A common misconception when I talk to my non-CrossFitting friends is that you can’t CrossFit and do other activities as well. The conversation usually goes “Hey, you should come check out my gym. We are having Bring a Friend Day.” They reply with “Naw, I play volleyball.” This makes no sense to me. That’s like saying “No, I can’t go out for tacos. I eat steak.”
Those of us who CrossFit know that while, yes, it can be viewed as our “sport”, to most of our athletes, CrossFit is an enhancer of all the things we do outside the box. Want to have more energy on the weekends so you can play softball? Do a few hours of CrossFit a week. Want to be able to keep up with your kids on the playground? A strength and conditioning program (CrossFit) is a great way to maintain your fitness and allow you to do that. Want to go kayaking without having sore shoulders on Monday? CrossFit. You see where this is trending.
This viewpoint is especially prevalent when I talk to runners. “No, I enjoying running. I don’t need CrossFit.” Mmmmkay. I’ve never heard of anyone who does some sort of fitness for fun that hasn’t benefited in some way from additional high intensity training.
I recently spoke to 3 of our athletes of different running backgrounds. The first being a good friend of mine who was the MOST reluctant fundies member we’ve ever had. Alli Rehfeldt came to about 7 Bring a Friend days and clearly enjoyed it, but wouldn’t admit to enjoying it. “I’m a runner. I like going for runs.” It was her constant mantra. Finally, I agreed to sign up for a run in exchange for Alli signing up for Fundamentals. Fast forward 2 years. I asked Alli how CrossFit has impacted her running.
“I was going to CrossFit once or twice a week and I hit mile pace times that I was never able to hit through running alone. I was 30 seconds faster a mile than I could previously run. Over time, I flipped how often I ran with how often I went to crossfit class. Running were my off day workouts, and I was going to crossfit 3 to 4 times a week. That’s actually when I saw the biggest benefit to my running ability. I hit my fastest mile times ever. Over a minute faster than what I could have hit just being a runner. Crossfit has made me stronger and faster, and who doesn’t love seeing those kind of results?”
After 7 years of being a “runner” exclusively, doing everything from 5ks to a half marathon and obstacle courses without seeing significant improvement in her running pace or splits, the missing piece was a strength and conditioning program. Alli still runs. She still enjoys running. She’s just better at it now. She also has some of the most amazing back muscles. She didn’t get those from running.
Jenna Congdon is similar to Alli in that before CrossFit, she was a “runner.” She enjoyed running. She preferred running to her boring strength work in regular gym. Rain or snow, she’d rather be pounding the pavement. She thought she was in good shape thanks to running. This is what she had to say about her running gainz:
“I only run about once a week now, just for fun. I honestly haven’t paid attention to my pace in a long time. I finally noticed how much faster I’ve gotten this past memorial day. My first mile during Murph was 8:12. Not spectacular, but the thing was, I was telling myself to go slow! I knew I had the whole rest of the workout to do. A year ago, a “slow mile”, would have meant 10 or 10:30 min. I actually did a double-take at the clock. Last week, I retested my 5k time. Bam!! Almost 5 MINUTES faster than last year. I retested my mile too- it was 1:45 faster!! What?! Somehow my lungs and muscles have grown so much that running feels like a breeze, not just chugging along.
Strength seriously does add speed, and the short, intense endurance stuff we do seriously does add long-distance endurance, both in mental and physical aspects. Even while backpacking last week, Dan commented on how much less he was stopping to wait for me (usually I hike way slower than him). I’m a faster hiker now too!! Crossfit makes muscles. So now if I get chased by a bear while hiking, I have a way better chance of survival. End of story.”.
CrossFit has made Jenna more immune to a bear attack. If that doesn’t convince you, maybe our next story will. Misti Ward, one of our longtime members, is the opposite type of athlete as Alli and Jenna. Misti enjoys the strength and conditioning. CrossFit is her jam. When Misti started CrossFit, she was unable to run 400m without stopping to catch her breath. Running; not her jam.
Recently, Misti ran a ½ marathon without training for it. Yeah…..just up and did it. This is what she had to say:
“After my first year I had my annual health screening at work and my numbers were remarkable. I went from having high cholesterol to normal without medication. I had went down 2 pants sizes and lost 10 lbs. I felt fantastic!! My best friend and I decided that we should try a 5K. I had my doubts but we went for it and ran it nonstop and finished in about 33 minutes or so. I think I cried tears of joy when I crossed that finish line. The following year we thought we should go to Madison and try the Crazy Legs 5 mile run and again ran it nonstop with a respectable time. We then started discussing a ½ marathon but thought we would give ourselves until we were 50 to so do. Why rush things right? Well we completed our first one a few weeks ago, at age 46, in 2 hours and 35 minutes stopping once at mile 11 for a quick drink of water. Never in a million years would I have ever guessed that I could accomplish this but thanks to crossfit I did!!!!!!”
I love Misti’s story because CrossFit created a runner! Having the strength and confidence from working hard in the box has opened the door for Misti to take on new fitness pursuits. Again, CrossFit is not exclusive. You don’t have to JUST do CrossFit. Misti used CrossFit as a tool to get fit and healthy and is now living an active life thanks to a few hours a week of hard work in the gym.
CrossFit and running (or any other sport) are NOT mutually exclusive. You can live an active lifestyle doing all sorts of fitnessy things. However, if you aren’t doing a high intensity strength and conditioning program, you may be missing areas of fitness that could help you out with the other stuff you enjoy doing. Muscle mass is a good thing, people. Even for runners. Our goal at CrossFit Stevens Point is to ensure that you are a well-rounded athlete and can bring your “A game” to whatever you choose to do with the rest of your time, whether it’s hiking, hunting, playing with your kids, sand volleyball, softball or a weekend jog.