Pacing on Workouts


When I think about pacing done well, I think about the Crossfit Open Workout 14.5 announcement and following workout. If you watch the full 6 minutes you may notice one thing. I’ll spoil the ending for you now; Rich Froning wins this mini-competition. What you’ll notice though is not that he wins every round. He doesn’t come out blazing and never lets up. He is very methodical and comparatively slow on the first round, and the second, and third. In the last few rounds he doesn’t have to slow down because he has his pace and he sticks with it. His competitors came out faster and had to slow down to be able to finish.

Here is the video:

I know that we are not Crossfit Games Champions and the comparisons may get a little thin. There is one thing that we all have in common: no matter how often you workout, you have a certain capacity for work. You have to work within that capacity to finish any given workout. If you come out too fast you’ll soon burn out and not be able to complete another rep without gasping for air for a few seconds. If you start too slow you’ll be left wondering if you could have done more. How do we take advantage of this knowledge?

Begin with the end in mind. Think through the workout before you show up to your class. Better yet, take a look at the whiteboard and see what previous classes are doing if you have that luxury. Best case scenario, how long is it going to take you? 3 minutes, 7 minutes, 20 minutes, etc. All of these time frames require a different approach to the workout. If it’s a short workout like Grace or Isabel (theoretically 3 minutes or less), you want to crash and burn as soon as that last rep is gently placed on the ground. If it’s a 30 minute HERO WOD you want to make sure you have enough in the tank for that last round or cash out. You do this by pulling back a little bit for the first part. If you miscalculated and have more in the tank then you pick up your pace for the end. Make sure you leave it all on the ground. Remember, the point is better times, not worse.

This takes discipline and knowing your limits, just like properly scaling. You need to be mentally tough but work within your capacity. Look at every workout and plan to do the best you can by planning your pace and sticking with it.