How to approach a long workout.

We all workout for many different reasons, from improving strength, cardiovascular capacity, to clear the head or just for a bit of you time. I personally find that different types of workout are more appropriate to different things. Lately I’ve been doing long sessions along with CrossFit Classes in preparation for the Rat Race Coast to Coast challenge that I’ll be doing at the beginning of September.

Just like any workout knowing how to approach it is very important, not just so that you can do it as quickly as possible but also so that you can keep good form and control of what you’re doing. This was very apparent to me the other day when I decided to take on a team workout by myself, knowing that the total volume of work was going to be at the high end I wanted to make sure I could keep myself moving and not feel disheartened as the workout went on.


For time
5km Row
400 Wall balls

Looking at this, my first instinct was to question if I really do the whole thing, or should I scale the wall balls to a more sensible number? However the more I thought about how to approach it and where I’d have issues I thought it was more achievable and less ridiculous than it may first seem.

The row.

While training for an event like Coast to Coast, I’ve become a lot more accomplished with longer monostructural movements such as running and cycling. With this in mind I knew that I would be able to keep going as long as I set a steady pace and didn’t get carried away. For me I know that sub 2:00 average 500m splits was that pace. If needed I could carry on at that speed for 30-40 mins, and knowing that I had to deal with the wall balls after, which would be harder I didn’t want to empty the tank on the row.  

The wall balls.

Where to start!

Luckily I had completed Karen (150 wall balls for time) in the last couple of months. Anyone who did this at the same time as me knows I was not happy with my time. I didn’t have the best approach to the workout and ending up doing sets of 3-5 reps at a time, which was purely down to going out too hard. As a result of this I decided to have a 5 minute rest and do it again, but stick to a strategy no matter what. So the second time around I approached it as a EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute) completing 15 unbroken wall balls and then resting the remaining time of each minute.

So as part of the 5k, 400 wall ball workout I kept this in mind and decided to have a similar approach. I would complete 10 unbroken wall balls EMOM, however I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t rest longer than 30 seconds, as from a psychological point of view I wanted to keep moving the whole time. This also made sure that I completed each set of 100 in under 10 minutes, and gave me a push to keep going.

Creating smaller targets.

The wall balls were always going to be hard, so I gave myself four goals to achieve to make each part more achievable keep me going. I only thought about 100 wall balls at a time – I didn’t think about the next set 100 at all. All I had to focus on was sticking to the strategy above and hitting a sub 10 mark for each set. As a re-set between each 100 I took a few seconds to note my split time. This not only gave me a target for the next round but also acted as a reset from the previous 100. I also decided to aim to do the next round within a minute of the previous time, giving me a further goal of consistency in the workout.

The result.

I finished the workout in 51 minutes and 15 seconds. My plan had worked, I was consistent throughout keeping to the strategy, which was put together as a result of previous experience. From a mental point of view I was happy to complete the session and to know that I had come up with a logical and suitable method to get through a long workout.

Moving forwards, I will continue to reflect on a workout before I start to come up with a plan of how to approach it. This skill carries over to life too – breaking down a large task into smaller, achievable pieces for example.

Coach Phil

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