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Fast Starts, Hard Finishes, and Pacing

The goal of CrossFit is to make you strong across broad time domains. What does that mean? It means that Crossfit prepares for three minute hard tasks like moving a futon up stairs, and long less intense tasks like filling up sandbags for several hours. Now in the gym we do workouts like AMRAPs and a certain number of rounds for time. The goal of every workout is to increase your work capacity in some form or fashion. However you may be shorting yourself of some of the benefits of our metcons by not pacing certain types of workouts correctly.

I write this not because i am perfect at pacing in workouts but because not to long ago i was the worst one in the gym about it. If you had asked someone to compare my athletic performance on WODs to something it would have been a bottle rocket. What does that mean? As soon as I heard ‘3-2-1GO!’ I would move like a bat out of hell then essentially drop to a snails pace shortly there afterwards. This worked great for the shorter metcons like Fran and anything inside of five minutes. However to my dismay there are not to many WODS that last only five minutes.

By pacing like that I was robbing myself of the benefits of the longer metcons. The reason is because if you attack every metcon like Fran how long does Fran put you on your back? For me at least the time it took to do it. In a metcon longer than three minutes, if I come out of the gates super fast I’m going to spend at least three minutes working at way sub-maximal capacity. This would result in a worse time and less work done, both bad things in the CrossFit world as well as the real world.

The solution to this problem? Proper pacing. One day a much older, and more experienced gym member explained to me the concept of pacing. The idea that in a long workout starting fast does you no good because you still have the rest of the workout to go. Instead, it would be more beneficial to start off a good pace but manageable where you aren’t out of control, and instead save that Fran intensity for the last few rounds or the last few minutes of the metcon. After the work is done it doesnt matter if you’re smiling high-fiving people or on the ground twitching like bacon in a frying pan, the work is done.

On workouts you know will be short, absolutely come out of the gates guns blazing. There’s no time to lose the workout will be over before you know it. On the longer ones, come out under control and save the big finale for the last bit of the workout. What do you guys like better, the short fast ones, or the long grinders? which are you better about pacing?

Josh Day working on his dips with some bonus core work! click here to check out more pics from Flickr!