Marathon training for CrossFitters. Photo by Rob Salinas.

Marathon Training Tips for CrossFitters

I love to run. I love CrossFit. With marathon training – specifically, training for the Houston Chevron Marathon – bearing down on me, I took my training plan to my CrossFit coach (Holly Lynn of Clear Lake CrossFit, who is also an RRCA-certified running coach). My goal is to finish the marathon, my first, upright and smiling and somewhere around the 4:15-4:30 mark. And not lose all the progress I’ve made in the box these past few months. I looked to Coach Holly for marathon training tips for CrossFitters.

Marathon training tips for CrossFitters: It's possible to run a marathon and keep going to CrossFit! It just requires balance. Here's some wisdom from my CrossFit coach. | Running tips | Marathon training

The Basic Marathon Training Plan

I found a marathon training plan that calls for three runs per week: two speed work, one long run. The key here is balance so that I’m not running or CrossFitting too much. On Tuesdays, I’ll do a track workout. Thursdays, I’ll do a tempo run. Saturdays, I’ll do my long run. The thing about CrossFit is, it’s not really cross-training for running in the traditional sense. Most plans with cross-training encourage users to take spin classes, swim, attend a yoga class, or do strength-training workouts. As we know, CrossFit is constantly varied and high intensity – basically, none of those things. My typical marathon training week will look like this:

Monday: CrossFit. Since I’ll also be in a position to do it, I’ll take a yoga class that night. No matter what plan you’re following, yoga will help work out the kinks and sore muscles.

Tip: Take time for mobility. Whether it’s a once-a-week yoga class or time you spend on your own, you’ll need to stretch your muscles and keep your flexibility and range of motion for both running and CrossFit.

Tuesday: Track workout. Holly emphasized the importance of maintaining consistent splits and consistent speed during my intervals. Depending on how I feel afterward, I’ll go to CrossFit. But Holly also did say that some of my CrossFit workouts count as speed workouts.

Tip: Maintain consistent splits during track workouts.

Wednesday: CrossFit.

Tip: Know that, if your WOD calls for a lot of running or work that’s similar to speedwork, you can do an easier run on a “running” day.

Thursday: Tempo run and barbell class. If I’m able, I’ll go to yoga that night, because the yoga class at the box is very gentle and restorative. I will most definitely need that.

Friday: Active rest, especially as I get into longer runs on Saturdays. I *might* come to CrossFit and go light if I’m doing 10 miles the next day. If I’m doing more than 10 miles the next day, I’ll go swimming for half an hour, ride my bike, or go for a long Pokewalk. It’s going to be a total “how my body feels” kind of thing. The idea on an active rest day is to keep moving but not over-tax your system during marathon training. Long runs will do that just fine.

Tip: There is nothing wrong with an extra rest day or an active rest day. Go for a walk, a leisurely bike ride, or to a hatha yoga class.

Saturday: Long run. I’ll be starting with a 10 mile run the first week. My 20-miler is week 12. Negative splits will be extremely important.

Tip: Try to run negative splits on your long runs. Run your last mile or two at your goal race pace.

Sunday: Rest. Foam rolling. Mobility. As mentioned previously, a critical one of the marathon training tips for CrossFitters is to let your body recharge. That doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch and watch Netflix on your rest day. Grab your foam roller and work on your sore spots. Do some light stretching.

Tip: Foam roll and rest. Work on sore spots.

Other Things to Note

I’ve also gotten a lot of perspective since my injury, which is why my goal is 4:15-4:30. Age is not on my side. My aging knees and back are not on my side. As I train, I need to listen to my body and dial back as needed. (You’ll notice I didn’t say “ramp up,” because I tend to push myself really hard. That might be a huge one of my marathon training tips for CrossFitters: dial back! We’re a competitive bunch.)

Also, I’m going to need to learn to love ice baths. I’m so not looking forward to that. However, cryotherapy frightens me, so I’ll pick up a bag of ice on the way home from a long run.

Any other CrossFitters who have successfully trained for a marathon? What marathon training tips for CrossFitters do you have?

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