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Boost your endurance through CrossFit

February 28th, 2014

Endurance, as defined by Wikipedia is “the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.”

If you are active, in any sport, you need to have endurance.

While I do run, it’s not my sport of choice. I am a crossfitter. Maybe you’ve heard of it, perhaps not. So, what exactly is CrossFit? CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program with the aim of improving, (among other things), muscular strength, cardio-respiratory endurance, and flexibility.

As I was researching endurance running plans, one big thing popped into my head: TIME. The problem most of us have with building endurance is the lack of time to follow traditional plans. Just because we have to work for a living, take care of and spend time with our families, and all the extracurricular activities work and family demands, does not mean that we can not build our endurance base. It really means that we have to be smart with our time, smart with our methods, and smart with our goals.

This is where CrossFit can be a huge help! CrossFit Endurance is an “endurance sports training program dedicated to improving performance, fitness and endurance sports potential.”  CrossFit can be a great addition for all athletes, from runners to triathletes, CrossFit can help.

Whether you’re looking to step up your 10K to a Marathon & beyond, or if you’re looking to increase your 5K or 10K time, but don’t have time to spend on long boring ground pounding miles, CrossFit Endurance might be your answer.

Training plans can be found on the CFE website, or you can click HERE to see the plan for triathletes, or HERE for the 6 week training plan that will make you a stronger, more injury proof runner. I’ve also included the plan in the image below so you can get a peek of what it entails. You’ll have to click on the image (maybe twice) to get it enlarged enough that you can read what it says.

And this endurance plan looks much more appealing to me than any other I have seen online.

The running is much more manageable. The distances are do-able (once my foot heals of course) so this is what I’m going to attempt.

If you are a runner, do you do any cross training? What do you do?

Should you run through an injury?

February 23rd, 2014

I should be writing and telling you all about how I’m working on my speed work, and race specific fitness. But I can’t. I suffered an injury last week while competing in the Spartan Race in Tampa, and have been off my game all week long.

And to be honest, I hadn’t really started the speed work or race specific fitness anyway. Whoops.

I have a lot of hardcore runner friends. I see them post and hear them talk about injuries that they sustain during their training. Injuries from a pulled hamstring, bone spurs, stress fractures, and more.

I must be a wimp because my foot hurts BADLY.  It hurt so bad on Monday that I had to take a rest day and spent the rest of the week modifying every CrossFit workout so that I wasn’t jumping, or putting too much pressure on my left inner arch. I even had to defer my registration for the Gasparilla Lime Cactus Challenge, a race that I had been looking forward to doing for months.

I had these runner friends giving me all sorts of suggestions on why I SHOULD run. But I could barely walk, how could I run?

I really believe that I’m in tune with my body, but just to make sure I wasn’t over thinking the injury, I turned to Dr. Google for advice.

I came across this great article from Runner’s World UK version, so the spelling will be different than what you’re used to seeing.

The author states:

“There are a few general rules you can apply to pain. If something hurts so badly you can’t walk on it, don’t try to run on it, for example. Having said that, you learn to recognise your own body’s signs of pain – such that you can run through heavy legs, for example. You’ll learn to recognise this feeling of lactic acid build-up by experience, and because the symptoms tend to come on gradually.”

The author also gave some great tips for specific body parts and this is what he said about the foot:

Foot pain

Is the pain… a numbness?

If so… it could be due to poor blood circulation.

You should… loosen your shoelaces, and wiggle your toes a bit as you run. When you get home, apply the RICE treatment if necessary, and seek help if the numbness continues.

Is the pain… a crescendo pain (one that starts off mildly and gradually increases as you run)?

If so… it could be a stress fracture.

You should… take it seriously. The foot has such a complex and delicate structure that you should walk home and see a specialist as soon as possible.

Is the pain… a blister forming?

You should… aim to minimise the friction against your skin. Putting a tissue around the area can be a good ad-hoc way of relieving pressure – as can applying a generous quantity of spit.

My injury hurt so badly that I couldn’t walk on it for nearly 2 days.  On Tuesday I was finally able to hobble and decided that I needed to take a break from running to let my foot heal, and that’s when I deferred my Gasparilla registration. I thought that perhaps I was suffering from plantar fasciitis and treated my foot like I was.

Then I went and saw my massage therapist. She examined my foot and thought that perhaps it was “only” bruised. That was news to my ears because a bruise will heel much quicker than PF. And you know I think she was right. I am now feeling minimal pain, only pain when I walk in a certain way.

I am really glad that I listened to my body and took the time to let my foot heal.

Have you ever suffered a running injury? How did you deal with it?

Race Specific Fitness for a 5K

February 17th, 2014

Many many people often tackle a 5K race as their first running event. I know I did. I weighed 225 pounds and participated in a 5K with my local Weight Watchers in April, 2010. I  loved it. It was hard, it was challenging, and I felt motivated and inspired to keep losing weight so I could get better, faster, stronger.

I continued to work hard, run, cycle, lift weights, and did my 2nd 5K in February, 2011. I trained for that race for 10 months. I loved running and really my running career peaked in November, 2011 with the Women’s 1/2 Marathon in St. Pete which I finished in 2:17.

