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Should You do Crossfit While Marathon Training?

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Employees of Datalogix in Colorado take part in its CrossFit exercise program. Photo: Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

Running a marathon is a grueling endeavor that only the best athletes can perform. But training can be even more grueling than any competition, as marathon runners who cling to traditional methods can run anything between 40-55 miles per week. With that amount of training, it’s not uncommon to see them injuring themselves frequently, suffering everything from blisters to more serious conditions like tendonitis, hamstring issues, or plantar fasciitis. Diversifying your training methods will not only prevent injuries but also improve your performance. CrossFit, in particular, is a fitness regime that is becoming increasingly popular among runners. Here are 5 good reasons why you should include CrossFit in your marathon training program.

Reduces Mileage And Injuries: Running recovery runs, or junk miles, doesn’t do anything for your body and might even be hurting you. Switching from junk miles to CrossFit will increase your stamina and strength while also reducing your chances of getting injured. Unlike running, CrossFit is a low-impact exercise that will help your longevity by reducing the wear and tear that your joints take. CrossFit workouts focus on training smart rather than going for high-volumes of repetitions. Each movement is functional and replicates the mechanics of running but without the constant impact of the road on your feet which is bad for your muscles, bones, and joints.

Increases Power And Speed: CrossFit workouts use different exercises to target every part of your body, strengthening muscles that otherwise wouldn’t be exercised just by running. More power and speed means that you will have an easier time running on a steep hill or finishing strong in the last miles. As many elite runners have discovered, extra power also means increased economy of movements and higher endurance. CrossFit creates a strong and stable body that is capable of generating better hip strength and keep a fast cadence for longer periods of time.

Better Mobility And Range Of Motion: Runners spend a lot of time working on their aerobic conditioning, without paying enough attention to their flexibility. However, range of motion is essential for any elite competitor. Increasing your hip flexibility will translate into a longer stride that will let you cover more terrain with each step you take. CrossFit emphasizes the use of full range of motion in every exercise, in order to keep your articulations healthy and stretching to their full capacity. Which means that even if your cadence remains the same you will still be able to cover more terrain in the same amount of time

Improves Body Coordination: Practicing simple CrossFit exercises, such as burpees or push-ups, can help you improve the connection between your arms, shoulders, hips, and legs. These exercises teach you how to use your whole body together, which is the key to running speed and power. If running has been your only method of training then you probably haven’t had the chance of learning how to use your largest sources of power together. Repeating these simple exercises will help you become aware of the relation between different parts of your body and how to combine them to better your performance.

Speeds Up Recovery: CrossFit is also used by elite athletes to reduce the time they need to recover after a race. This is a good alternative to the old method of running slowly, which aren’t as effective at preventing sore muscles and prolonged fatigue. CrossFit exercises are also known to increase the production and release of testosterone and human growth hormone. Two hormones which help to develop and maintain lean muscle, which is key for any runner.

By Amber Irwin

Amber Irwin is a runner, sports writer and founder of everyfirststep.com

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