Approaching the WOD – learning from an Olympian Part 1


By Coach Maxx

The Four P’s of a WOD
Michael Johnson held the world record in the 400 meter dash for nearly twenty years before finally being eclipsed by Wade Van Niekerk just last year. Track and field is one of the most, if not the most, competitive sports on the planet. The events of track and field have been tested every year since the Greeks started the contest in 776 B.C. So, when a record holds for nearly twenty years there’s something to be learned. Michael Johnson established himself as one of the greatest athletes of all time but not without a coach and a plan. Michael Johnson’s coach, Clyde Hart, introduced the Four P’s of the 400 meter dash. Arguably the most grueling track and field event as it is the longest “dash” or sprint event. Distances longer than 400 meters are considered a “run”. This means, physiologically speaking, it is the ideal distance for a runner to push himself near the highest level of intensity for the longest amount of time. Intensity and time, you say? Sounds like CrossFit!
Michael Johnson’s coach broke the 400 meter dash into 4 pieces that broke down like this:

 Push, Pace, Position, and Pray.

In Part 1 of this blog series, Coach Maxx beaks down the first piece: PUSH.

1) Push – In the first 75 meters, drive out of the blocks hard. Acceleration is key to any race. The anticipation builds before a race and the adrenaline in your veins will typically force you out hard and fast whether you want to or not. This is a good thing. It keeps you focused and like Rocky said, “See, fear keeps you sharp, it keeps you awake, you know, it makes you want to survive. You know what I mean? But the thing is, you gotta learn how to control it. All right? Cause fear is like this fire, all right? And it’s burning deep inside. Now, if you control it, Tommy, it’s gonna make you hot. But, you see, if this thing here, it controls you, it’s gonna burn you and everything else around you up. That’s right, you know?” Sadly, athletes every day start the WOD with all the intensity of a jet-fueled rocket and of course the first 30 seconds to a minute feel great and the athlete begins thinking, “This weight is light.” “That run was easy.” “I’ll go unbroken on everything.” As you’ve seen and probably felt, this is rarely the case. So how do we apply “Push” to a WOD? Technically, yes, go out hard and fast. But going out hard and fast in running looks very different than say wall balls or cleans. The push phase of a WOD is taking 100% control of the first movement you make. Move quickly, efficiently, and perfectly. Don’t be sloppy.


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