Running and Warming up

In my last post, I discussed how I incorporate CF into my running and also how Crossfit Endurance was not the best program for me. However, as I also said in my last post, it doesn’t mean that this isn’t a great program for others, especially training for smaller distance races. I have taken several aspects out of this program and implemented them into my own training.

Here is one of the aspects of CFE that I like… the emphasis on a good warmup. I know that I need a really really good warmup if I want to run somewhat decently. In this video, Brian Mackenzie, who created CFE, talks about how to warm up before doing speed work or races and I thought that he made some great points so I wanted share.

 

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Balancing Running and CrossFit

Over the past several months, I have heard the excuse, “I want to do Crossfit, but I have a race coming up in a few months and so I think I should wait until after it to start.” I also heard this one last night, “I want to run a marathon again, but I just signed up for Crossfit so I’ll wait until next year to do one. I can’t do both.” In addition to both those comments, I have received emails from other runner/crossfiters wondering how I am able to do both.

Running and crossfit can be done, they just been to be balanced out with each other. I don’t train perfectly by any means, but I think I have started to get a lot better at balancing out the two over the past year. Please bear with me while I try and explain how I have been gone about trying to figure this out!

When I first got into crossfit early in 2010, I was running a decent amount of miles. I had been training for the Costal Challenge stage race, running around 60-80 miles a week I think and then the race itself was around 100 Costa Rican miles over 6 days. I say Costa Rican miles because first of all they are miles ran in pretty gnarly terrain. Also because 100 Costa Rican miles is more like around 100 miles, but most likely more than 100 miles. Its just a rough estimate. Regardless, it was a lot of running. Shortly after Coastal, I got the opportunity to go down to Mexico and do the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.. you know the one in the book Born to Run? Which was quite the adventure to say the least. We spent almost 2 weeks traveling down in Mexico and ran or hiked almost every day. My point of all this is, that starting off doing crossfit when all this epic running was going on probably wasn’t the smartest idea. I was worked. I remember how hard it was for me to run. My legs were dead and I could barely move on some runs. It is completely normal to be sore after your first few weeks at CF, but most people don’t go off running in foreign countries when they first get started too. So I’m pretty sure I was over training myself.

After a month or two into doing Crossfit, I started talking to one of our gym’s coaches at the time, who was also an ultramarathoner. He had come up with this training ideology called, Crossfit Endurance. At the time I had just started my training for the Western States 100 and talking to him, this training program seemed legit and so I asked him if he would help coach me for my race and he agreed. If you have not heard of CF endurance, it basically consists of low mileage running, biking or swimming (whichever event you are training for). The longest run it gets you up to is around 13 miles, but every run is HARD. It will either consist or short, medium or long intervals, hill repeats, tempo runs or time trials. No recovery runs or LSD runs. To make up for the long mileage, Crossfit workouts are supplemented into training about 5 times a week. CFE believes that long, slow distance runs just wear down the body too much and are unnecessary and that they body doesn’t really get much benefit after running over 13 miles. Adding strength into the routine will do a much better job at strengthening all the muscles, tendons, and ligaments needed during running distance.

At first, I loved the program. I wasn’t spending hours and hours training, but the workouts were difficult enough that I was definitely worn out after them. A lot of them were even harder than going out for a long run! However, after about a month or two into the program I started to miss going out for long runs on the weekend, especially since it was right in the middle of spring time when the weather was gorgeous! One weekend, I just couldn’t take it anymore and I decided to go do a long run with some friends out in our backyard mountains. What I thought would be a fun run though, turned out to be the run from hell. I felt like I had never ran in my life. I had to periodically sit down on the trail because I felt dizzy and out of breath. I ended up telling my coach what happened. Other than that run, I had been sticking to the schedule to a “T.” However, rather than providing an explanation, I just got scolded for deviating from the plan. If I wanted to be coached, then I had to stick to the plan. Ok, fair enough.

