When I started running in 1998 with my high school track team, my focus was the 1500m and 3000m events. In truth, I have never been a great runner, but I have always been a good runner. Running epitomized my definition of fitness: fast = fit; a simple equation. The advice I heeded regarding running was also simple. I would become an even better runner as I ran more and more.
In 2008, I decided to start running farther and registered for my first half marathon. I spent weeks doing on-line research focusing on the best ways to train for a half marathon. All the top running websites said, more or less, the same thing. One should run five to six days a week. Of those days, one should be spent completing a long, slow run, another day should have the runner doing hill repeats (their version of strength training), and finally, the others days should have the runner completely 5kms at a reasonably fast pace. This made sense to me and this is what I did. As a result, I successfully ran my first half-marathon and so I decided to use this program for my next 6 half-marathons. My times fluctuated, but I finally managed to reach my goal of a sub-2 hour half. So what if I ran it in 1:59.0? It was still under sub-2 hour half and that’s what counts.
I learned that the downfall of this program was that you had to put in a lot of miles and time over a 16 weeks – 491 kms to be exact. This creates a lot of wear and tear on the body. I was plagued with shin splints and sciatic pain, and would often spend the 2 days after a long run hobbling around. I figured no pain, no gain, so kept at it. Unfortunately, I seemed to have stalled at that 2 hour time. I was no longer making progress and if anything, my times were slowing down.
Enter CrossFit. After toying around with the idea of joining for over a year, I finally gave it a go, but simply as a means to get stronger so that I could possibly run faster. Nine months after joining CrossFit, I ran a half and still didn’t PR my previous best time. Man, was I frustrated.
At this point, I talked to Kevin about wanting to PR at my next event. We talked about it A LOT. He recommended that I do a series of high intensity intervals and suggested that putting in the miles wasn’t going help me reach my goal of sub 1:55. I thought he was crazy, but what did I have to lose? I figured I was only 31 years old and if I wasn’t successful, I would have many of other opportunities to train the “right way” later. So, I took the plunge.
On Kevin’s training program, I ended up running less than 200 kms in preparation for this year’s Legs for Literacy. I saw improvements in my running almost immediately. I still did the occasional long run to monitor my progress and was able to run comfortably at a significantly faster pace than I had in the past. As a result of illness and injury, I had to take 2 weeks off on two separate occasions prior to the event. Because of this and my fear that my race time would be compromised, I was extremely nervous the week before the race sensing I had not done the training required to finish the race let alone meet my time goal.
On October 27, I ran my best race to date. Not only did I exceed my goal of a sub – 1:55 half, but my time was 1:48. I PR’d my best time by 11 minutes and finished 16th of about 200 in my division. Even better than that is the fact that I didn’t have any sciatic pain or shin splints the entire time I trained. I also felt recovered within hours. I am officially a convert and have a Running Room training guide to give away if anybody is interested.
Today is a double strength day. Work your two (or one) strengths of your choice.
Cashout – Try a rope climb
If you have extra time, work on a “goat” (something you suck at).