Oh, hello May! You’ve heard me mention that almost every weekend in May I’m doing a challenge, and my mega month of challenges started with a big, sunny, sandy bang with Tribal Clash Portugal. It was an incredible weekend of friends, fitness and fun, and I’d recommend it to anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.
We were lucky to have an amazing team pieced together of friends from around the UK, including John and Leon from The Lean Machines, Georgina from Fitcetera, Rhian Pearson, plus Alex Millington, who stepped in last minute for our friend Zack who was resting before Regionals. We also had Ian Runs LDN as support team who took our awesome photos! Only Rhi had done the competition before, which was fortunate as she could use her experience to help strategise for the workouts. We finished 58th out of 131 teams overall and even finished 21st in the SUP race, so we were mega pleased with that!
Throughout the weekend I kept in mind what I’d want to know before my Tribal Clash, so here’s the 11 things I think you need to know before competing at your very first Tribal Clash competition.
Running on sand is so hard. However hard you think it is, multiply that by two, then double it again. This is the thing I struggled with the most over the weekend and because most of the sand runs were team sprints holding onto something (like a log, above, or the SUP board), I really felt like I held the team back during these.
I’d say get out and do some training on sand if you can, if only once to get a feel for it, but preferably much more to gain fitness on the sand. You’ll be at a massive advantage to other teams if you do this.
On Saturday we were on the beach from 9am right the way until 7pm, so we were exposed to a lot of sun. There’s shade made by a tent but that does get full up quick, so make sure you suncream up with a high factor and keep reapplying throughout the day. I saw a lot of burned skin over the weekend which must have been agony with all the awkward object carrying.
You feel the team camraderie if you’re at least coordinated, plus it looks ace in the photos if your team is matching!
Even if you don’t do outfit matching, you need to bring a set of clothes for each workout plus potentially something to wear in between. Thanks to the sand, sea and sweat, this is not a competition you want to be sat around in the same clothes all day for as things will start to chafe! Not good. Do yourself a favour and pack a bag full of shorts, bras, vests and swimwear.
Having never trained together as a team before, we were worried with how we’d get on with the synchro elements but it was actually these we excelled at, especially in the SUP race. I think being similar heights, having loud voices and keen listening helped with this!
It’s more than likely that there will be some log thrusters, squats and lunges, and clean and jerks with a sand worm in the competition, so even if you just practise the commands you’ll make – like “UP”, “DOWN”, “LEFT”, “RIGHT” – this will help you on the day. Top tip – keep the commands to one syllable so they’re easily heard and shouted!
Going onto the beach in just my shorts and sports bra, admittedly I was a little nervous about being judged for how I look with super-ripped CrossFitters everywhere you turn. Turns out there was nothing to be afraid of as there were so many different shapes and sizes competing, truly showing how CrossFit is for everyone – besides, everyone was too busy working hard to pay any attention to how other people look!
You could be squatting, bending, and jumping over a high bar, straight into swimming into the sea, so swimwear that doesn’t budge is essential. I made the mistake of taking a high leg swimsuit which was in danger of showing off much more than intended (and not just on the back of the swimsuit) plus some tie side bikini bottoms which I just didn’t trust to stay tied! I ended up wearing shorts, which weren’t ideal in the water.
Trial your swimwear in your bedroom at home, with lunging, twisting, squatting and jumping, to ensure you feel confident that it’s not going to move or come undone.
The very nature of the competition with awkward object lifting and carrying, along with hopping over tall wooden beams, means that you might find yourself getting knocked on the shins or even using your flabbier bits to haul you over things. This inevitably results in bruises, so either face up to it, or bring along shin guards, knee sleeves, chalk – and understand that your grip might not be as good PLUS you still might get bruised!
Despite there being a lot of synchro work where the whole team works, there’s still workouts where your strongest team members have to take the lead and really graft hard. They might be throwing other team members over the up-and-over beams then running straight back to haul a heavy tyre across the arena! It’s also good to assign different-sex pairs of similar abilities who can work together throughout the competition, or look at different strengths and weaknesses to see where you can fill in gaps.
There’s wild stories that come from these parties (have you heard about the naked muscle-ups..?!) however you’re likely to be completely knackered so there’s no shame in missing this. We actually just ate fajitas and drank a few beers back at our villa while we watched Thor Ragnarok. That’s partying hard to us!
Tribal Clash is one of the best things I’ve ever done and I can’t wait until next year to do it again – but hopefully I’ll be a bit more prepared for 2019 thanks to this list! Have you ever done the competition? What do you think people need to know before they compete?
Welcome to That Squat Bot! I'm Sarah, a Personal Trainer based in Manchester, UK.
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