The Fourth and Final Stage of Pacing Awareness: The Master

The athlete who has progressed to the final stage of pacing awareness is appropriately named ‘The Master’. It is in this stage that the athlete has a “deep intuitive understanding of how to plan appropriately for different workouts and adjust plans on the fly based upon how things are going.” To get to this stage of pacing awareness takes time, lots of practice, and knowing one’s own abilities in a variety of modalities, combinations and time frames. 

At this stage, athletes don’t necessarily need to work on the exact dynamics of pacing, but actually start to become more intune with what their body can do and what situations can lead to failure or a total red line. In order to achieve this, they need to be exposed to a variety of different scenarios so they can develop the internal sense of how they feel with different combinations of movements. They can also get more specific on things they need to work on. For example, an athlete may be pretty good at bar muscle-ups, but when they do a workout that has bar muscle-ups paired with other grip-intensive movements then they completely fall apart. So instead of just working on bar muscle-ups alone, the athlete can focus on workouts that include rowing and bar muscle-ups, or bar muscle-ups and hang power cleans, etc. 

Becoming a ‘Master’ means that the athlete is able to learn and internalize lessons from every workout because they have already developed such a refined view of how they are feeling and how they are expected to feel. This creates a beneficial cycle where the athlete is able to do more training (since they are able to pace appropriately almost every time) which creates more learning (since they are getting more exposure) and also facilitates developing more capacity (since the athlete is now able to do more volume at a sustainable effort). At this point in their athletic journey, they can just get better simply by doing a lot of different movements in a variety of combinations. 

It is important to remember that every athlete is different and may not move through each of the four stages in a linear fashion. Athletes often have different “tendencies”. Some athletes may err on the side of caution and always overplan and other athletes tend to go out super hot and try to hang on. The first group of athletes would benefit from learning to cut loose and go off of feel and the second group of athletes would benefit from developing a bit more restraint and spending more time planning out their sessions. Ideally, the athlete is able to understand where they sit on the spectrum (if they are ‘The Wild Man/Woman’, ‘The Accountant’, ‘The Shrinking Violet’, or ‘The Master’) and therefore can make the adjustments that they need to.