As Sheldon left the gym this morning, I heard him mumble, "Wow, I liked that workout a lot more on the board than when I actually did it."
I had to laugh. We have all experienced that before: The feeling of under-estimating how challenging something will be, or over-estimating our abilities. Sometimes that's OK. It's a good learning experience. BUT, for the most part, you're not supposed to feel like you might die every time you get a little dose of metabolic conditioning. We’re not trying to make you vomit, and you’re not supposed to feel useless for three hours after a workout.
In fact, the opposite is true: A well-paced workout—one that leads to you maximize your performance—will (more often than not) feel more like a sub-maximal effort (unless it’s something like a one-to-two minute all-out sprint. In that case, you might feel like you’re going to die, and that’s OK. We’re confident you probably won’t).
But if you’re on round three of a five-round workout and your third round is twice as slow as your first round was, and you’re considering stopping and going home because you might puke or pass out, something went wrong with your pace. You either misjudged the workout, or your abilities.
It means you’re TOO HIGH! We want to get you buzzed, and maybe a little high, but overdosing isn’t what we’re after. And neither should you be.
If any you can relate to any of the following feelings or circumstances when you’re conditioning, you’re probably a chronically poor pacer, and it’s time to talk to your coach about reigning in your flying and dying tendencies.
“I can’t hear, and my vision is blurry!”
If you go temporary blind or deaf mid-way through a workout, chances are you went out too hard.
“I think I just failed a burpee”
My 90-year-old grandmother failed a burpee a little while ago. She fell and couldn’t get up. If you think there’s a chance you won’t be able to get back up again on a burpee, consult your coach immediately.
Your Skin Turns Green
This might go without saying, but green or yellowish skin isn’t what we’re after…
If your coach constantly makes you stop because your form is getting dangerously poor, or you look like your legs are going to buckle underneath you, you probably need to chill out a bit and slow your pace at the start of the workout.
Although puking used to mean you worked your ass off and this somehow commanded respect, we have since learned throwing up usually means that, while you may have worked hard, you definitely didn’t work smart (Unless you just did a max effort Assault bike, because a true max effort on that machine is enough to make even the most fit athletes nauseous).
“My body is numb!”
If your lip starts to quiver, or your face goes numb, you just redlined yourself to the point that your performance will definitely be below your best today (or at the very least, you forgot to breathe).
“I need a nap”
If you’re scared to drive because you think might fall asleep, and all you can think about is napping the afternoon away, something wasn’t right with your pace.
Quick Tip to fix this
A good way to work on your pacing is to pay attention to your split times. In a five-round workout, check your split each round and see if your pace drops off from the first to fifth round. Similarly, during a workout that asks you to complete as many reps as possible, check to see how much work you complete in the first half and compare it to the second half. A well-paced workout should have you doing close to the same amount of work in the second half as the first.