Why Crossfit is NOT Going to Help Your Running
By Mark Blomeley
Well I said it… and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Crossfit isn’t going to assist your running performance, in fact it may do the exact opposite.
To be honest, I think Crossfit is fun and has brought some positive things to the fitness industry. However, it’s not the silver bullet that’s going to dramatically improve your running.
The main reason that it won’t help your running is because of the programming.
Crossfit is designed as a 5-6 day per week program. If you just do a couple of days then the program is usually immediately unbalanced.
Therefore, it really is an all or nothing program.
What I mean by this is to do Crossfit and run is essentially not compatible. To do 5 days of Crossfit and then 3-6 days per week for 99% of athletes this is too much training load.
Ok, so that’s why it won’t help from a programming point of view.
The other issue is energy system training.
Cross fit doesn’t consider each energy system, and certainly doesn’t personalise it to what distance you need to train for.
For all the talk of a high intensity program, most Crossfit programs tend to have one key fatal flaw. When you have been doing Crossfit for 6 months or so, you’ve gained fitness and strength and this is when you usually hit the Crossfit plateau.
The reason for this plateau is when you do a Metcon (a Crossfit workout) the workouts are generally longer than 2mins. When you workout (without any rest) for longer than 2mins, you immediately produce a majority of your energy for exercise from the aerobic system. So, what starts to happen is that within a Metcon you can start to moderate your heart rate accordingly to stay utilising your aerobic system.
In order to boost your anaerobic threshold (i.e. the point between exercising aerobically and anaerobically) it takes high intensity, short bursts followed by rest periods.
This is why in running we do intervals, hills and speed work then have recovery.
To be good at any sport it requires a dedication to training specifically for that sport. That’s what your program needs to centre on.
Light cross training in the pool and on the bike is great, plus doing a couple of strength sessions a week that covers a whole body program is all you need outside of running.
If you’re looking to go from couch to running something, crossfit will absolutely improve your running. I used to run and get terrible knee pain, after doing strength training with crossfit, I no longer have knee pain when I run. I’m at a point now where I need to work in interval days and one endurance day of running into my M-F schedule to see appreciable gains, but to say that crossfit isn’t going to help your running depends greatly on the talent and the issues people have with running. I think there are a lot of people who have successfully integrated crossfit into their training programs for running with good results.