The top 5 ways CrossFit can help you PR your next marathon time
At CrossFit Jerusalem, we get a lot of runners.
Some of them peaked years or even decades ago, and are looking to break through a plateau.
Others just want to build muscle and improve body composition.
All want to strengthen their cores and reduce injuries.
I am always amazed by our distance runners who manage to beat scores that they have been grappling with for years.l
(Pictured is Avi Horowitz. Two weeks ago he PR’d his Half Marathon with a 1:36 time after being stuck in place for nearly a decade. His goal in the grueling Jerusalem Marathon this Friday is sub 4. Avi works out at CrossFit Jerusalem. Go Avi!)
Here are the top 5 ways CrossFit can help you achieve that peak performance you are after.
1. Core strength. CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program. Not in the sense of doing thousands of crunches and other isolation exercises, but in the sense that every movement we do builds on a foundation of a strong and stable core. When you run, your body needs the ability to produce and transmit high forces across the entire frame from your fingertips through to your toes. Weakness in the shoulder girdle or abdomen will catch up to you when the mileage gets high. Neglect these areas at your own peril!
2. Flexibility. Short hip flexors and/or quads are the bane of runners, especially those whose lifestyles require lots of sitting. Literally some of the greatest athletes in the world are a hair’s breadth from devastating knee and back injuries which will take them out of training and competing, due to tightness in these areas. Doing full range of motion functional movement is a panacea for short muscles and the associated dysfunction, but if you have a real problem, there is no substitute for targeted mobility work.
3. Balance and symmetry. We’ve all seen the hunched athlete shuffling over the finish line with their head looping off to the side. Kudos to them for their bravery and fighting spirit, but let’s face it: It ain’t pretty and it’s sure as hell not good for anyone. At CrossFit Jerusalem we regularly perform unilateral strength work to shore up those weaknesses and imbalances. Any strength work is a good start, but by working each side of the body independently, you are more likely to attain functional balance. Dumbbells or kettlebells are excellent tools for this special kind of strength work. Also, there are motor units which only fire when you do crossover work like scales and bird dogs, very similar to running.
4. Recovery. A well rounded GPP* athlete will be back to regular training with 48-72 hours of an extreme event. Compare this to the average week or so many marathoners take, during which the body loses precious progress made leading up to the event. The key is variance in training both before and after the event. Basic science tells us that an organism responds best to stressors it is unaccustomed to, which is why it is so critical to change it up constantly while at the same time being focused on your goal. *GPP = General Physical Preparedness ie. CrossFit like training programs.
5. Hip and leg strength. An often neglected muscle group is the gluteal complex. The reason we are attracted to people with nice butts is because this supremely important region is most indicative of fitness in the crudest sense. Strong functional glutes support healthy backs and knees, and will also power you up that hill when your legs are tired. Minor errors in running or squatting form, multiplied by thousands of reps, are a disaster waiting to happen. Prevent it before it happens by working with an expert coach who can watch you move and prescribe appropriate exercise.
We all love that special feeling of completing a long distance event. There is nothing quite like it! (Even lousy runners such as this author have been known to enjoy the occasional half marathon). Come prepared by incorporating smart CrossFit/GPP training 1-3 times per week in the months or years leading up to your event!
Book a free meeting with a coach who can help you meet your goals at https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=13876588