Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cross Fit Endurance versus Long Runs

Post by Anna Boom

Can you skip the Long Run?

Recently, Shirley, one of our lovely hard core runners posted about using Cross Fit Endurance as a way of training. This caught my attention because I know Shirley can RUN! (Okinawa and Naha marathons and up to Okuma) and I am a certified Cross Fit Endurance running coach.

I messaged her immediately, cautioning against using CrossFit Endurance training as a substitute for long runs.

If you have tried CrossFit and love it, like many of us do, you know it is mentally one of the hardest 10-20 mins of your day. You push yourself to the point of nearly throwing up, or even past it (hopefully you are outside). It is intense, challenging and over.

I enjoy doing these explosive WoDs, workouts of the day, and became certified to do the Endurance part. This is meant for runners, cyclists, triathletes, swimmers, athletes who go for longer periods of time.

CrossFit Endurance is a great workout. They recommend running in minimalist shoes with forefoot strike and with a figure four type of stride (from the side, a runners legs will form a 4 with the knee in front and high heel). Although I am a fan of minimalist shoes for myself, the forefoot strike and Pose method is not something I use or encourage others to use.

I did a lot of research on using CFE before setting up my training plan for the Equinox Ultra in Alaska. There weren't any top athletes who supported this method of training. I decided to experiment on myself by adding it heavily in my plan. I kept a moderate long run, but did not cover the miles I had in all previous training plans. Instead of my weekly mileage peaking around 60+ miles a week, I was hitting around 35 miles.

That Alaska race, and the following Portland marathon were not my best races, although they had the right conditions to be. When I hit that wall, my legs did not have enough endurance built up to carry me forward. In both races, my legs were logs. Cement logs.

There are opposing opinions out there on using this type of workout and still being able to run an endurance event. You will find a few success stories. For example, this male triathlete used CFE and loved it.

There are many, many more opposing arguments:,7120,s6-238-244--626-0,00.html 

As an athlete, I love CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance WoDs. I recommend them highly in the off season when you need that push, that pain and you are tired of running (say it ain't so! And yes, we've all either been there or will be there).

As an endurance athlete, I use CF and CFE WoDs sparingly, after I have done the bulk of mileage for the week, not instead of the long run.

Check out Kara Goucher's Running 101 in Runner's World.

Long runs do wonders for your endurance. They should account for 20 percent of your weekly mileage.

Kara can't be wrong!

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