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Old 05-02-2010, 07:15 PM   #1
Stephanie Long
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Faster Half Marathon

Hi guys!

I'm new to Crossfit and new to the forum. I started doing Crossfit at the first of January, and I really love it. I only go once a week, but I'm about to increase to twice a week. I love being stronger, and feeling physically capable in ways I never have before.

Most of my athletic background is distance running. Last year, I entered a half marathon trail race. I wrote my own training program (these were the pre-Crossfit days), and had great results. I won the race and turned in a 1:33 time.

I want to do another half marathon this year. I love Crossfit, but I don't see it making me a faster half marathoner. I love the Crossfit philosophy of being generally very good at many things, but not great at any one specific thing; however, in this case, I want to turn in a "great" half marathon time. I want to go sub-1:30.

Should I sideline Crossfit while I train? Or cut back? I looked at Crossfit Endurance, but their focus seems to be on "finishing" or "finishing well." I'm past that -- I want to win again.

Thoughts? Experiences? Help?

Thanks!
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Old 05-02-2010, 07:24 PM   #2
Stephanie Long
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Re: Faster Half Marathon

Here, let me give you an idea of what I did to train before -- maybe there's something I can sub out for Crossfit, or perhaps someone will see a gap that can be better filled.

Monday - Spin class (a supertough one, taught by an ex pro mtn biker)
Tuesday - Off or light miles
Wednesday - Speed work on the track
Thursday - 5-7 miles
Friday - Off or light miles
Saturday - Long run (started at 6 miles, built to 13)
Sunday - Mountain bike ride (2-3 hours)

I think I may have used the fitness center at my apartment complex maybe 5 times throughout the whole 3 months of training. Hahaha... Doing bicep curls and lat pulls was so un-motivating.

I dropped a lot of weight, and I really think that helped my speed. I think I was just under 120 lbs (5'9", 35 years old). With Crossfit, I'm almost 125 now, yay! Muscle mass!

Anyway, I'd love any help or comments anyone is willing to provide.
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Old 05-02-2010, 07:56 PM   #3
Nic Kirkland
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Re: Faster Half Marathon

I just finished a CrossFit Endurance cert, so my 2 cents is based on that.

I think CFE can definitely help you. I don't know where you got that CFE is only for finishing or finishing well. It is training for endurance athletes with a much lower volume. It is definitely counter-culture to the popular think of the endurance community. Once you have an aerobic base you do not need to beat it into submission. Rather you need to work your body in other ways that won't flood your system with cortisol and wear you down as all that long cardio will. Not to mention the long term health benefits associated with a well-rounded training program.

Training for a half-marathon does not require a ton of specialization, especially since you have trained for and completed one already. I would prescribe distance runs of no more than 15K (9.3 miles) and that distance no more than once in the train-up to your race.

How long do you have to train for the event?

Here's a general outline of what I would prescribe you:

In order for CFE's program to truly be effective you have to do CF regularly- 4x week minimum.

M- CF WOD/CFE Interval workout
Tu- Heavy CF WOD
W-Off
Th- CF WOD/CFE Interval workout
F- CF WOD
Sa- CFE Time Trial/Tempo run
Su- Off

CF WOD just means a standard strength and conditioning metcon, MP, at your local affiliate, from CFE, or your preferred source . I would shy away from excessive running in this WOD. Helen is ok. Run 5K or Murph is not.

CFE interval WOD is exactly what it sounds like. Look at the previous week of CFE endurance WOD's. Pick out one of the intervals (basically any CFE WOD that is not a time trial or tempo). These intervals are hard, but they need to be consistent like they say on their site. So if it's 5x800, you need to hold the same pace plus or minus 5 seconds over each interval. That means you do not go and set a PR at 2:30 on the first one and then work down to 3:30 on the last one. Run at 3:00 (or whatever pace you can hold) for all of them. Then, next time around, cut that by 2 seconds. Each week don't do the same kind of intervals. i.e. don't do 8x200 one day and 5x800 the other day. Do one of their Tabata's or time-based intervals (i.e. 6 on, 3 off) or other interval style workouts.

