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Jared Einstein 11-02-2007 07:33 AM

Crossfit and Triathlons
Hi all. I am a newcomer to the message boards, but have been an advocate of crossfit for something like 4 years now. Am getting certified in Pittsburgh in 2 weeks. VERY excited!!!

First my question, then some background. It is currently the "off-season" and am getting ready for next year's triathlon season. The goal is to complete a half ironman in '08 and a full ironman in '09. I have not yet used any crossfit with my training, but would REALLY like to. What would be the best structure for this type of training. WODs/week? Swim number of times/distance per week? Bike number of times/distance per week? Run number of times/distance per week?

I would also like to add that I have already read a lot of what Eugene Allen has to say on this subject, but was hoping for some answers to my specific situation.

Now for some, a lot, of background. Almost exactly one year ago, I decided that endurance sports is what I was going to take a shot at. Before that it was Rugby and Soccer, and I was doing crossfit fairly regularly to supplement that. It was obviously working out beautifully. But when I started endurance training, everything I read did not have any real strength training in it, and I ended up stopping crossfit. I love crossfit and squeezed a workout or 2 in every once in a while, but most endurance info I read advised against it. Everything is supposed to just be LSD (long slow distance).
I started last November running 3-5 miles with a long run on the weekends, 4 days/week. And I worked my way up to completing my first marathon in April. I was not exactly breaking any records, but I finished (4:10). In January I had decided I would segway this training into triathlons. So I bought a bike and trainer and was riding once a week just to get on it during those cold months. I also started in a master's swim class, which met 3 times/week at the local YMCA in March. So when I finished the marathon then I started to ramp up the biking. Still without any crossfit. I then completed a spring distance in June and another one in July. Then in August, 2 of my friends and I road the length of NJ over 3 days and on the 4th day, I road down into Maryland, for a 303 mile ride over 4 days. Unfortunately I was the least prepared, but I finished. Then in September I did an Olympic distance tri. And just this past weekend I completed the Marine Corps Marathon (running with family in 4:30).
My swim training has been based on Total Immersion. My bike training is typically done at around 85 rpm, while trying to keep HR in aerobic zone. My run training is all heart rate based in aerobic zone (under 155bpm), and learned from Chi Running (basically the same as Pose). I am an information wh**e. So I like to think that I am taking the correct information from each sport and putting it together properly with an average of 3 times per week of each sport. I am not trying to only do crossfit. I do realize that endurance events require endurance training, which I do not have a problem with and am comfortable doing. But I feel as though strength training (crossfit), has its role with the LSD, which is basically all I have been doing for the past year, but I am just not sure how. My body composition has def changed, and I have lost some functionality because of this. This is where I want crossfit to come in. Again, I am just not sure where where and how crossfit should fit in, or what the proportions should be. How many WODs should I be doing per week? How many LSDs of each sport should I be doing in conjunction with this?

Any insight is much appreciated. Thank you all for your time and consideration.

Tim Donahey 11-04-2007 06:35 AM

Re: Crossfit and Triathlons
If you look at the bottom of the page, you'll see some links there. The search function will also yield many insightful results.

Eugene R. Allen 11-04-2007 03:30 PM

Re: Crossfit and Triathlons
The main point I have tried to get across regarding the inclusion of CF with triathlon training is that they have different (some might say opposite) goals. For sprint (.5 mi swim, 13 mi bike, 3 mi run) or Olympic (.92 mi swim, 24.8 mi bike, 6.2 mi run) distance races the applicability of CrossFit's very intense training is a great fit. For long (1.2, 56, 13.1) and ultra (2.4, 112, 26.2) course racing the fit is not a particularly good one. When you go long you have to condition your body to moderate levels of effort from 5 or 6 hours for the half iron to 11 or more hours for the full course race. Fran, Cindy and the other girls will not serve you well in this endeavor.

I don't suggest for a moment that you give up CrossFit training, I think that would be a mistake. But it is also a mistake to hammer out an 8:30 Helen and think that is going to serve you well during 11 or 12 or more hours of ultra course racing. Your overall strength will deteriorate the more you apply yourself to triathlon or marathon training. The longer you go, the weaker you'll get. The better you want to do in going long, the more you have to apply yourself to going long and that, sadly, means a lot of LSD. Those events are aerobic and require aerobic EFFICIENCY not anaerobic power.

I have raced for 15 years or so and have gotten the ultra and long course stuff out of my system. I race occasionally in multi day adventure races just because I enjoy the struggle, but mostly I am sticking to sprints and Olympic distance racing because it does not conflict with CrossFit.

