I’m honored to be a part of Amanda’s Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge. You all should be proud of committing to this challenge and getting better every day during such a busy time of the year!
While I cannot claim to be an expert regarding CrossFit, hopefully my experiences can help answer some of your questions and open the door to this type of training. CrossFit is an outstanding way to enhance your endurance training by building strength, flexibility and speed.
One of the first questions I usually get is, “Can you run and participate in CrossFit?”
CrossFit can briefly be defined is as, "Constantly varied, functional movements executed at high intensity," (source). That sounds manageable, right? As a former collegiate athlete, I appreciate the desire to get better every day, seek new challenges, and be a part of team, something running couldn’t offer me entirely even though I adore it.
So, can you do both?
I believe so. A little over a year ago I would label myself singly, as a runner. In fact, my very first race was a full marathon. A little ambitious on my part, but I caught the racing bug and kept training. However, the beginning of plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head and I had to limit running. But, I still wanted, needed, to be active.
I began CrossFit on my own, modifying the prescribed WOD (workout of the day) using the equipment I had available. At first, I questioned whether I could get an effective workout in just 20 minutes when I would run more than 90 minutes at a time. However, during those 20 minutes, I was pushing myself outside my comfort zone, well outside. I was uncomfortable. Challenged.
Once I joined a CrossFit box (the gym where workouts take place), I saw a higher level of intensity and experienced instruction. Skilled coaches broke down movements from power lifts to pull-ups. They offered scalable modifications for a new participant like me to perform safely. This means regardless of one’s fitness level or skills, there are ways to adapt the workouts.
I believe CrossFit compliments my running performance. Some of the most fundamental movements in CrossFit like squats, kettle bell swings, pull-ups, and push-ups are among my favorite exercises for running (source). For example, many CrossFit workouts incorporate sprints in addition to other movements, kind of like speed days within a 5k, 10k, or half marathon training cycle.
During CrossFit WOD’s, I learn to run on tired legs which is exactly what happens towards the end of a race, especially a hilly one! Most recently, I was able to cut 4 minutes off my 10k personal best time, and I have this combination of training methodologies to thank.
Thinking about trying CrossFit?
Please check out my post on 5 Tips for CrossFit Beginners and go for it!
Jess Allen is a FitFluential ambassador, NSCA-CSCS trainer and author of the fitness blog Blonde Ponytail, where dynamic workouts and healthy recipes are shared along with life in between exercising. She stays active by running, Crossfit, teaching fitness classes and taking daily walks with her golden retriever, Cooper. Jess resides in Omaha, NE where her husband coaches baseball at Creighton University.
I am grateful for a reminder that to be a better runner, sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and do other things…and have fun doing it!