Heavy CF WOD means a harder CF WOD day. Either include some extra strength work before hand (back squats or deadlifts are great) or pick a hard/heavy metcon.

CFE Time Trial/Tempo run- rotate these, so 1 week you do a time trial, 1 week you do a tempo run. Again look at the past week of CFE and pick one of the TT/tempo WODs. Rotate between the SC and LC. Time trials are all out efforts for that distance. Tempo runs are at a slightly easier pace. (Normally they prescribe 80-90% rate of perceived exertion. So if you normally run a 5K at a 20:00 pace, run a 5K tempo run at a ~22:00 pace).

You can move these days around depending on your schedule, but get them all in each week. If you start feeling beat down, the first workout I would delete in a week would be the 2nd CFE interval workout. Definitely do not skimp on your strength and conditioning via the CF WOD's.

It might be scary to you doing so little volume, especially when you are used to training so much. There are guys stepping up to the line on 100 mile races having done nothing longer than 13.1 miles (and even that distance rather infrequently) and they are performing extremely well with ~10 hours/week of training (strength and conditioning and endurance combined).

You did really well on the last half you did and it sounds like you are overtrained in the aerobic domain. You will not lose your base of aerobic conditioning doing so much anaerobic. On the contrary this will help you break through that aerobic plateau that you may have reached by training those grossly undertrained energy pathways. That's where you have the most to gain. Not to mention the benefits I mentioned of less cortisol and inflammation with so much less volume.

Sorry if this is not what you want to hear, but this is a CrossFit forum. You will not find many people who will endorse a LSD, high volume training program here. I really believe that if you dial in your nutrition and stick with the program you will see some serious results.
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Last edited by Nic Kirkland : 05-02-2010 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 05-02-2010, 08:31 PM   #4
Stephanie Long
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Re: Faster Half Marathon

Awesome! Thanks so much for your reply.

You're right about several things. The first is that I am probably overtrained as far as cardio. My lungs never get tired. Why beat that dead horse? You're also right that at higher mileage like conventional wisdom prescribes, I get really beat down. I feel like my legs are going to break off.

I like what you've laid out. Maybe I got the wrong idea from the Crossfit Endurance web site. I'll take a look at more of their workouts.

Do you recommend different intervals for different race distances? A 5k is pretty different from a half marathon. I would imagine that their respective training would be different? Or would that be less "per workout" and more "per week?"

I have 3 months to train for my next half.

Thanks so much! I really appreciate your response.
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Old 05-02-2010, 08:59 PM   #5
Nic Kirkland
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Re: Faster Half Marathon

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Originally Posted by Stephanie Long View Post
Do you recommend different intervals for different race distances? A 5k is pretty different from a half marathon. I would imagine that their respective training would be different? Or would that be less "per workout" and more "per week?"

I have 3 months to train for my next half.
Intervals are normally the same distance/time prescription regardless of event. What I was saying about variety comes in there. Do 100's one week and 800's the next. There is definitely value in both, no matter the distance you are training for.

There are several kinds of different intervals they regularly prescribe. Mix up your choices week to week to get maximum benefit. Basically any endurance workout that is not a tempo or a time trial on their site is an interval.

The tempo/time trials will often offer different lengths depending on your goal. For instance, the CFE Endurance WOD for Sunday 2 MAY 2010 is a Tempo run. Sometimes however they just give a blanket workout of run 10K or run 40 minutes. I recommend that you pick from either the SC or LC (short course or long course, as opposed to Ultra Course), which for that Sunday happens to be 5K or 8K. If you're training for a 5K, honestly you do not need to do very much volume of running. Yes, I would say that for a 5K you could easily get away with 2x week endurance workouts in supplement to 4-5x week CF WOD's. A 5K is much, much close to the GPP offered by CF than a half marathon.

The SC is for events <2 hours and the LC >2 hours. Although your last time was well within the SC category, it's my personal belief that a half marathon is at least somewhat in the grey area between the two categories and so it does not hurt to alternate your training between the two categories.
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:04 PM   #6
Stephanie Long
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Re: Faster Half Marathon

You so rule.