Jared Einstein 11-05-2007 07:10 AM

Re: Crossfit and Triathlons
Eugene, having read most of your posts, that is definitely what I got out of it. I realize that to be the best that I can be at half/full ironman and marathons, crossfit is not going to be the best thing for me. To be the best I can be at these things requires a lot of LSD, and will ultimately result in loss of strength from this type of training. And as a consequence, I will not be the best that I can be at crossfit with this loss in strength. I was looking more for how you would balance these 2 things out. I would like to continue and train for both, and while I may not end up being the best at either one, I would really like to continue doing both. Maybe that sounds silly, but I really don't want to give up either one at this time. So any suggestions would help.

And lets say that I was going to stick to Sprint or Olympic distance. What would your suggestions be on using crossfit for that? Only crossfit? How much biking or running or swimming would I incorporate with crossfit for optimal performance?

Eugene R. Allen 11-06-2007 08:48 AM

Re: Crossfit and Triathlons
The CrossFit pillars of Functionality, Intensity and Variety apply fairly well to the Olympic and Sprint distances...though the variety part is limited to three things every time you race and train. At these short distances you can now have a CrossFitesque workout with swimming as you have seen on the website or make up your own. You can go time trial 10 miles and then do one of the girls and then do another time trial. The running combinations are obvious. You can cut down the 3 x per sport per week to two...except for the swimming. Unless your a stellar swimmer, keep working on that. Be a CrossFitter that does triathlons rather than vice versa and I think you will be better off.

Jared Einstein 11-06-2007 08:53 AM

Re: Crossfit and Triathlons
Yes, exactly, a crossfitter that does triathlons is exactly where I want to be. Thank you very much for your help Eugene. Although exciting because the endurance stuff is all new, I just really missed crossfit. That is def the solution I was going for, and with your suggestions of those couple of types of workouts, I can hopefully hit it all pretty hard!!

Thanks again.

Eugene R. Allen 11-06-2007 07:25 PM

Re: Crossfit and Triathlons
Jared - I think you will be better served with this course...unless you just have your heart set, from an accomplishment point of view, on having done an Ironman distance race. There is a great deal of commitment to training for a 140.6 mile race. This commitment comes in the form of time and effort for the most part because you just have to have 4,000 to 6,000 meters of swimming 3 or 4 times a week, 3 or 4 runs with one of them, at least one of them over an hour long and several hundred miles of biking a week. That is a boatload of training time. Your wife and family have to be pretty understanding of your training needs in order to make this work. The beauty of CrossFit is the speed with which you can build superior overall fitness. The beauty of the Olympic and sprint distance races is that they can be an expression of your CrossFit prowess...the long and ultra courses are not.

There are lots and lots of resources out there for triathlon training. Checkout for starters and then just Google triathlon and find more. Phil Maffetone, Dave Scott, Jack Daniels, Rick Niles and Troy Jacobson are some authors you should check out. Spinervals by Troy Jacobson rock. If you have ugly winters a Computrainer and the software from will do wonders for your cycling. True makes great treadmills. Polar is your best bet for heart rate monitors. For running check out and Total Immersion is the way to go for swimming.

Jared Einstein 11-06-2007 08:01 PM

Re: Crossfit and Triathlons
The ironman was more for the the accomplishment to be honest, but I just didn't want to give up crossfit to do it. I am only 24 and have been able to make some time already over the past year for like 6-8 hours per week. I unfortunately do understand the implications of training for an ironman, and to accomplish that, I am thinking about making that sacrifice. I know it would be more training than I have done over the past year, but again, a sacrifice I think I would be willing to make for the accomplishment. I do think that sprint and olympic are what I would like to pursue in the longterm, but want to try the ironman while I have the time and don't have the family or any other more important obligations.

Yeah, I have done a lot of research on the topics. I was just trying to put crossfit in, and figure out if it were possible. I already belong to slowtwitch. I have Joe Friel's Triathlon Training Bible (although a bunch of it is over my head). I have a Cyclops Fluid2 trainer. I hate do treadmills, but I ran straight through the winter last year, rain snow or shine. I like it way better. And I invested in a Garmin Forerunner 305 for my HR monitor. I also have done quite a bit of reading on heart rate, aerobic training. Please, if you have some more info or some more book recommendations for me to read, pass them my way. I am always looking for more stuff, but I have scratched the surface and have a whole bunch of info from my research over the past year. I also just got done with the book "Tri Power" by Paul Frediani and William Smith. They talk about the advantages of strength training for the triathlete. The ideas are simple and the benefits of the dynamic aspects are obvious for a crossfiter to see, which is ultimately where this question stemmed from. I know that some strength training can be helpful for any distance triathlete, but I also understand that when training for an ironman you have to really really put in the LSD to compete, so you don't want strength training to cut into that too much. So where can strength training (crossfit) fit in there? Once a week, twice a week? Never, only do it for sprint or olympic?

