CrossFit and Running: A Perfect Pair?

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As a runner, you shouldn’t brush off CrossFit as a form of cross training, because embracing it can help you with your running game. Using CrossFit as a supplementary workout can strengthen your muscles, and ultimately make you a more efficient runner.  If you incorporate CrossFit into your training schedule, without pushing yourself too far, you could be in for a big surprise in regard to how much your running performance will improve.

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is an approach to fitness that concentrates on intensity level, so even if you only exercise about ten minutes, you’ve definitely gotten a good work out in! CrossFit features a WOD, or workout of the day, that you employ, which can keep things interesting, since you don’t have to do the same exercises in the same order for the same amount of time, day after day. CrossFit can employ a number or exercises that are beneficial to runners including push-ups, pull-ups, squats, planks, kettlebell maneuvers, and more.

How does it benefit running?

This is why you’re reading this, right? The high level of intensity that is involved with WODs will undoubtedly get your heart rate up, just as running does. But one of the biggest benefits of CrossFit is strengthening muscles and bones which are important for both CrossFit and running.  Additionally, CrossFit can also help you work on balance and speed thanks to the short, intense WODs that concentrate on those particular muscles.  It’s clear that there could be a connection between employing CrossFit for training and being a faster runner with better form.

Furthermore, CrossFit—specifically CrossFit Endurance—can increase your endurance level, and this is one of the key areas in which it can benefit your running—particularly long distance runs. Through the high-intensity design of CrossFit, you’re pushing your body through more than it would typically have to handle within a short period of time, and as you keep putting your body through it, you endure it better. This can easily transfer to running as you might be more capable of making it to the end of a race and over the finish line due to your CrossFit training. In essence, CrossFit helps you to go even when you have every reason to be exhausted, as you likely will be in longer runs.

Likewise, different exercises focus on different sets of muscles, and that’s a concept that makes cross training a good idea for runners.  If you can target a new set of muscles to build and strengthen by adding a day’s worth of swimming, for example, your body will be in better shape because of the addition. For running, especially if you plan to run on uneven terrain such as hiking trails, there is a good chance you will deviate from your standard running form. Strengthening muscles that will help you balance and navigate technical trails is important and CrossFit can help you to make those adjustments safely by strengthening different muscle groups that you will utilize while running.

What are the disadvantages of adding CrossFit to your schedule?

The simplest answer I can give you is this: Considering the level of intensity for each activity, doing both running and CrossFit can be too much. If you push yourself too much, you could be asking for an injury. So while it would be a good idea to add CrossFit into your weekly schedule, don’t expect to be able to maintain your current running schedule and pursue CrossFit to the level that the most devoted CrossFit enthusiasts are doing.

The solution is to expect some kind of compromise. You should decide which fitness detail is the most important to you and keep that in mind while planning your schedule.  If you’re reading this, let’s assume yours is to be a stronger runner.  Because of that, make sure your overall focus stays on running, and that CrossFit is only a means to become a better runner.

For runners, CrossFit is kind of like the sprinkles on the cupcake. Be sure you keep a solid foundation of running throughout your week with CrossFit workouts sprinkled in to better the overall experience. Instead of doing a WOD every day, maybe scale back to two or three times a week, and if you’re going to do a particularly strenuous run that day, keep away from the leg-based WOD options, especially before hand, so that you aren’t wearing yourself out before you even hit the track or trail. Focus on how CrossFit can benefit your run, not compromise or replace it.

 

References

Allen, J. (2012, September 29). How I Used CrossFit to Become a Better Runner. Greatist. Retrieved from https://greatist.com/fitness/crossfit-running-endurance-performance

Brooks, A. (n.d.). How to Balance CrossFit and Running. Running to the Finish. Retrieved from http://www.runtothefinish.com/balance-crossfit-and-running/

CrossFit. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.crossfit.com/

How To Balance CrossFit And Running. (2016, August 24). Carrots ‘n’ Cakes. Retrieved from http://carrotsncake.com/2016/08/balancing-crossfit-and-running.html

Taylor, E. (n.d.). Improve Running Performance with CrossFit. Active. Retrieved from http://www.active.com/running/articles/improve-running-performance-with-crossfit

Yeager, S. (2016, March 18). The CrossFit Workout Runners Should Actually Try. Runner’s World. Retrieved from http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/the-crossfit-workout-runners-should-actually-try

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