Okay, last question, and then I'll do a bunch of research. What about building/peaking/periodization? Is this accomplished by the number of CF and CFE workouts I do per week? Or is that not part of the Crossfit program?
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:35 PM   #7
Nic Kirkland
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Re: Faster Half Marathon

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephanie Long View Post
You so rule.

Okay, last question, and then I'll do a bunch of research. What about building/peaking/periodization? Is this accomplished by the number of CF and CFE workouts I do per week? Or is that not part of the Crossfit program?
Hold yourself to faster times on intervals/TT's and longer distances on time-based runs. Or scale down the rest.

So this week you run 5x800 with 3 minutes rest. You do them all within 5 seconds of 3:00.

Next time you do the same workout (which should be 2 weeks or more), do it with 2 or 2.5 minutes rest, but same pace. Continue to decrease rest until the pace becomes unsustainable. At that point, back the rest up to 3 minutes and cut your pace down to 2:55 or 2:50.

That's just one example, but gives you an idea of the building as it is incorporated in CFE. Otherwise, no, there's no periodization, this program keeps the same consistent (relatively low compared to traditional programs) amount of volume throughout your training. The intensity is what increases, in all of your efforts.

The only trend in programming that I recommend focusing more on and building up your strength and conditioning base early on; say for the next 6 weeks do more heavy CF WOD's/strength training and maybe only 2x endurance WOD's/week, then in the 6 weeks leading up to the race hit the endurance WOD's 3x week and taper off the last week by doing a little less volume and intensity leading up to the race.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:09 AM   #8
Josh Groves
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Re: Faster Half Marathon

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephanie Long View Post
You so rule.

Okay, last question, and then I'll do a bunch of research. What about building/peaking/periodization? Is this accomplished by the number of CF and CFE workouts I do per week? Or is that not part of the Crossfit program?
Here's a couple research articles that examine the effects of strength training on running efficiency.

Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power (WFS)

Effects of concurrent endurance and strength training on running economy and VO2 Kinetics (WFS)

Concurrent Endurance and Explosive Type Strength Training Improves Neuromuscular and Anaerobic Characteristics in Young Distance Runners (WFS)

These studies are just a couple of examples. The point I'm trying to make is that by reducing your training volume and increasing intensity, you can create greater responses in training adaptations. The increased strength increases your efficiency which helps reduce the risk of injury and reduces overall fatigue. One of the things that is key though is that you KEEP THE VOLUME IN CHECK. If you're going to do the CFE programming, you have to stick with it. Do not say, "It's a beautiful rest day, I think I'll go for a leisurely 5k." You absolutely must stick with the programming.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:30 AM   #9
Eric R Cohen
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Re: Faster Half Marathon

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Originally Posted by Josh Groves View Post
Here's a couple research articles that examine the effects of strength training on running efficiency.

Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power (WFS)

Effects of concurrent endurance and strength training on running economy and VO2 Kinetics (WFS)

Concurrent Endurance and Explosive Type Strength Training Improves Neuromuscular and Anaerobic Characteristics in Young Distance Runners (WFS)

These studies are just a couple of examples. The point I'm trying to make is that by reducing your training volume and increasing intensity, you can create greater responses in training adaptations. The increased strength increases your efficiency which helps reduce the risk of injury and reduces overall fatigue. One of the things that is key though is that you KEEP THE VOLUME IN CHECK. If you're going to do the CFE programming, you have to stick with it. Do not say, "It's a beautiful rest day, I think I'll go for a leisurely 5k." You absolutely must stick with the programming.
You had me until the last line. Anytime someone says "You absolutely must..." do anything, my BS meter goes way up.
To the OP, that being said, I throw in CFE workouts to mainly mainpage programming (with a bit of sealfit work capacity thrown it too) and have enjoyed the results. Recently just missed a 5K overall PR on a hilly twisty course. Don't be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you. I'm sure you'll find some mix of CF and CFE will be a great way to achieve your goals.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:57 AM   #10
Josh Groves
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Re: Faster Half Marathon

Here, I'll revise that last sentence for you:

If you do extra training on your rest days because you are just feeling good, you will likely suffer in your ability to maintain the proper intensity in your programmed training which will potentially lead to over-training or reduced gains in performance.
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