Have you ever seen the body of a Crossfit competitor??? Or better yet, have you seen a Crossfit competitor run? Their bodies are chiseled, ripped and on the “meaty” side, and their running is far from impressive.
While Crossfit may not seem like the best idea for a runner, I gave it a try. Over the past three years, I’ve become part of the Crossfit community (join me at Crossfit 2120 in Del Mar!) and it is now my secret weapon! For the runner whose goal is a faster marathon time, running is required, but A LOT of running can cause injuries. Those who are injured may be left sitting on the couch instead of the starting line. Runner’s know about “rest” and cross-training days, but these days are often neglected. We run because we love to run, so why do this cross-training thing? Oh, and rest, ya, we’ll do that when we’re dead!
Coaches and trainers suggest activities like swimming, yoga, cycling, and strength training. However, many of us just end up at the gym, on a treadmill, and using free weights, only getting three sets complete before feeling bored. That was my “cross-training” until I discovered Crossfit. “Crossfit” by definition is [constantly varied functional movements performed at a relatively high intensity]. To me that means: “show up at a certain class time, have a coach tell you what to do, and plan on getting your butt kicked a hundred different ways!” For many distance runners, enjoyment is found at a steady pace for a long period of time (there’s something soothing about the steady sound of feet hitting the pavement, am I right?) But for me, and I’m sure many others, it takes a running buddy or a coach to really challenge you past your comfort zone. Crossfit will do that; it will elevate your heart rate to a higher threshold, challenge you in new ways, and help you feel strong in ways that you may not be able to as a runner. Another plus, I’ve been injury free for three years! The functional movements performed in Crossfit workouts, as well as the Olympic weight lifting movements will make you stronger and faster over time, and most of the time you’ll have fun doing it because you’re working out in a group setting with other competitive-minded people. For example, a “burpee”, a “box jump”, and an “air squat” are all body weight movements performed in Crossfit. They are each helpful when it comes to cross-training in the running world. If performed properly, these basic movements will strengthen the muscles that are ignored and underutilized on an everyday running schedule. I’ve always had a weak posterior chain (aka glutes and hamstrings), and I was constantly referred to as a “front loader” by my physical therapist. For years, I would struggle with IT-band issues and fight through pain. There wasn’t a weight machine in the gym that was helping me really get into isolating and working certain neglected muscle groups. While it’s still a struggle, Crossfit has helped me become stronger, faster, and a more well-rounded athlete. Oh, and did I mention, I’m injury free? I think the hardest part of Marathon Training is getting to the START line without any injuries. I’m bound and determined to mix three days of Crossfit into my Boston Marathon training schedule. If you’re curious, here’s what a typical week of training looks like:
Monday- Rest day
Tuesday- easy 4 miles/PM hot yoga
Wednesday- Crossfit/ 5k post Crossfit
Thursday- interval run 7/8 miles
Friday- 4/5 miles steady state
Sunday- Long Run!