CrossFit, Marathon Training, Richmond Marathon 2013, running

How to balance CrossFit and Running

Since I began CrossFitting back in January, I have definitely noticed a lot more muscle tone than when I was just lifting randomly on my own. CrossFit has made me WANT TO lift heavy weights and each day I cannot wait to see what my body can do. Whether its lifting and working on strength or doing a CRAZY endurance workout of the day (WOD). I have the endurance to run 13.1 miles at a below 8 minute per mile pace. Doing 400m sprints with a mix of box jumps, burpees, power cleans, etc. is a a whole different story. I tend to think that these WODs are the ones I should be particularly strong at but I am not. I actually think it takes me longer than the people that don’t run long distances.

Anyway, I have been thinking lately about marathon training and CrossFit. I see some of these elite CrossFitters like Christmas Abbott and Miranda Oldroyd and am jealous of their bodies. I no longer envy the bodies of just skinny girls. I now am striving to have the body of a strong, fit woman (not that I am saying skinny isn’t beautiful. This is a judgment free zone!)

Miranda is jacked!
This is my “perfect” body. You go Christmas!

My dilemma is that I do not think I am going to see the gains and muscle tone that I want with CrossFit while I am training for a marathon and running 30-50 miles a week. The bodies of CrossFitters and the bodies of endurance and long distance runners don’t usually look the same. Do CrossFit and long distance running not mix? Help! Can I be both a CrossFitter and Marathoner?

Any marathoners out there that also CrossFit? I really would like your opinion on this subject. I am stuck. Do I train for my first marathon and then convert to full time CrossFitter and stick to running shorter distances although I do love the half marathon distance? Or do I settle with smaller muscle gains and continue to run long distance? Or do you know the answer to achieving both!?


17 thoughts on “How to balance CrossFit and Running”

  1. Ah! I have been in the exact same dilema for the past 6 months or so! I feel like I am not advancing as much as I could in either arena because of the other one. If you find out the secret formula to succeeding in both areas let me know!

  2. Hi! This post is perfect for me! I just started marathon training-it’s a goal to complete my first marathon in Baltimore this Fall. I’m doing the marathon training program through the Charm City Run running store and my coach (who does Crossfit!) said it can be done if you are careful. She would usually recommend not doing Crossfit during first full marathon training because marathon training takes a lot of time, rest and recovery in between long runs and intense workouts. She said if I wanted to do it though learning to do long runs on tired legs would be helpful for the race and probably to downgrade to a 2x/week membership and go on 2 days that are set for crosstraining and an easy run or use it as a recovery activity if you are feeling okay. My box has only unlimited monthly memberships. I’m going to try to continue it because I’ve only been making it there 2-3 times a week anyways. I plan on trying to go twice a week but marathon training is my priority right now!

    1. I live in Baltimore so it’s the CCR Baltimore in McHenry Row. I go to Crossfit Federal Hill! If you’re looking for a running buddy or just a friend who is running and Crossfitting just let me know or email me!

  3. I don’t do CrossFit, I do a boot camp version (without the weights, etc.). I’m not sure if this makes a difference, but I’m noticing better splits and I’m getting into a comfort zone quicker now. I think I won’t be able to make a real judgment until I start my marathon training schedule next month, but so far I’m running stronger and I’ve noticed better splits.

  4. I would definitely incorporate some type of anaerobic workout into your marathon training, whether its Crossfit or some other high intensity interval work. I am much faster now by doing more high intensity training than I was in high school cross country when all I did was run. I ran the unofficial NYC marathon (my first one) last year and trained 3-4 days of high intensity training, 1 long run, and 1 or 2 shorter recovery runs a week. Finished in 3:10 and felt great. Will do similar training this year. Also, I doubt my bones could handle 40+ miles of pavement pounding a week. Running less helped me stay healthy and high intensity training will actually improve your endurance and speed. We just had a blog post about it a few weeks ago.

    Also, a great Crossfit endurance workout is Murph. I sometimes supplement a long run for a double Murph because I think its more fun and its easier on the shins.

  5. I am a new reader and love your blog! As for your dilemma, have you tried adjusting your diet? Changing up your ratio of protein/ fat/ and carbs might help you get the results you are looking for. Good luck!

  6. Hey! I wrote out a long post earlier and then my phone died. I am now left with trying to remember what in the world I wrote. Haha.

    So, the issue is like you said…you will not really see the gains you want from the combination of Crossfit and marathon training. They are two different sports: anaerobic and aerobic. Sure there are “endurance” crossfit workouts. I think you should take a look and see what your priorities are. With it being your first marathon, I think you need experience in running the distances and just focus on the ability of completing a marathon.

    You should take a look at the “Run Less Run Faster” program. I maybe biased bc I just started it. But, this is my 5th marathon I am training for and I love it so far bc I don’t feel burnt out. They call it a “3plus2” program. You do three primary runs: track workouts, tempo runs, and a long run. The plus 2 are days when you do swimming, biking, or rowing. They have a section in the book about crossfit and strength training but they think you should do it in addition to the “3plus2” program.

    Rest is definitely the most important and you need to listen to your body. I don’t want to make a much longer post. But, you can read what I’ve wrote and if you have any questions or thoughts, I will check back in. Lol.

    Happy training for your first!!! 🙂

  7. Great blog! I’m in the same boat – I’m training for the Chicago Marathon in October, but still doing Crossfit 3 times a week. I’m running three times a week – doubling a Crossfit day with a shorter run. So far, its been working well, I’ll see how it goes with longer runs.

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