Eugene R. Allen 11-06-2007 10:15 PM

Re: Crossfit and Triathlons
Jared you are really on it. I am completely understanding of your want/need to do a full Ironman and to thus BE an Ironman. It is truly a magnificent accomplishment that is yours forever. I did the Vineman in Santa Rosa, California twice and I was in my 40's when I did them. Late bloomer. You are wise to do it while you are young. You need to spend a year or two with this quest and work your way though the shorter races, do a couple half Iron races, experiece Wildflower, do Alcatraz and perhaps Pacific Crest or some other long course races in your area and then throw down for the ultra at a course of your choosing. It is tough commitment of time, money and energy but is something you will treasure forever.

You have clearly prepared yourself well, are reading the right things and are aware of what this endeavor will take. Joe Friel's book is great and you will also be interested in books by Phil Maffetone, Rick Niles and the running coach Jack Daniels.

How much CF you should be doing is dependent upon what kind of endurance base you have and what experience you have in triathlon. What race distances have you done? I see that you have done a lot of reading on the topic, have you hammered a hard brick? Go out and do a 10 mile time trial on your bike, ride that 10 miles as fast as you can. Then hop off your bike and run a mile as fast as you can. The bike/run brick is one of the signature workouts you need to master as a triathlete. My first advice is that you stop reading, and go out and swim/bike/run in order to put what you've learned into some sort of experiential context. Maybe even find a late season race or get involved in cyclocross.

Got a bike? We can have long and detailed discussions on pedal systems, bike materials, components, aero bars, drink systems, helmets, clincher vs tubular tires, crank arm lengths, shoes, 650 vs 700c, bar ends vs STI...the list goes on. I have a Kestrel KM40, a Softride Rocket TT and a Litespeed Vortex. I like bikes. Get a good ride, you must not skimp here. Fit is everything.

I'm running off at the fingers here.

Go do a brick and get back to me.


Jared Einstein 11-07-2007 05:48 AM

Re: Crossfit and Triathlons
There is a little more detail as to my season up in my first post, but the short is that I just started training last november, and the reading all happened while i was training. i figured if i was going to train i might as well do it right. and considering that i would be doing it for months and months, it was not that hard to get some reading in to get the right training in. and please, i have to stop myself everytime i post to this thread because i just get going and type so much. and your ideas are def appreciated, so keep it comin. dont hold back.

i have definitely done some bricks. i read in some of your other threads to try and do a mile run after basically every bike. i do not run after every bike session, but after reading your threads i definitely plan on it in the future. i have done a bunch of bricks during the course of my season last year, and to be totally honest, the guy that i was training with was warning me about how horrible the run was going to be after biking. then we did a brick for the first time. he hated it and felt very awkward. and not that i felt awesome, but i have run half mile repeats after cleans and thrusters. my legs were kind of ready for it from crossfit, which was really cool.

as far as what i have done for races. i finished 2 sprint distance and an olympic this year. and like i said, the reading was more while i was training and racing, rather than only a prep. i spent a lot of time training last year (not as much as I am going to have to for an ironman), but a lot nonetheless. i am still in a master's swim program 3 times/week right now, as well as some crossfit and a bit of running/riding the bike for this winter maintenance period.

i do have a bike, but not a tri bike yet. last january, before i knew if i really wanted to go crazy and spend so much money on a sport specific bike like that, i just got a regular road bike, a Specialized Allez Elite. It has certainly served me well. After my first sprint, i went out and got some clip on aerobars, which have also come in very handy. we have a good bike shop about 5 miles away from me, which is nice. so i was able to be fit properly and bring it in there if i ever feel like something is off or have any problems. i am sure they all hide when i walk in the door. but as far as tri bikes go, i am thinking that my next bike, which i will hopefully get this spring, will be a QR Seduza. i already talked to the bike shop and they will def be able to fit me for it once i get it. I can get a sweet deal through work (the government) so that is most likely what I am going to do. Then of course all the gadgets/upgrades to go along with it, wheels, tires, drink systems... But like I said, my bike now has gotten me a long way. It got me through my 303 mile, 4 day ride this summer, which was quite the experience. Went from the northern point of NJ to the southern most point of NJ, then took the ferry across to delaware for another 50 miles into maryland. And that was just to get down to the beach to go on vacation for 2 weeks with the family.

well now i was running off at the fingers. hopefully that gives you even more insight into not just the research, but the training and races that I have put in as well. you can also look back at my first post, which has even more details about that.

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