Running: Pacing and Gears

Running: Pacing and Gears

Refining Running – Choosing pace and having gears

It is well known that CrossFitters love the clock. Given a 3…2…1 countdown they will launch into a workout with gusto. Unless, of course, the workout starts with a run. Then there is the tell-tale body lean, dropping of the head and a few shuffles forward to begin the nasty stuff that is between all the fun stuff.

This of course isn’t true for everyone. Some enjoy the running portions of workouts and really shine. Usually these people have learnt a valuable skill that transforms running from either ‘recovery time’ or ‘redline time’ to whatever it needs to be to form the perfect compliment to the workout. They have learned how to pace.

Many will volunteer that they run the same speed no matter the workout. For fast workouts this means lost time and less gains. For long workouts this means redlining and being forced to slow down elsewhere. Learning to run at different paces will give an athlete flexibility and control during a workout, allowing them to compliment the workout and play to their strengths.

Developing different running gears takes practice. It is a skill. And many might not like to hear, but developing this skill means..running! And in particular, paying attention to the running portion of workouts. Many will have a good sense of how hard to push on the Assault Bike or Rower and what pace to hold, down to a couple of RPM or seconds. Likely though if you asked the same athletes how long their run took, they’d have no idea.

One way to improve is both simple and difficult. Choose an amount of time to run and a pace. Without changing speed or checking the clock, see if you can consistently achieve the same distance over repeated efforts. This will help build an intuitive understanding of how fast you are going and how far you can go for that time domain. Then repeat over many training sessions with different speeds and times. (based on a drill used by Chris Hinshaw of Aerobic Capacity).

You can use this concept when approaching a normal CrossFit workout that has running integrated. Break down the workout to understand what sort of time domain you are looking at and choose a target pace for completing the specified running portion (i.e. For a 30 minute workout like “Kelly”, a 2:15/400m pace might be selected). Check the clock on your way out and when you get in to see how you went. If you have a watch you can even track as you go, but make sure the focus is on trying to achieve a ‘feel’ for how fast you are going and not constantly speeding up/slowing down.

Learning how to run with different gears isn’t too complicated. It just takes paying attention and being mindful during workouts. Not an easy task for sure, and developing an accurate sense will take consistent effort and many workouts. But you are in it for the long haul and know that improving your ability pace will allow you to become one of those people who shine in running workouts. What better day to start than today!

Eric Loya-Wu
Head Coach – CrossFit Central Wellington