CrossFit Games’ Athletes on Hydration and Pre-WOD Beverages

The power of beverages.

Hydration has been a hot topic, especially since Annie Thorisdottir had to withdraw from the CrossFit Games after getting overheated during Murph.

It doesn’t take a medical degree to know what went wrong. The summertime heat in Carson is infamous. The Murph hero WOD is considered by many to be the most brutal workout. Add a mid-day start time wearing a weighted vest, and a one-two punch of water and salt depletion, and the rest is history.

Here’s a loaded question: How should athletes fuel up for high intensity exercise and recover from the wear and tear? There’s no shortage of beverages, protein shakes, powders, recovery drinks, bars and supplements targeting the attractive CrossFit market.

Three Hawaii CrossFit Games veterans weighed in on this debate. Two-time Masters Games athlete Matt Beals said, “The subject of nutrition and in particular fueling the body for high intensity exercise can be at times confusing and riddled with massive amounts of misinformation, trendy fads and product hype.”

Vendor Village provided a good glimpse at the wide range of products now available for athletes. Mary Schwing, 2012 Masters 60+ champ and four-time Games Podium finisher, has seen a spike in goods geared toward the functional fitness community. “I see new products often,” she said. “I tend to stay with a couple products I have used for years for pre-workout and recovery.” She adds that it’s a greater challenge to keep the body fueled for Masters competitors.

“Without fuel in the tank, you aren’t going to get too far. This is an important consideration for any athlete. As an elite CrossFit athlete and at 44 years of age, I ask a lot of my body and it is critical that I fuel it properly,” said Cheryl Brost, five-time Games athlete and San Francisco fire professional.

In Beals’ view, “Food is fuel for work. Pretty much everywhere else around the world if you look at a nutritional label for calories you will find it labeled as energy. So as a baseline to have the energy for a high intensity workout you need to have adequate calories.”

The final piece of the puzzle has to do with rest and recovery. “Recovery as a Master’s athlete I feel, and proven without a doubt, is quite different than that of a younger athlete” explained Beals. “Therefore, it must be given much more attention in all areas: nutrition, rest, mobilization, hydration, supplementation.”

Each athlete has a favorite recovery product, but nothing tops good old-fashioned sleep. “It is important our bodies have an adequate amount of time to rest and repair itself,” said Brost. “Sleep is the best form of rest and most people simply don’t get enough of it. If you have difficulties sleeping, you might try supplementing with magnesium or something that contains the essential amino acid, L-tryptophan.”

Beals also touts magnesium to aid in muscle recovery. “I have learned in my seasoned years to hydrate throughout the day, this has been a game changer for me in combating muscle soreness and inflammation,” he said.

For Schwing, it comes down to balance. “The right combination of fuel and rest is a constant challenge for me as I tend to have a to-do list that never ends” she explained. “I think it comes down to balance in life and knowing your body.”


Tannya Joaquin is the media director for GR3EN Organic Energy. She’s an Emmy-nominated broadcast journalist, columnist and CrossFit mom who enjoys telling uplifting stories and challenging herself in and out of the Box. Contact her at 808.725.1751 or