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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 08-04-2007, 06:43 PM   #1
Jorge Javier Wilsterman
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I recently played a 4 hour tennis match in a league that I compete in. The match was played in the middle of the afternoon in 95 degree heat.

How did my fitness "respond"?
The first three hours, no problems. Was quick to react to balls, running balls down side to side, felt that nice burst from the legs you get from all the deadlifting, jerks, etc. You really can see the payoffs in a long point with lots of running 'cause when you stop, you are not out of breath and can continue as if nothing just happened.

After the 3 hour mark, however, I ran out of gas. Strength level, reaction time, speed all decreased significantly. Mind you I was drinking fluids (water, powerade) throughout the match and even ate a banana. Shortly afterwards, cramping in the legs ensued.

So, was this just a failure in the oxidative pathway ("the third pathway")? If I understand correctly, Crossfit helps you with the first two (phosphagen and glycolitic pathways) and not with the third.

Is there anything that can be done to avoid this happening again? I'd be interested if anyone has had similar issues.
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Old 08-04-2007, 07:03 PM   #2
Robert Olajos
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Read the trial issue of the CF Journal. It's on the left hand side of To quote:

Crossfit’s Third Fitness Standard
There are three metabolic pathways that provide the energy for all human action. These “metabolic engines” are known as the phosphagen
pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway. The first, the phosphagen, dominates the highest-powered activities, those that last less than about ten seconds. The second pathway, the glycolytic, dominates moderate-powered activities, those that last up to several minutes. The third pathway, the oxidative, dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes.
Here’s an excellent reference for additional information: l
Total fitness, the fitness that CrossFit promotes and develops, requires competency and training in each of these three pathways or engines. Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning or “cardio” that we do at CrossFit.
Favoring one or two to the exclusion of the others and not recognizing the impact of excessive training in the oxidative pathway are arguably the two most common faults in fitness training. More on that later.
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Old 08-04-2007, 08:57 PM   #3
Brad Davis
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Jorge, you might read Friel and Cordain's recommendations for eating during exercise in The Paleo Diet for Athletes. I think they have specific recommendations for situations like that. I don't know if your water+powerade+banana is a good approach or not. It sure sounds like more of an issue with this than fitness though, in my amateur opinion.
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:40 PM   #4
Veronica Carpenter
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I agree with Brad. This is probably a case of inadequate fueling maybe before and definitely during competition.
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:51 PM   #5
Steven Low
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Could be inadequate fueling.

Or it could be inadequate oxidative stress in which I would have to say that you need to intensify your WODS if they are getting too easy. Increase the weights above what is posted. :-)
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Old 08-05-2007, 12:35 AM   #6
Lincoln Brigham
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Fitness in the oxidative pathway does not assist with strength, reaction time, or speed.

I had a vivid experience with this in college. Playing intramural soccer, one of my team mates was on the cross country team. His idea of running intervals was 5 one-mile runs at a 5:00 pace with a minute rest in between. My workouts consisted primarily of playing pick-up games of basketball. A long run for me was measured in yards, for him it was 18 miles. Playing soccer he was constantly gassed, bent over with his hands on his knees saying, "I thought I was in shape for running?" He was fit in the third pathway but not in the first and second.
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Old 08-05-2007, 01:25 AM   #7
Chris Wyant
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I have been in the same boat (no pun to be intended) that Lincoln has described. For crew I am a long distance guy - I can hold a pace for what I do for 10kilometers for 45 kilometers. You would think that I would be able to go slightly faster in the 10k but I just get gassed.

As others have said, it most likely has to do with your diet as well as your metabolic pathways.
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:24 AM   #8
Corey Duvall
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To me it sounds like a fueling issue before and during the match. I have not read any scientific research along the lines of what I'm about to say, but it is my intuitive understanding of the three pathways and how they're worked with crossfit.

When doing highly intensive work the phosphagen and glycolytic pathways are stressed. The muscles burn energy, breakdown glycogen stores (sugars). Following the intense work the body then needs to restore the glycogen levels (higher than before) and rebuild muscle fibers and enzymes. This is when the oxidative pathways is stressed. The theory has been that any work done over a few minutes uses the oxidative pathway but that does not mean that the oxidative pathway is used solely. At an instantaneous moment, sprinting from one side to the other to hit that shot, they phosphagen and glycolytic pathways are utilized, and immediately following the point the oxidative pathway works to restore what was lost and this process is repeated as long as work is being done and fuel is present to be used. You cannot say that crossfit does not work the oxidative pathway. I would say that your training is right on point, as evidenced by your abilities for the beginning of the match. What you now must do is learn when, what, and how to get fuel into your body during your matches. Good luck with your work, you've got a physiologically sound training method; use it to your advantage.

If anyone has links, references or understandings in support of or refuting my beliefs here please let me know. I'd appreciate it.
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Old 08-06-2007, 06:30 AM   #9
Craig Van De Walker
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Could this be what runners describe as "bonking" "hitting the wall"?

If so my understanding is you might be more dependent on carbs than fats and if I remember correctly about 3 hours or so is about the carb supply a person has available.

The other possibility is that despite your fluid intake you still got dehydrated. It really is hard to keep up with fluids during the conditions you describe!
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Old 08-06-2007, 07:31 AM   #10
Gant Grimes
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Yeah, it sounds like he bonked. When I mountain bike, I start taking in electrolytes after 30 minutes, and I take in food after an hour (and every hour after that). I wouldn't do an event over a hours without cytomax, ham sandwiches, Cliff bars, and gel packs.
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