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

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Old 01-08-2011, 07:55 AM   #1
Carl Amolat
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Why the 5K?

Just out of curiousity why does CrossFit use running 5Ks periodically as a metric for measuring one's GPP? By CrossFit I'm referring to the main page not so much to endurance focused affiliates such as CrossFit Endurance.

I'm curious as to the reason behind it because I've been asked that by a friend considering CrossFit and said I'd get back to him. I would imagine because races longer than 5Ks one needs specialized run focused training for at least six to twelve weeks but one can achieve good 5K times utilizing the GPP principles of CrossFit but I'm uncertain.
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Old 01-08-2011, 08:53 AM   #2
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Why the 5K?

It's a good, moderate distance to measure someone's capacity in the oxidative pathway, and most people who aren't already running fast times should see 5K improvements as they get better in the phosphagenic and glycolytic pathways through normal WODs. Occasionally you'll see a 10K or 15K on the mainpage, but I guess the programmers decided that runs longer than 5Ks aren't really worth the return on investment for general population.

I've run a ~19:00 5K doing nothing but CF.com workouts and without having a strong running background--to get any faster I'd probably need some specific running programming--but I think that proves the GPP point.
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Old 01-08-2011, 10:02 AM   #3
Brian Bedell
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Re: Why the 5K?

I'm sorry, but is it not plainly obvious that the 5k run is a common benchmark of fitness, charity races, local runs, sprint tri's, etc?

Or are you looking for a more crossfit-y science-y explanation of aerobic pathways, etc? This was all reviewed quite heavily in a recent thread about 21-15-9 rep schemes.
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Old 01-08-2011, 02:06 PM   #4
David Meverden
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Re: Why the 5K?

The 5k has a lot of things going for it:

1) As Brian said it's widely recognized.
2) Five is a nice round number that appeals to us five fingered humans.
3) A 5k doesn't take that long.
4) IMO in order to be truly fit you have to be able to travel somewhere efficiently. I think it's a fundamental human physical ability. What is a simpler test of fitness than one kid yelling to another "I'll race you!". This rational, of course, can also be applied to 40 yard or 100m dash, which is conspicuously absent.
5) It's a pretty good test of distance running ability.


I'll elaborate on #5 since that seems to be at the heart of your question. A 10k is also a good test of aerobic capacity and running ability. So is a 15k. But imagine the following scenario. You take 1000 people of all fitness abilities; couch potatoes, to grannies, to professional athletes. Have them all run/walk 5k, and then rank them by their speed. Now have them travel 20k, or more, and rank them by their speed. How do you think the lists would compare? I'm willing to wager that the ranking would be nearly identical (except for the increased drop out race due to injuries). The 16 minute 5k track athlete will still beat the 18 minute 5k soccer player and they'll both still beat the 24 minute football player no matter how much longer we make the race. So why do a longer race? Now, a marathon specialist might pull forward a few spots as you make the race longer, but that is beside the point since we are trying to measure GPP and aren't bother by specialists beating us at their specialties.

If you start reducing the length of the race I don't think the results would be as consistent, though I don't know at what distance the results would start scrambling. Switching to a 400m run would almost certainly mix up the rankings. Going to a 40 yard dash would completely scramble the rankings.
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Old 01-08-2011, 02:09 PM   #5
Steven Low
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Re: Why the 5K?

5k results are also something like 85-90% predictive of 10k, half marathon, and marathon so.... if you want to test oxidative pathway it's good without spending so much time doing it
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Old 01-08-2011, 08:12 PM   #6
Daniel Schmieding
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Re: Why the 5K?

A 5k falls within the same time domain as the many of CrossFit WODs. I would dare say every time I've "Cindy," my 5k has gotten faster.
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:03 AM   #7
Ryan Earle
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Re: Why the 5K?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Schmieding View Post
A 5k falls within the same time domain as the many of CrossFit WODs. I would dare say every time I've "Cindy," my 5k has gotten faster.
When I am doing Cindy -- I always am telling myself how much easier it would be just to run a 20 minute 5K
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Old 01-10-2011, 11:17 AM   #8
Jared Ashley
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Re: Why the 5K?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Amolat View Post
I'm curious as to the reason behind it because I've been asked that by a friend considering CrossFit and said I'd get back to him. I would imagine because races longer than 5Ks one needs specialized run focused training for at least six to twelve weeks but one can achieve good 5K times utilizing the GPP principles of CrossFit but I'm uncertain.
I agree with the rest that the 5k is long enough to be a good metabolic workout and predictive of any run over a mile or so, but short enough that people will 1) actually do it, and 2) recover quickly.

I don't think you need much or any specialized run training to do reasonably well on longer runs. My 5K pace is around 7:30 if I'm pushing it, which I'd argue is "good" but I'm sure as hell not going to win any races. I ran my first 1/2 marathon at an 8:33 pace with minimal specialty training (about 30 total miles). For both distances if I wanted to significantly reduce my times I'd have to do some specialized training. The two run lengths feel the same to me in terms of exertion, one just takes a lot longer and recovery is slower.
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:18 AM   #9
Joshua Gritton
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Re: Why the 5K?

A marathon is 26.4 miles if I remember correctly. And the 5k is used due to its relatively short distance to allow the measure of both explosive speed in the beginning followed by the ability to maintain of that speed throughout the distance. Its the same principal of Load over time by intensity. In this case the Load is moving your body weight, the time is the amount of time it takes you to move your body the distance and the intensity is the amount of effort you do to shorten the time.

I was a cross-country, track runner and am in the army so running 5k's are a breeze for me every time I see it on the main I silently thank whatever god is up there for giving me something to post a good time on haha.
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Old 01-12-2011, 10:31 AM   #10
Carl Amolat
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Re: Why the 5K?

Thanks for the explanations, I really appreciate it. I was certain 5K was intended to test oxidative pathway but didn't realize there was the explosive speed and possibly even work capacity component (insomuch as moving body weight multiple times over a distance (especially up inclines such as hills and bridges) can be classified as such).

I've seen a number of 5K/10K specific training guides in both running magazines and on book shelves in recent years and wonder if they'd be useful for CrossFit types.
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