During this time I really focused on race specific fitness. What does that mean exactly??

As the name implies, race-specific training means training to the specific physiological demands of your race distance. While this might sound simplistic, the difference between the physiological demands of commonly run race distances can be quite different. Certainly, there is some overlap between distances in close proximity, like the 5k and 10k, but there is a large difference between the specific demands of the marathon and half marathon. Understanding these differences and applying the correct workouts is the founding principle behind race-specific training.

We’re focusing on race specific fitness for a 5K.

Race-specific training should start anywhere from 4-8 weeks out from your goal race. And again, I’m looking at April, so there is plenty of time! The precise starting date will depend on your experience level, training load, and how quickly you generally respond to workouts (some runners respond and adapt to training quickly, i.e. they “get in shape quickly” while others need longer build-ups). I’m thinking I’m going to need the full 8 weeks because while I am in shape, I am more of a CrossFitter rather than a runner.

In a 5k specific training phase, your goal should be to improve your speed endurance – your ability to maintain a fast 5k pace for the entire race. You’re more than capable of running much faster than your current 5k pace for one mile already, so you need to work on holding that pace for 3.1 miles. My favorite starting workout is:

12 x 300 meters at 5k pace with 100 meter jog rest in 30-35 seconds (“jog” 100 meters in 30-35 seconds as your “rest”).

Once you get comfortable with this workout, you can run 12-16 x 400 or 600 meters at 5k pace with a 100m jog rest.

My current 5K pace is S.L.O.W. but that’s okay. That is the goal of the training. To get faster.

Speed work for a 5K PR

February 6th, 2014

Last week I wrote of trying to go after a 5K PR at Iron Girl. There were three things I need to focus on in order to make this happen.

  • speed
  • race specific fitness
  • endurance

Today I’m going to talk about how to go after a PR by doing speed work. All the research I’ve done says you only need one day per week to do speed work. I think I can handle one day per week. I found this very interesting plan from Runner’s World Magazine, and I am confident I can follow it.

5K-specific workouts should be run once a week. This is a typical progression of sessions. All reps are followed by three minutes of jogging unless otherwise indicated:

* 5-10 x 1 minute (2-minute recovery)
* 5 x 2 minutes
* 5 x 3 minutes
* 4 x 4 minutes
* 5 x 4 minutes
* 4 x 5 minutes
* 5 x 5 minutes

I think I could start with a run/jog combo, I know it’s supposed to be SPEED work, but when you’re dealing with an injury you need to come back slowly, and I have 2 1/2 months until Iron Girl, so there is some time to build.

I live in a community that has a 1/4 mile fenced track, so that means I can bring the kids and they can play along, too. Makes sense since my middle daughter is running the race with me. She can work on her speed as well.

If you’ve ever worked on 5K speed work, what sort of plan did you follow?

Running towards a PR

February 2nd, 2014

What’s a PR? A PR is a “personal record.”  Once you’ve run your first race, you have a PR. It refers to your best time in a race of a specific distance. So, if you run a 5K race in 28:45, that’s your PR for the 5K distance. If you run faster than 28:45 in a subsequent 5K race, then you have a new PR for that distance. So you’ll have PRs for different race distances, from 1-milers to marathons.

Not all races are “chip timed” so I only count official chip timed races. Last week I participated in The Color Run. The Color Run is not chip timed, so I didn’t even bother with tracking how long it took me to complete the race.

Yesterday I participated in the Best Damn Race. It’s an official chip timed race. But what’s chip time?

Chip time is another way of saying “net time,” or the actual amount of time it takes a runner to go from the starting line of a race to the finish line. Many races feature a timing technology in which all participants run with a computer chip attached to their running shoe OR to their racing bib (this is what I prefer.)  As you move across a special mat at the starting line, the chip registers that you’ve started the race. Then, as you cross the finishing line, the chip registers that you’ve finished the race. So, in other words, the amount of time that it takes you to reach the starting line (since most people are not right at the front of the race) doesn’t count in your overall time. In some cases of very large races, it can take runners at least 20 minutes to reach the starting line. Your chip time is different than your “gun time,” which is the amount of time it took you to finish the race from the moment the gun (or horn) went off.

I personally went through my PR setting stage in 2012. I hurt myself in a 1/2 marathon in early 2013, so I spent most of 2013 just trying to finish races, not concerned at all with setting any new PR’s. Now that we’re a full month into 2014 and I’ve run two races, I’m not really seeing 2014 being a year of PR setting either. But maybe it could be? What would I need to do to run towards a new PR in 2014? I’ll be running Iron Girl Clearwater in late April and I ran this same course last year, and that seems like a good enough time as any to try for a new PR.

I’ve done my research and in order to set a new 5K PR there are three things I need to focus on:

  • speed
  • race-specific fitness
  • endurance

Now I just need to figure out how badly  I want it?  Can I fit any extra running into my typical workout routine? I guess that’s a decision I’m going to have to really think about.