CrossFit is difficult to pick a pace because of the variety of movements and speeds. It’s tricky to know how much the deadlifts will impact our handstand push ups, or the run will hinder our pull ups. Unlike running, where we can pick a target pace, say 5Km in 20 minutes, and break that down into 4 minutes per kilometre, and pace accordingly.
From a subjective point of view, whether we stick to our pace and how fatigued we feel comes down to 2 things – how we feel AND how we feel ABOUT how we feel.
For example, if you’re 10 Wall Balls in and breathing heavy you may think “I shouldn’t be this out of breath” so you’ll slow down. Or you could think “my breathing rate is up, this is about right for now” and keep the pace. (Even better is to say “yes I’m out of breath, I’m getting fitter, but that’s very hard to do all the time).
Another example is approaching a Deadlift bar and it feeling heavy. If you think “this is way too heavy” you’ll low down. If you think “it should feel heavy” your pace will stay the same.
As a general objective strategy:
First off, decide what “success” is in the workout, is it a test of capacity, trying to hold a certain rest interval between efforts, how many reps can we hold, what load can we move.
Secondly, look back and see how it went.
-If our strategy broke down less than 50% of the way through, we were too aggressive.
-If we got between 50-75% of the way through without a break down, it was good. Maybe we need to reduce reps slightly, or increase our rest slightly, or possibly approach again with the same strategy when we know we’ll be fitter.
-Over 75% is excellent, we just had a bit of built up fatigue that caught us out in the end.
-If we complete 100% of the workout according to our strategy, next time we’ll look to reduce rest, increase reps or load, and go again.
Mentally this is a lot more work than showing up and doing the metcon – which will totally get you fit by the way. And this strategy is not always perfect thanks to CrossFit being all about the unknown and unknowable. It takes a couple of weeks to get right, and once you do you’ll find you’re way better able to pace workouts and get the most out of your metcons, supercharging your fitness gains!