In May before Western States, I ended up running the Wild Wild West 50k, which was approved. I was excited for the race and felt ready. I had been sticking to CFE and felt that I was in really good shape to run and had hoped to do well. Again though, I struggled. Along with the 50k, there is a 10 mile and a marathon and I really considered dropping to the 10 mile. I just was not having fun. But I decided that would be super lame and would make me a huge baby and so I made myself keep going. About 10 miles into the race on an out and back section when I was really having a low moment, I saw Mark running side by side with a female runner friend of his and looking as if they were having the best time ever. Then as they passed by, she explained, “We’re winning!” This totally defeated me. I waited for them to pass and be out of sight and I sat down and cried. It was bad enough to be sucking but then to see my boyfriend and another chick winning the race together just was the icing on the cake. I was probably being a really poor sport about the whole thing, but sometimes when you’re tired, little things can just set you off and this definitely did. I eventually got up off my butt though and finished the race. I told coach that again I felt like crap when I ran, but he said it was probably due to my nutrition…

Clearly, I was having a hard time with this new training program. Fortunately I ended up making it to Western States and actually finished, but with literally 5 minutes to spare. That was the hardest finish of my life. Imagine being tired beyond belief and everything in your body hurts and then having aid station volunteers yelling at you at every aid station for the last 10 miles that you cant stop even for a second or else you won’t make the cut off and you will be pulled from the race… after 90 miles! But if you really like living on the edge, then go ahead and try this.

After Western States, I gave myself time to recover and then maybe a month or two later, decided to start training for Javelina 100 in October. I still decided to stick with CFE during my training and again felt good during those training runs. I even ran the Big Sur Trail marathon about a month before Javelina and did well, placing second female on a tough course. During Javelina though, I fell apart big time. During the first 15 mile loop my left glute felt so tight. I had to step to the side of the trail constantly to stretch. It kept getting worse and worse and worse and was started causing shooting pain down my whole entire leg. After 4 loops (62 miles) I decided to call it a day. My legs were just in no condition to run 100 miles.

After my attempt at Javelina, I was actually injured from running for the next few months. It wasn’t until the following March that I was able to finally run with no pain. During those months I was out and couldn’t run, I still kept up with crossfit 5-6 days a week. When I started running again though, I didn’t jump right back into CFE. I started running moderate distance, and then incorporated about 2 days a week of CFE into my running. When my miles started to ramp up a bit, I then cut back on crossfit to only 2-3 days a week. In just a few short months after I had started running again, I ran the Mohican 100 mile run, and what do you know.. I won! I went into the run relaxed, not cocky, just ran my own race and it payed off.

Sorry for all this rambling! But just wanted to explain my deal with CFE. All in all, I don’t think that CFE is at all a bad program. I think for someone training for a half marathon or under, this program is great. I am sure there are even a lot of marathoners or ultra marathoners who this program works great for, I just don’t think it necessarily works for me. However, I still have taken a lot away from the program. I try and incorporate 2 days a week of CFE workouts into my training program. Usually I will do one interval workout and one tempo run a week. During my off season from 100 mile training, I will up my actual CF workouts to 4-5x a week and during in season, I will cut back to about 2x a week. Also, on days that I do CF, I will make sure my run is a bit shorter. Or if my run happens to be longer than I will do a short CF WOD, maybe just some strength or a short met con. I feel training this way works best for me.

Here would be what a sample workout week would be for me:

Monday: OFF
Tuesday: shorter run (tempo or interval) + CF
Wednesday: medium long run
Thursday: shorter run + CF (maybe)
Friday: CF (if I didnt do day before, or if Im feeling good that week)
Saturday: Long run
Sunday: medium-long run

Hope this maybe helps explain how I balance out the two. What works for me though, may not work for someone else. People just need to figure out what works for themself. But both can be done and CF is a great supplement to running.

 

Palm Springs Mini Vacation

Running up the tram road

As a runner training for Badwater, I feel very lucky to live in the OC. Down in Orange County we are blessed with sunny weather for the majority of the year and Death Valley is only about a 5 hour drive from us. However, Palm Springs is even closer, only being about a 90 minute car ride away and makes for a great weekend getaway/Badwater training spot since the temperatures can get almost as high as Death Valley and there are long stretches of road to run on. Also, the Palm Springs Tram road makes for a great training run that mimicks Whitney Portal road, however about only 1/3 the length.

Mark and I made the drive out to Palm Springs on Friday afternoon. We hit a little traffic, which was to be expected because the 91 and the 60 almost always suck, but got to the Hilton in enough time to check in and head out for a run while it was still warm out. Running the tram road was first on my to do list and so that was what we did. Last year when Mark was training for Badwater, we came out to Palm Springs but since I had just ran the Mohican 100 3 days prior, I couldn’t run and crewed him instead. I was so jealous while I was crewing him from the car while he was running up the tram. It just looked like so much fun. If you have never been to Palm Springs or been up the tram, it is no joke of a hill. It is roughly 3.8 miles long and climbs a little over 2000ft. I was able to run about the first 1.5 miles before I had to walk and I would barely call it a run because it was so slow. After that I started playing games with myself. I would run 2 minutes and then walk a minute. This continued the rest of the way up and I ended up making it up in about 45 minutes I think. Then came the fun part… running back down. It was so effortless running down the hill that by the time I got to the bottom I felt refreshed. Mark was already at the bottom when I had finished and so I asked him if we could just hike a little bit longer partway back up the hill. We hiked up maybe 3/4 of a mile and then walked back down before heading back. Then it was out to dinner for some Mexican food and margaritas, our favorite post workout food!

