Improve Running Performance With CrossFit

How to Balance CrossFit With Running

The tricky part is programming CrossFit workouts into your running schedule. Your goal should be to supplement your running with CrossFit workouts, not the other way around. Keep in mind that CrossFit's motto is "not specializing;" the workouts are about being good at everything and not great at one thing.

This is why programming your CrossFit workouts remains incredibly important. You need to perform WODs that are metabolically relevant to running. Doing 5 sets of 1 rep of back squats with hopes of setting a personal record isn't the right type of workout. But a WOD that involves rounds of 4 to 5 different exercises at a moderate weight will more closely resemble the energy system used in a 10K or half marathon. Throw out your junk mileage days and replace them with CrossFit workouts.

By incorporating CrossFit strategically into your weekly workout plan, you can reduce the volume of mileage and replace it with a strength-training day, done in a circuit style fashion, at an anaerobic pace. These workouts can be fun and beneficial, and will build the mental toughness and conditioning that will make you a better runner. One to two CrossFit workouts a week are all that you need, depending on your level of fitness and race goals.

More: Strength Train to Improve Running Economy

CrossFit workouts will improve fitness for runners of all distances. If you are new to running or cross-training, or even if you are a veteran, start with one CrossFit workout a week for 4 to 6 weeks. As your fitness level progresses and your body adapts to the new stress, you can add an additional workout each week.

If your race goals are to have fun and finish the event, complete two CrossFit WODS a week. If you are an experienced runner or a novice and you are looking to set a personal record in an upcoming race, start with one CrossFit WOD per week; build up to two workouts a week.

If you're training for a marathon, one CrossFit workout a week is all that is needed because the demands of marathon training require more rest. Four to six weeks before the race approaches, cut back to one WOD per week. This will allow your body to recover fully.

How to Manage High Volume and Intensity

There are two ways to improve your endurance: with low-intensity long runs and high-intensity intervals and cross-training. You do not want to limit yourself to only one way. CrossFit is high-intensity training that uses sprints, weights and gymnastics. Many running coaches and purists believe in high volume mileage training followed by intensity. Your training program needs both volume and intensity in running and cross-training.

The running off-season presents an opportunity to accomplish these needs. When you're not training for a specific race and focusing on building base mileage, the amount of total weekly mileage should be higher and the volume of cross-training workouts should total two per week.

More: High Mileage or High Intensity?

Keep in mind that there are dangers that could result from high volume and high intensity in both running and cross-training. Overuse injuries to bones, tendons and joints, and general fatigue symptoms are common problems that come with hard training. Learn to read your body—our bodies give us warning signs, so listen to them. Lower your mileage, cut out, or cut back on the CrossFit WODs as necessary. It is always better to miss a week of training rather than a month or more because of an injury.

Many runners and coaches will not agree with me, but don't be afraid to give CrossFit a try. Done correctly and planned properly, your running performance will improve.

More: 8 Ways to Improve Distance-Running Performance

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