We’ve heard it many times. Crossfit training transfers into long slow distance performance. LSD as it is commonly abbreviated. I think one would have to be on LSD to want and run anything over 10k. Yesterday on a whim I wanted to see just how well my Crossfit training is holding up to long slow distance running. Mind you, I’ve been doing mostly Crossfit HQ main site WOD’s and including additional strength training for the better part of 6 months. Mostly West Side bar bell stuff – box squats, varied dead lift training such as one arm DL’s and some ab work. I haven’t run more than a mile or two on a few occasions since last years triathlons. No consistent endurance training.
I currently live in Superior, CO. About 12 miles from Boulder Colorado. I wanted to run to a national park nearby, Chautauqua National Park and then run one of their trails to the top. It wound up being about 2 half marathon distance runs with a trail run in between.
WOD: For time
Run 12.5 miles
Trail run 2.8 w/ 1,422′ net elevation gain
Run 12.4 miles
Round-Trip Length: 2.8 miles
Start – End Elevation: 5,710′ – 7,132′ (7,132′ max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,422′ net elevation gain (+1,440′ total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderately Strenuous
Crossfit training held up nicely for me. Was it a brutal run? Yes. Did I walk on occasion? Yes. But, I had no extra preparation either physical or mental. I had only decided to do the run after walking a half mile and said what the hell. Almost as if it were randomly pulled from the “hopper”. I also had no water bottle until I found one at the trail head at mile 12. Cleaned it up and filled it with fresh water for the rest of the run. Completely unprepared I completed the run in about 7 hours, with delays for lightning and a 30 minute planned rest at the halfway point. There were no water stations like an organized race. It was 81 degree’s and overcast most of the run, except for the torrential downpour of rain at mile 15 on the way back. Lightning encouraged me to stop and let the worse of it blow over. Truly a unknown and unknowable WOD. As much as I could create on a whim.
If you check out this link Beating the Boston Marathon there are some excellent points made about endurance running under such circumstances. The video is good too. The argument seems to be can Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance training help the elite, competitive athlete. If their desire is to become a more rounded athlete, yes. But, if they wish to continue to be competitive at the elite level then specialize programming for them is most likely the way to go. Why?
Although I completed my run, it was by no means a stellar performance. Plenty of endurance athletes would crush the run time I had of 7+ hours. Assuming they could best me on a trail run in between. But, turn around and place those endurance athletes in any other non-endurance related event and I would probably best them considerably – Olympic lifting competition, pull ups for time, hand stand push ups and double-unders, etc. Perhaps even other endurance events such as swimming and rowing could prove to be a nice match up.
As Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance continue to seek legitimacy in the eyes of elite athletes, it leaves one wondering why would they even want it? The endorsements would be nice and vindication for programming that is scoffed at by many would also be a plus. But, I don’t think it is necessary. Crossfit is the every mans training program, preparing for the unknown and unknowable. Asking it to deliver a worlds best time takes it from broad general physical preparedness to specialization. On some level CF may help the specialists, but when it comes right down to it, the specialists needs specialized training to perform at peak levels and traditional Crossfit programming is too broad to make an impact in area such as endurance running. To get good at running you can get by with CF/CFE. To be great at running you need the genetics, the will to train and lot’s of dedicated hours towards training. There are no shortcuts to greatness. Elite level endurance athletes could care less about how much they can dead lift.
In the Crossit video (Link above) Dr. Doug Harmon of R.A.W. Training talks about running the Boston Marathon. To run the Boston Marathon you must qualify for your age group in a prior sanctioned marathon race. No small accomplishment for many:
“I couldn’t train for a marathon the traditional way. I just do not have the hours or the schedule to accommodate that.”
I think this sums up CF/CFE. It is for people who want to perform respectably in a marathon or other endurance event and do not have hours upon hours of time to dedicate to traditional marathon endurance type LSD training. I echo the sentiments above, CF has served me well in being prepared for the unknown and unknowable.