If you watched the Boston Marathon last week, you saw something pretty incredible. Desi Linden won on the women’s side breaking a 33-year winless streak for American women.
Linden’s race was inspiring, but what stuck out to me during the race was her training plan. Like most elite endurance runners, Linden averaged upwards of 100 miles per week or more in training. Even at a 6:00 min/mile clip, that’s 10 hours of running a week excluding all of the warm-ups, stretching, strength training, and recovery work necessary. It’s also a lot of pounding on your body.
On the flip side, you have Karly Wilson, one of our original founders and CrossFit Undeniable athletes. Wilson has run 70 marathons with a PR of 3:05 while running a fraction of Linden’s weekly mileage. At the same time, she still hits PRs in the gym and dominates CrossFit workouts.
Somehow, Wilson has become incredibly successful at longer running events without following the traditional model of logging 30-40+ miles a week.
The secret is CrossFit Endurance.
What It Takes to Be Successful in Endurance Events
Back when I was training for running events, I was convinced that success in endurance sports was tied to a few things:
- The amount of pasta you ate the night before.
- The number of miles you logged on a weekly basis.
- Your body composition, meaning staying as skinny as possible.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As I learned more and as programs like CrossFit Endurance began to demonstrate, success in endurance events relies on four key components.
Proper Form and Technique
You can’t pile a ton of weight on your overhead squat if you have crappy shoulder flexibility and bad positioning. The same thing applies for running.
If you’re constantly striking the ground with your heel first or bounding too high in the air when you run, you’re wasting energy and increasing the pounding your body experiences when your foot hits the pavement. Over a half mile, that might not matter a ton. When you’re talking about a 5k though, that technique makes a real difference.
High-performing endurance athletes recognize that running technique forms the base that everything else relies on.
Muscle Mass to Decrease the Rate of Injury
Every time your foot hits the ground when you’re running, your body is forced to absorb roughly 3-4 times your bodyweight in force. Proper technique certainly helps to improve how your body handles this stress, but form starts to break down in even the best runners when they’re exhausted during the later stages of a race.
Weight training builds muscle and strengthens ligaments and tendons so your body can handle those long miles during a race. It also evens out muscle imbalances and strength differences between your right/left and upper/lower body.
The Ability to Metabolize Fuel Over Long Periods of Work
During an endurance event, your body needs to be able to convert stored fuel into energy to feed your muscles and keep you moving. Such was the impetus behind the carb loading craze of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Carbs are one source of fuel your body can use during long events. Stock up the night before, the theory goes, and you’ll be well-fueled for race day.
We now know this is only part of the story. Without getting too technical, we can influence both the fuel your body uses during endurance events and the efficiency with which that fuel is utilized with proper training.
Your body can store a lot more fat than carbohydrates. Through nutrition and training, we can convert our bodies from carb burners to fat burners enabling us to use the endless fat stores for fuel during long events.
With the proper training, we can also increase things like mitochondrial density within our muscle fibers. Think of mitochondria like the power plants in your muscle cells. They produce energy for the muscles to use. More mitochondria equals more fuel for your event.
How You Clear Lactic Acid
Chances are you’ve heard of lactic acid before. Even if you haven’t heard of it, you have definitely felt it!
In order to understand lactic acid, we need to get a bit science-y for a moment.
When your muscle cells uses glucose (a form of energy), they create a by-product called lactate. The higher the rate of glucose utilization, the higher the rate of lactate production.
Again, there are a lot of moving parts, but just know that lactate causes the release of hydrogen ions within the muscle. If you remember back to your high school chemistry class, you’ll remember that higher levels of hydrogen ions create a lower pH also known as an acidic environment (hence the term “lactic acid”). This acidic environment interferes with muscle contractions in a major way, decreasing how much force you can produce and ultimately slowing you down.
The important thing to know is that well-trained athletes can actually clear lactate as it’s produced. Essentially, when your body starts producing lactate at lower levels, trained athletes can use that lactate as fuel and prevent it from negatively affecting their performance.
There’s obviously an effort threshold above which this isn’t possible. At that point, lactate begins to accumulate and performance dips, but through proper training, we can help your body to handle lactate better and ultimately improve your capacity.
All About Our Next CrossFit Endurance Cycle
CrossFit Endurance is meant to address all of the components mentioned above. We start with proper technique teaching you the POSE method of running. Better technique equals faster times and lower injury rates.
We combine running with barbell lifts and other exercises designed to build muscle and strength while also increasing your endurance capacity.
By modifying the lengths of our workouts, we teach your body to better utilize fuel over long distances and clear lactic acid during hard efforts.
Ready to sign up? Here are the details:
- There’s a 5k test in the beginning and at the end so you can see how much you have improved. With only a few exceptions, everyone improves their time. This stuff works.
- CrossFit Endurance lasts for 8 weeks starting on June 4th and running through August 4th with one week “off” in the middle for July 4th.
- You’ll work with a coach during a specialized class on Tuesday and Thursday at 5PM and on Saturday at 8AM. If you can’t make the weekly workouts, you can always do them on your own during open gym or during another class time on Tuesday/Thursday.
- The cost of the entire program is $175.00.
Ready to sign up? Email email@example.com to get started!