep breaths, followed by a mental image of being done with the set successfully.

This is not a workout into which you want to go with the attitude of “If it doesn’t go well, I can always do it again.” If there is even a glimmer of possibility of a repeat, it will likely be difficult to go to the very uncomfortable place you will need to visit if you are hoping to be a competitor.

Don’t give yourself an out; your hands may be too torn up or vulnerable after your first attempt, and you may struggle to harness the intensity you’ll need the second time around. I say give yourself one shot on this one, and make it count.

Try to fight the urge to conjure when you might be able to fit in a second try. Visualize yourself inputting the score you want.  Act like there’s no tomorrow, and give it everything you’ve got.

Thinking about going again can be a crutch and a flee from intensity. Hang in there with the challenge, rise to the occasion, push through the fatigue, and don’t give yourself an out.

Another unique aspect of this workout is that the difference between finishing the given reps in a three-minute window and not finishing them can end up meaning huge differences on the leaderboard. Even if you are behind someone by just one rep, if that person finishes a round and you don’t, you will end up many places behind him or her.

Those last few reps in what will be your last full round are gold; fight like crazy to get them, so you can buy yourself the opportunity to continue. Center yourself as I discussed last week – use a cue word to remind yourself why the discomfort is worth it. It could get ugly for some of you, and you’ll need a mantra to keep yourself focused!

This week’s mental slip warning is to be sure not to get any no-reps on the overhead squats. Force yourself to exaggerate your depth at the bottom and hip opening at the top. If you do get a no-rep, register it as a signal to do better, and keep moving. Getting caught up in the potential unfairness of it all is foolish.

One final note for this week is on checking in with yourself and monitoring your system throughout the workout. Ripping your hands badly could mean as much as a week off from training hard with grip-demanding movements.

Unless you are in a position where you might be fighting for your athletic life to qualify for Regionals or for the next step as a Masters athlete, I’m not sure those setbacks are worthwhile. Certainly if you’re taking on the Open with more of a “weekend warrior” mentality, do yourself a favor and make part of your goal coming out of the workout with your skin intact.

I know this can be a controversial topic, but I generally advise athletes to err on the side of not ripping their hands and protecting their bodies. There is a time and place to put it ALL out there and literally leave skin in the game; be honest with yourself in assessing whether or not this workout qualifies as one of those times for YOU.

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