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling ok. My goal was to try and get in about 13-14 miles, but the second we started to run I knew that wasn’t going to happen. My legs were completely trashed. We also had to be back at the hotel by 11:30 to shower and checkout by 12:30 and since we didn’t start running until almost 9:30, 13 miles just wasn’t going to happen and so we got in 10 instead. My legs felt like lead. I was running about a 9:30 pace and it was exhausting me. I just couldn’t move. We ran about 3 miles down the road and when we reached the tram road Mark asked if I wanted to go up it again and said that we could hike part way up. Thank god. I would do anything just to be able to walk, even if it meant going up hill. So we hiked maybe 1.5 up the road and then came to a dirt side road which we took back down. Running down and opening up my stride helped to loosen up my legs a bit and so the run back to the hotel wasn’t quite so pathetic and I was able to pull off some 8:30s. Still nothing to brag about but at least I felt like I could actually move!

Now the plan had been to only stay in Palm Springs for 1 night and drive home Saturday afternoon. I had been signed up to run a 5k on Sunday with some of my Anaerobic friends, but I ended up getting an email saying that the race had been postponed due to the bad weather that was suppose to come in on Sunday. The weather was so nice though out that it was hard to resist staying an extra day. Unfortunately the Hilton was completely booked, but we were able to get a room at the Marriott in Desert Springs and so we grabbed a bite to eat and then headed over. We had a nice relaxing day with some drinks by the pool and people watching the spring breakers and then sushi and martinis for dinner. Running and drinks with my love is my kind of day!

This morning we slept in and headed out for one last run. I actually woke up feeling more sore than yesterday, but surprisingly they were able to move much better. Funny how that happens sometimes. We ran another 10 miles, nothing too crazy, but it ended up being a good run. I always love runs that I get to do with Mark. Even though we live together, our schedules are too hectic to train together most of the time. When we finished our run we packed up and then headed back home away from the sunshine and into a rainy mess.

On a completely different topic…. this week was the last week of the Crossfit Games Open workouts. I ended up placing 281st out of 894 women in So Cal. Top 30% but nothing spectacular by any means. It was a fun competition and I am glad I took part though! I had a fun time doing the workouts with everyone who participated at Crossfit Anaerobic and it was a great way to get people more involved.

Hope everyone had as good as a weekend as I did!

Alexa

 

Pay It Forward

Sometimes its the little things in life that make all the difference. Just by going a little out of your way to do a favor for a friend or by paying someone a compliment, can really boost a person’s spirit. This morning I received a couple compliments on my coaching style at our Crossfit gym and it made my day. I wasn’t questioning my coaching ability before, but sometimes it is just nice to hear that you are doing a good job 🙂 It’s little things like this that make me to love going to work and also not mind being at work at 5:30am 3x a week.

I also want to point out what a great job a lot of the females at Anaerobic are doing. For example, last week I saw a mother of toddler triplets doing the “fire breather” version of the workout and another mother of two asked if I could help her prepare for a Crossfit competition. Its great to see some really strong women at our gym. It is very inspirational to me to see women who train and work hard without making excuses. I hope all the hard work continues. Keep up the fabulous work ladies!

I have moved!

Hello Everyone! I have decided to move my blog over here. I just like the formatting a little better and think it looks a bit cleaner. To start off my new blog, here is what my training was for last week. Got sorta in trouble by my chiropractor this morning for doing too much too soon, but I really don’t think this is that much at all. Need to start putting in miles!

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: 6 miles trail run followed by 3×3 Overhead Squats and 5×5 Back Squats

Wednesday: 10 miles on the road followed by:
2 rounds of 40 situps, 30 ball slams, 20 ring dips, 10 pushups

Thursday: 8 miles on the road

Friday: 8 miles on the road

Saturday: 12.4 Crossfit WOD (AMRAP in 12 min of 150 wall balls, 90 double unders, 30 muscle ups). Ended up getting through wall balls and double unders. Need to work on my muscle ups! Arg!

Sunday: 10.5 miles on the road

Total miles for the week: 42.5