While I may not going to be going to the Games anytime soon (*ahem* ever) I can unequivocally say that CrossFit has improved my running. Last training cycle, with zero speed training because of residual hip issues, I was able to run a 10k PR and make a pretty solid comeback in my marathon. Aside from the ongoing healing from surgery I was healthier and more balanced strength-wise than I had been in a long time. I am no doubt that CrossFit helped to speed up my recovery. I also noticed my body change from a “leaner” to a “stronger and toned” build. I could actually see muscles in my arms (and abs!). Not to mention that CrossFit offers a whole new component to mental training, which nicely supplements that which I have learned from running.
However, its not always rainbows and butterflies. Being stuck between the two worlds, I have noticed that there is sometimes tension between the two (I blame it on both sides not truly understanding the other as well as some longstanding philosophies which are diametrically opposed). For example, some of my CrossFit friends will tell my how running is breaking down my body and causing injury. On the flip side, my running friends will tell my that my workouts at CrossFit are too dangerous or “extreme” (Which I have to laugh at because, really? If anything, I am far more extreme in my running than in my CrossFit endeavors). Personally, I am first and foremost a runner and I think I will always identify that way. I will never be one to forgo running or to say that one should train for a marathon by only doing CrossFit. Can it be done? Yes, but I do think there is something to be said for specificity (to some extent). There are also people who have attempted to run marathons on no training. Just because it can be done, doesn’t mean that’s how it should be done.
However, I do think that CrossFit provides a good counter-balance to the running world. While I personally subscribe to the high-mileage running philosophy, I also think that cross training and strength training is incredibly important. For any runners looking to start CrossFit, I offer the following advice:
- Just do it! Don’t make excuses or let your fears or insecurities stop you. Much like running, the CrossFit community is incredibly welcoming and loves newbies.
- Don’t be afraid to try. If you’re anything like me, CrossFit will be full of lifts that you have never done before. Some of them look really scary – but everyone has to start somewhere.
- Don’t be afraid to scale. There are going to be people there who lift a LOT of weight. Don’t compare yourself to them. Don’t worry about what the whiteboard prescribes for the lifts – scale to meet your own needs. I am embarrassingly weak and still use the training (15#) bar as the base for some of my lifts. I do what I gotta do (and you should too!)
- Tailor your routine to meet your goals. I know that if I ran a 10 mile speed workout in the morning or a 20 miler the day before and the workout at CrossFit has running in it later that afternoon, I may need to scale back a little (but maybe not – it will depend on how I am feeling). Just keep in mind, each person’s training is going to be different based on their goals. Someone who is in the middle of training for a marathon can’t expect to have the same results as someone who is focused 100% on building strength. And that’s okay.
- Don’t expect everyone to understand. Some of your running friends might not “get” CrossFit, much like some of your CrossFit friends might not “get” running. You will get nowhere trying to convince runners that they should start adding clean and jerks to their routine or convincing CrossFitters that they should be signing up for the next road race. Instead, take each for what it is and have fun!
- Enjoy being a more well-rounded athlete!!!