7/30/2015 - "I Hate Running"

by Coach Tanner

For the past 4 years in the CrossFit community “I hate running” appears to be the anthem that many are shouting. Slogans such as “Will only run if chased” are copy, pasted and sold by the thousands on shirts that are adorned proudly by athletes in gyms all over the world. Now the question is why? Most are aware that CrossFit as a whole has slowly been biasing strength for the past 4 years, and more and more people are gravitating to heavier and heavier barbells. We now have reputable CrossFit athletes that can be very competitive at the national level for the sport of weightlifting, but we see junior high and high school students demolishing our times when it comes to aerobic based tests. Obviously both of these sports are very specialized, and the idea behind Coach Glassman’s original vision was not to specialize, so why should you care more about running as a CrossFitter?

How many times as an athlete have you been in the middle of a workout and realize that you can no longer breathe/control your breath? Your coach tells you to breathe, but you absolutely cannot. This lack of breath will cause the heart rate to skyrocket to levels of discomfort, which is when you find athletes doubled over with hands on their knees gasping for air. I find this is most common in newer athletes who lack the idea of a pacing mechanism; they are not sure what the appropriate pace would be so they just want to do as many reps as possible, which is going to lead to burnout. Take a very classic CrossFit workout like “Helen” – 3 rounds of: 400 meter run, 21 kettlebell swings and 12 pull-ups. If an athlete is unsure about how fast to pace they are more than likely going to blow through the first run and hit a wall once they get inside and pick up the kettlebell. This becomes a very serious snowball effect when we get into the second and most definitely into the third round where mechanics will probably break down due to lack of oxygen.

As athletes we have our aerobic capacities (measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use) and an anaerobic capacity (basically how long until muscle failure). Identifying when muscular fatigue/failure sets in is very easy to identify. That last set of back squats that I couldn’t lift or the 5th set of tabata push ups when my arms gave out on me, etc.. It’s harder to know where the “wall” is for our aerobic threshold but we can see the markers when we slowly start being unable to adequately control our breathing patterns. As a CrossFitter, ideally both your aerobic and anaerobic capacities would be very similar because you have been training constantly varied, functional movements at high intensities. However, with the current state of biasing weightlifting we are seeing that athlete’s aerobic capacity is dwarfed by their anaerobic, but why is this bad? Let’s say that your aerobic capacity falls at 140 heartbeats per minute, anaerobic is at 150 and max heart rate is 180. Once you reach 140 beats per minute, and find that you can no longer control your breathing, it no longer matters what your anaerobic capacity is because your heart rate has jumped up to it’s absolute max. Which is going to put you in that familiar position of hands on your knees trying to catch your breath.

The idea of specific running program has been on my mind ever since watching the 2013 CrossFit games when Jason Khalipa, who was notorious for hating endurance events, absolutely demolished the field in longer events that on paper he should not have done well in. It would later come out that he had hired an endurance coach. With this in mind I am excited to announce that CFG will be starting an endurance club! So, why should a running program be introduced to CrossFitters?

Number 1, the ability to build the aerobic base by expanding your lung capacity.
Number 2, it could greatly help you mechanically in running and in breathing.
And Number 3, which just might be the most significant of all, learning how to pace.
In the endurance club you will be taught how pace everything from sprints to longer runs – which in turn directly translates to short and long workouts in CrossFit. The programming is going to be done by NorCal CrossFit’s endurance coach Chris Hinshaw! Mr. Hinshaw might sound familiar to you if you follow the CrossFit games, the list of athletes he trains is staggering and includes – Rich Froning JR, Jason Khalipa, Katrin Davidsdottir, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and Matt Fraser, just to name a few. His programming will definitely take those who are willing to the next level in their CrossFit journey.

- Coach Tanner.