I have always been a runner at heart. Crazy, I know. So when I came upon CrossFit a few years ago, it was hard for me to let go of my running roots while I “fell in love” with this newfound and exciting form of fitness. Like most people who come through CrossFit SOAR’s Foundations Program, I began with 3 classes per week, every other day, while continuing to run daily. When I decided to officially marry both running and CrossFit full time, I thought surely, I could maintain the same intensity for each discipline. Boy, was I wrong! It wasn’t until later in my journey that I discovered three key programming principles to help me incorporate CrossFit into my running program and vice versa. These programming principles have helped me lead a more joyful, injury-free, and well-balanced training lifestyle and I want to share them with you.
As I learned more and more about Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, and other cool body weight movements, I became a workout addict! I became addicted to the 7-minute metcons, all the AMRAPS, and especially the EMOMS. I was hooked and I just could not get enough, so naturally, I began to train every day. At the same time, I upped my running game because as a former D-1 track & field athlete, training hard on a daily basis only felt right. If I wasn’t training at my CrossFit box, I was training for my Olympic Development Club Team, Garden State Track Club. It wasn’t until one evening right after CrossFit and on my way to hurdle practice that I felt my calves tighten. I thought to myself, “I’ve been making too many gainz to let up now. So, I sucked it up and went straight to the track. After bounding the 3rd hurdle that evening, I felt a resounding pop in my achilles. I froze mid-air and fell from above the hurdle, landing straight on my shoulder in order to avoid completely tearing my achilles tendon. It was devastating. I thought I would never return to the gym or track again. I was lucky that my injury wasn’t more serious and that I was able to return to physical activity only weeks later through persistent and steadfast rehabilitation, but I had learned some valuable lessons: 1. Training CrossFit and running every day left me completely fatigued and overtrained. 2. I needed to learn how to listen to my body better and just say, “No, not today” because training only one style of fitness was actually ok and 3. I had to figure out this “rest” thing because it was the key to my success, especially when training both CrossFit and running. I was lucky I hadn’t torn my achilles that day.
Not Enough Variation
Have you ever had someone tell you that their training is not working anymore? I have many times. In fact, this is the number one complaint I get about running programs, “Nast, I train every day and this program just doesn’t seem to be working anymore…or I stopped losing weight…or I just can’t seem to get out of this plateau in my training.” Sound familiar? These symptoms are most likely due to lack of variation and therefore motivation in your training. Old school training programs are very linear. They advise you to continuously add miles to your training until you reach your desired mileage, usually right before a race. In my opinion, this style of training is monotonous. The overtrained athlete eventually reaches a point where they are no longer effectively testing their body’s energy systems and the body responds by either shutting down with some form of overuse injury or it simply stops responding to the same training stimulus. Under these conditions and if your body could speak, it would basically tell you, “I’m bored, shutting down, here’s an injury, and we’re done.” We need to add variation to your programming and that usually includes…dun dun dunnn….sprinting! Yup, you read that right, running really fast for short spurts of time. Actually, running really fast, then slow, then fast again for a certain period of time is called Interval Training. Try adding interval training to your programming at least once a week. It works.
Did you know that when you train over a certain amount of time, you need to begin fueling? It is obvious that when we train, we exert a lot of energy. For some reason, it is not obvious that at some point, we need to consider how to replenish that energy so we can continue to expend more of it! We call this fueling and it is just as important in CrossFit as it is in running. We have created an environment at our gym that as soon as you’ve completed your workout, you fuel up, whether that’s through a protein shake, a bar or some sort of snack. As I continue to work in the running industry, I am learning that many people either do not fuel or they just don’t know how. For some, fueling ought to be done when they run over an hour. For others, over 90 minutes and some others, over 2 hours. Fueling is crucial in ultras, marathons, triathlons and even in half marathons. Knowing what fuel source to take and how to take it is just as important. For example, are you a Guu kind of gal or do you prefer cubes? What if you have a hard time actually taking down solids, what would be your drink choice? Knowing how to take your fuel is also key to a successful race. One of the best pieces of advice I ever learned is do NOT mix simple sugars during a race, or ever! Meaning, if you choose one fuel source, stick to that fuel source the entire race. In other words, if you typically use Guu in your races, stick to Guu and do not switch to cubes. I bet you didn’t know that. My mind was blown too. Overall, fueling properly and knowing how to fuel, can lead to better success in your training.
Training for both CrossFit and running can be fun and super rewarding if programmed correctly. When you program correctly, your body is healthy and therefore it’s happy. The more happy, the better training, the better training, the happier you are and the more you can spread that joy into your boxes, into your communities, and into your homes….because, after all, isn’t that the goal?!
I hope you enjoyed these programming tips. As always, if you ever have any questions or are looking for personalized programming, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.