If I Was Dave Castro, Here’s What I’d Change to the Reebok CrossFit Games

Almost every day since the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games, people have been asking me my opinion on the programming and whether or not it was too hard. 

Instead of saying whether I agree or disagree with the programming, here are 5 things I would do if I were Dave Castro: 

1) Food Tent for all Athletes

Any time you run a marathon or long endurance race, there are aid stations at every mile with water, gatorade, bananas, and other items to help you keep your body from breaking down. As the distances get longer—such as ultra-marathons or Ironman competitions—you begin to notice different food items such as chicken soup broth for sodium, preFoodTenttzels, salt tabs, and soda for pure sugar rush.

If I ran the CrossFit Games, I would have a tent specifically designed for nutritional purposes, and I would be sure that all athletes knew about this tent. One of the reasons so many athletes got hurt is most likely due to a mineral or nutrition deficiency. If they had more sodium in their bodies, perhaps their cramping and injuries could have been prevented. I am sure some athletes already had pre-existing conditions or overuse injuries, but a majority of them could have been helped had they tracked their nutrition intake from calories, protein, carbs, and sodium. 

For example, when I was watching Annie Thorisdottir struggle to run, I thought that there should have been someone there to load her up with salt tabs. Kara Webb passed out and was carried off in a stretcher likely due to working out so hard in the heat and being deficient in nutrients. 

Any professional sporting event has food tents filled with foods for athletes to have regularly. If I ran the CrossFit Games I would not make it the athletes’ responsibility to provide their own nutrition—we would have plenty of it onsite. 

2) Saline IVs

If I were in charge of the CrossFit Games, after each workout, all the athletes would have access to nurses who could hook JFrancisthem up to IVs that would pump saline and other B-vitamins into their bodies. Once again, many of these athletes were completely deficient in nutrients; by pumping saline and vitamins into their bodies, there might have been a lower dropout ratio. 

I wouldn’t simply make the IVs available to some of the athletes. That care should be available to all of them, along with education on why it is so valuable to make that step a part of the routine. 

3) Program Differently 

Here’s one thing I will say about the programming: doing Murph in 90-degree weather with the sun baking down may not have been the smartest move. If there was one workout that trashed the athletes for the weekend, it was that workout.

If I ran the CrossFit Games, a workout like this would have taken place in the morning or on a day with no other workouts. For those unfamiliar with CrossFit, Murph consists of the following: 1-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, 1-mile run. All of these steps are completed in a weighted vest (14 lbs. for women, 20 lbs. for men).

Also, was there any purpose to doing heavy or double DT? Why not just DT?

4) Increased Biomarker Testing 

One of the biggest changes I would integrate would be to track biomarkers of the athletes. In any professional sport, there are doctors on staff to check and see how healthy a player is before returning to the sport. If a football player supposedly has a concussion, then there is a series of tests he goes through before being placed back on the field. 

If I ran the Games, I would have 100% testing. In particular, I would have checked the men and women who did Murph that day to see if anyone had rhabdomyolysis. I would have done blood work on all of them and tracked their Creatine Kinase and liver enzyme levels to make sure that they were healthy enough to compete. There are lots of other tests to track as far health, and beyond these levels I would have also looked at HRV (Heart rate variability). 

Of course, CrossFit may not want to be responsible for someone by diagnosing them, but the health of the athletes should be the #1 priority. It was tough watching some of the men and women compete when you could see how injured and hurt they were. 

5)  Personal Providers

I would allow all the athletes to have their OWN providers to be there with them and care for their bodies. Whether it’s the chiropractor, PT, or MD, it would be beneficial for all athletes to have their own staff. 

Any professional team has its own providers, and those providers know everything about the athletes. Currently there is the Airrosti staff, but that is only a group of doctors who come because their corporate company puts up enough money to be a sponsor. I would let the Airrosti providers be there for people who don’t have their own providers, but I know my athletes better than any provider who volunteers and sees them once a year.IMG_2902

Each athlete should be able to have his or her providers backstage to care for them and help them, as they know their bodies the best. 

I am sure CrossFit learned a lot this year about the Games, and beyond these 5 recommendations, everything else was great: the timing of the workouts, efficiency of staff, help from the volunteers, and beyond. However, I believe that the Games should seriously consider implementing the 5 tips I have shared here. 

I would love to hear your comments below about things you would like to see done differently. If you ran the CrossfFit Games, what would you add or change? 

1 reply
  1. Angie
    Angie says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. I was so concerned about rhabdo and dehydration while watching the games this year. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to watch one of your patients going through that without being there.


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