Running benefits CrossFitters in ways they don’t realize. At the box, I hear “I hate running” all the time. When Holly posts a running WOD, almost everyone groans (except me, but then I get pointy looks of death). But running is good for CrossFitters in so many ways: for conditioning, for rest, and for crushing WODs. This post is based on the interview I did with Holly Lynn, owner of Clear Lake CrossFit, a L2-certified CrossFit coach, and a RRCA-certified running coach. Here’s why she recommends CrossFit athletes lace up and hit the pavement or treadmill a couple times a week.
Right away, Holly identified better conditioning as one of the biggest benefits of running for CrossFitters. “Conditioned athletes smoke through workouts because their anaerobic thresholds are greater than weightlifters,” she said. “My athletes that come in here with running backgrounds do substantially better at 75 percent of metcons than someone who’s just been weightlifting.”
Metcons are the metabolic conditioning portion of a CrossFit workout. Depending on how your coach programs workouts, these could require endurance, hitting your anaerobic threshold, or working in intervals. Athletes that are great at weightlifting but not cardio often struggle when they meet a half-mile on the whiteboard. Running benefits CrossFitters by providing that conditioning.
Since CrossFit is a pursuit that requires athletes to be well-rounded, it makes sense to add running to the mix. It not only helps with conditioning but also helps flush out lactic acid from hard workouts. For example, after a heavy squat day, Holly recommends going for an easy-paced run for recovery. Yes, running benefits CrossFitters by providing something to do on an active recovery day.
So how often should CrossFitters run? It depends on how often you’re hitting the box, but a suggestion from Holly is to add in two or three miles, two to three days a week, at an easy pace to work on conditioning and find your aerobic capacity in a run. You don’t have to do sprints; just build a good base. After a while, those endurance metcons (especially those 20-minute AMRAPs) will start getting easier, and you’ll see your scores improve on the whiteboard.
(This is the second half of my CrossFit and running post series. Read the first post, How CrossFit Benefits Runners.)