Saturday morning I received a text message asking if I could run the rock and roll half marathon (13.1 miles) with a friend as her husband wasn’t going to be able to make it. After a brief moment, I thought challenge – wait for it – accepted!
Let’s review why I would accept such an invitation. I don’t run long distances as I personally find running a bit boring. While I had not trained for this race, I believe CrossFit prepares you for almost anything life can throw at you – the unknown and unknowable. This race wouldn’t be any different, just another workout of the day (WOD). The CrossFit prescription is “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement”. They say that preparation for random physical challenges is at odds with fixed, predictable, and routine regimens. This was most definitely a random physical challenge as the last time I ran a distance more than 1 mile was April 5th when I joined my wife for the PurpleStride 5K; it took me 23 minutes and 40 seconds. By comparison, CrossFit workouts are typically less than 20 minutes.
Aerobic conditioning, such as running (more than 20 minutes), swimming and cycling allow us to exert moderate to low power output over extended periods of time. The benefits are increased cardiovascular function and fat loss, but excessive aerobic training may also produce a decrease in muscle mass, strength, speed and power. Anaerobic activity also benefits cardiovascular function and decreases body fat. Anaerobic activity is unique in its capacity to dramatically improve power, speed, strength, and muscle mass. Anaerobic conditioning allows us to exert tremendous forces over a very brief time. Perhaps the aspect of anaerobic conditioning that bears greatest consideration is that anaerobic conditioning will not adversely affect aerobic capacity! In fact, properly structured, anaerobic activity can be used to develop a very high level of aerobic fitness without the muscle wasting consistent with high volume aerobic exercise! To read more, check out: https://www.crossfit.com/cf-download/Foundations.pdf
With that methodology in mind, I wanted to test two things:
1. Could I run 13.1 miles?
2. Could I recover quickly?
Completing one without the other would not be a success. A lot of people with a high threshold for pain and enough time can complete a half marathon. I set out to prove I could run it at a relatively fast pace and get back to training as usual the next day. I’m happy to report that this stuff (CrossFit) works! The relatively fast pace for me was going to be a sustained sub 10-minute mile. After settling in to about a 9:30/mile pace for the first half, I ended up finishing in 2:09:15 – 1944 out of 7752 runners. Since this was my first time running more than 8 miles in my life (during high school cross country in the soccer off-season – I’ll be 38 in two weeks), every mile beyond that was a personal record. Monday I did a short recovery workout and today’s workout just happens to be another test of fitness: “Grace” – 30 Clean and Jerks (135lbs) for time. Come on in to CrossFit Reanimated and join me. 3-2-1 Go!
Dan Benson, Co-Owner CrossFit Reanimated