A while back I did a post on knowing your pace ("Choose Wisely My Friends") and how efficiency can lead to more of a flow-like state which increases performance, i.e. makes you do more work in less time. This concept jogged another idea.
Have you heard about the idea of a "runners high" that runner-types talk about? I've always looked upon this as something I would love to experience, but never once have had it happen, until a few months back. We did a workout a while back: 3 rounds of 800 meter run with Isabel, Grace and some thrusters. Do you remember? On the second run I can safely say I had an experience that felt exactly how the "runners high" has been explained to me. I was doing the workout by myself (which probably helped in this instance), and on the second 800 I found myself feeling some fatigue come on. When running, a lot of time I think about (but rarely do it) Josh Bridges when he said, "it really doesn't hurt that much more to run a little faster." So I tried it. I picked up the pace just a little, and then all of a sudden it felt like someone else took the wheel. I was running, but it felt NOTHING like any other running experience I've ever had. It didn't feel like I was doing anything. It felt like I was on complete autopilot, observing the process.
Back to the idea of pace. How do you truly know your pace in a workout? Or when you're working out, how do you absolutely find your pace? It seems the only way to truly do this is to be in the moment. In other words, you may be going at your accurately projected pace based on many tests of a particular workout, but if you're filled with crazy negative thoughts for example, this accurately projected pace will not work (at least as effectively), because you will not be a physiological state that will allow you to perform efficiently.
So, knowing your pace is the first step. The second is getting into the moment so you can truly find and be in your pace. How do you get into the moment? Two suggestions.
Firstly, think less, feel more. It's possible that when I increased my run pace slightly on that workout, this upped my focus and attention out of my mind and into actually what was going on - my body movements. Then, as I felt deeply into the sensation of running, I "lost myself" and entered the runners high. A lot of times our thoughts are of the past or future, which can cause stressful states and pull you out of the moment. Your body is only ever in the present, trust that.
Secondly, focus on the breath. You cannot breathe into past or future, you can only breathe right now. This may be getting out of the scope of CrossFit talk, but it isn't hard to see that's actually not the case at all. How do top athletes describe their best performances? What does it mean to be in "the zone?" The zone is the same thing as being in flow or the moment. The breath is a tool to take you there.
With attention on/in the body and/or with the breath, your body will shift into more efficient ways of moving and expending energy. Your physiological processes will be much more beneficial during and after the workout for it.
Here is Lacy and Steph tapping into the flow state with some laughs.
10 Thrusters every 3 minutes X 5
5 rope climbs
30 box jumps (24/30in)
5 rope climbs