It takes time and practice to learn how to pace efficiently. But sometimes, being too good at pacing can actually backfire and hinder an athlete from maintaining their full potential. ‘The Shrinking Violet’ is an athlete who has become so efficient at their pacing that they often underpace a workout and leave too much in the tank. These athletes typically know their numbers so well that they can tell you how many RPMs they should complete any Assault bike workout at, how many minutes they should rest between heavy squat sets, and how many sets of handstand push-ups they should do during a long chipper workout.
This knowledge isn’t necessarily bad, but it can prevent the athlete from working out at their full capacity – they stay away from ‘redlining’ and therefore are no longer aware of what a truly difficult pace is for them. Here are a couple strategies to help you learn how to pace outside of your comfort zone:
Option 1: Pre-determine a specific pace to hit on the machines or how quickly to cycle certain movements.
Example: if you consistently bike at 63 RPMs, then try something like the following workout but at a higher-than-normal RPMs.
- 10 rounds:
- 6 burpees to a 6” target
- 8 kb swings (70/53)
- 10 Assault bike calories
The goal of this workout would be to move smoothly and efficiently through the burpees and kettlebell swings and then maintain 65+ RPMs for each round on the bike. This will push you outside of your comfort zone and will probably hurt a lot more than you are used to, and may even result in you blowing up, but it will give you an opportunity to test just where your capacity lies and recalculate if necessary.
Option 2: Regularly include “messy” CrossFit workouts in your training.
Sometimes it’s easy to spend too much time focusing on building up one’s capacity in running or rowing, strict gymnastics, or barbell cycling, but then shying away from incorporating all of these components together in classic CrossFit-style workouts. Sometimes the simplest couplets or triplets can be the most painful and effective. Take the following workout for example:
- 10 min AMRAP:
- 3-6-9-12…power cleans (115/75)
- 4-8-12-16…bar-facing burpees
This is a great way to practice working outside of your comfort zone because even if you start off pacing this workout well, it will start to get uncomfortable and you will have to adjust your pacing strategy based on how you feel.