The First Stage of Pacing Awareness: “The Wild Man/Wild Woman Stage”

The wod of the day is a 20 min amrap consisting of rowing cals, barbell clean and jerks, and bar over burpees. You start off the row at a blistering pace – holding 1600 for the first 10 cals. You then jog over to your barbell and rip through the 10 clean and jerks. You then finish the round with 10 of the fastest bar over burpees you’ve ever done in your life. Round 1 – done! You glance at the clock and it reads 1:15. Uh oh. You are in big trouble. Another 5 minutes ticks by and you are now pulling 900 on the rower, your clean and jerks have turned into sluggish singles and you are barely peeling your body off the floor after each burpee. This scenario may sound familiar to you and is common for many newer CrossFit athletes who don’t understand the concept of pacing.

Just like any other skill in CrossFit, it takes time to learn the art of pacing. In fact, most CrossFitters can fit into one of four pacing stages: 1) The Wild Man/Woman 2) The Accountant 3) The Shrinking Violet and 4) The Master. Let’s take a look at the first of these four stages and some strategies to better your pacing game.

The Wild Man/Woman

This is a common pacing strategy for most rookie CrossFitters and can often be defined by the following thought process:  “Go hard, see what happens, and hang on for dear life.” When most people start CrossFit, they are excited about the intensity of the workouts and tend to jump in full throttle without any regard for pacing. At this stage, the athlete’s capacity to finish a workout without completely blowing up has not been fully developed yet and they don’t have the experience necessary to know how to pace different types of workouts.

However, there is a way that newer athletes can improve their pacing strategy. Here are few options to practice:

  1. Write down your split times the next time you do an AMRAP or ‘For Time’ workout. This will help you develop pacing awareness.
  2. Shoot for negative splits next time you do a low-skill AMRAP or ‘For Time’ workout. (Negative splits means that you get faster every round.)
  3. Integrate paced interval workouts into your training. With interval training, you are resting between rounds and have a better opportunity to adjust your pace depending on how your body feels. Here is an example workout:

4 rounds:

  • 1 min ME row for calories
  • 1 min ME alt. Db snatches
  • 1 min ME burpee box jump overs
  • 1 min rest

Start at a moderate pace and then try to increase your pace after each round.