CrossFit and Long Distance Running: Can I Train for Both?

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Naysayers declare it can’t be done.

Broscience pundits assert you must prioritize one over the other or you end up compromising performance in both.

Some experts say it is possible to successfully train for both.

Can an athlete successfully train for both long distance running and CrossFit?

The answer may surprise you.

I will try and tackle this question by presenting the training and ideas of someone far smarter than me, Brian MacKenzie of CrossFit Endurance.

people in CrossFit gym

CrossFit vs. Marathon Running

Marathon Running done well takes endurance, aerobic capacity and speed.

CrossFit is about overall strength and conditioning.

The two sports seem at odds with each other in many respects – namely goals, results, and especially training methods.

The Argument

Your chosen training program determines whether or not you can train for long distance running and CrossFit at the same time, and be successful.

Book: Power Speed Endurance

Full Disclosure: Before I get started I want to say these ideas are NOT my own. They came from the book Power Speed Endurance by Brian MacKenzie. In some ways, this can be considered a book review or overview of sorts.

MacKenzie is a very smart guy, an old school crossfitter and ultra-marathoner.

He has used both long distance training programs I am about to briefly discuss, and he now incorporates CrossFit into his training routine.

Tale of Two Long Distance Running Training Methods

Top view athlete runner training in sportswear

Training Method One: The more traditional High Mileage Training Method.

This method focuses on Volume first, with distances in excess of 100 miles a week.

According to Mr. Mackenzie, this method eventually leads to body breakdown and injury after many years of training. He experienced this first hand and has seen it with clients he trains.

No doubt, high mileage training works.

Some of the most successful long distance runners use this method. But are the short term wins worth the long term musculoskeletal damage?

Long distance, high mileage training over an extended period of time leaves athletes over trained, losing muscle mass and prone to injury.

Some find it boring and leaves the athlete little free time. Did I mention this type of training calls for over 100 miles a week of running?

Even with a 7 min mile that’s nearly 12 hours of just running every week.

Training Method Two: CrossFit Endurance – Pose Method + CrossFit.

The Pose method for run training was developed by Dr. Nichols Romanov, a sports scientist.

It intends to create efficient and well rounded athletes who have strong endurance but not at the cost of destroying their bodies.

CrossFit, designed by Greg Glassman – is a training methodology used to create all-around athletes proficient in al physical skills, who is strong, agile, fast, coordinated and flexible.

Mr. MacKenzie combined the two styles in a high quality, low volume training which many find downright unorthodox.

MacKenzie believes that many endurance athletes lack strength and conditioning and the addition of CrossFit to the program conditioned all metabolic pathways instead of favoring one over the other.

MacKenzie was his own guinea pig.

He tested the combination of Pose training combined with CrossFit on himself as he trained for an ultra marathon.

The results:

He outran his previous ultra marathon time, and did so without injury.

The most amazing part:

He trained less than 10 hours a week!

CrossFit Endurance was born. MacKenzie uses this method with his clients and he wrote a book about it.

You do not need to sacrifice your health and body for running performance and you can train successfully for both running and CrossFit at the same time.

Running Shoes vs. CrossFit Shoes

Athletes foot close-up with heel support running shoes

Before I close I want to put this out there real quick.

If you plan to train for both sports, you will need at least one pair dedicated to each sport.

CrossFit shoes are designed for CrossFit and Running shoes for running.

The Best CrossFit Shoes:

  • Thin stable sole.
  • Low Drop (flat with no incline).
  • Secure at the sole but open and flexible in the toe box area.

The Best Running Shoes:

  • More cushion than CrossFit Shoes.
  • The right Running shoe can correct or minimize damage from pronation and arch problems.
  • Running shoes return downward energy propelling you forward.

I want to know what you think.

I understand the idea that you can train for CrossFit and Long distance running simultaneously is controversial and I want to hear your opinion.

Leave a note in the comments below. I read each one.

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