The Agony and the Heresy

Friday, December 21, 2012



Row 500m
Olympic Squat on the Wall
T-Spine Smash
Overhead Band Distraction
Super Rack Stretch with Band

Barbell Gymnastics

20 minutes to establish a heavy, but technically sound, Clean & Jerk

Notes: This is ideally a full squat clean.


“The Chief”

5 Rounds of:
3 minute AMRAP:
3 Power Cleans (135/95/65)*
6 Push Ups
9 Squats
Rest 1 minute between rounds

*Notes: Advanced prescribed is (135/95) while Classic prescribed is (95/65).

Cool Down


Walking Lunge Zombies

The title of this post comes from a recent article in the January 2013 issue of Outside Magazine featuring Brian Mackenzie and Crossfit Endurance.  The author, Christopher Solomon, is an injured ex marathoner who decides to give CFE a shot and attempt to break a 5 year old PR in the marathon with only 3 months of training.  Like most runners, he’s extremely skeptical of this program because it flies in the face of conventional wisdom that says high mileage is the only way to train for long distances.  CFE, however, drastically reduces the mileage and replaces it with three things: speed workouts at the track, strength workouts using powerlifting and gymnastics, and general conditioning through Crossfit. The real reason, in my humble opinion, why most runners don’t agree with this program is because even though it may look easier on paper due to the low volume, it is actually much harder due to the intensity.  Most people don’t run to be fast, they run to relax and be happy.  There is also a mental factor of never going past a half marathon in training that requires a lot of trust in the program.  This perspective is summed up well by the author:

“This humbling routine continued daily for the next few weeks.  And yes, it continued to hurt.  But something else nagged me besides my hammered muscles: I missed my old, dawdling runs.  After eight hours spent staring at a computer screen, my five o’clock run is like Xanax.  By the time I walk back in the door after a good six-miler, it’s as though a bracing wind has swept my skull clean of the day’s knotty problems.  You don’t get that when you’re busting around the track beyond your lactate threshold, your vision going red around the edges.

Encouraged, I pushed through the misery, getting quicker, getting sinewy.  And then, suddenly, race week was upon me.  I still hadn’t run farther than a half marathon, though at a swifter pace.  Would 13.1 miles with the hammer down equal 26.2 miles throttled back?  I was worried.”

This article is great because it gives an authentic perspective of a runner and their doubts of the CFE program.  I recently wrote a post talking about how much I had also missed my old slow, relaxing morning runs!  The article also gives balanced arguments for both sides of the endurance training debate.  There are numerous studies, coaches, and athletes breaking the norm and advocating for high intensity and strength training.  There are just as many studies, coaches, and athletes who swear by traditional training and who say that CFE is impossible.  The article provides a fair share of evidence for both sides.

So what was the result of the authors self-experiment? A 5 minute PR after only 12 weeks of training!  Here are his takeaways:

“So did CFE deliver? Yes, mostly.  It got me to the starting line without injury.  I ran strong on a tough course.  What’s more, I’m the quickest, most bulletproof all-around athlete I’ve ever been.
Would I use CFE to train for my next race? Yes, mostly.  I’ve now incorporated some speed work and weights into my normal routine.  Next marathon, though, I’ll toss a few big runs into the mix, in a nod to conventional wisdom.”

If you haven’t noticed, that is very similar to what we have already been doing at Paradiso Crossfit with our weekly Saturday morning runs.  Our endurance program follows CFE to the letter at track night, one short interval and one long interval workout, but on the weekends we have been dabbling with long slow runs.  Part of it is due to convenience (it’s easier to run slow than fast), another part is due to conventional wisdom (it’s nice to know mentally you can go out and run far distances), and finally it is due to enjoyment (it can be very relaxing to run slow and get lost in the scenery, conversation, your thoughts, etc).  I used the word dabble because I am still very careful with long slow runs.  I believe the most important point in the whole article is “It got me to the starting line without injury…”.  With higher volume comes a much greater risk of injury, especially if your technique is unsound.  Running is one of the largest participatory sports in America, and also has one of the highest injury rates.  I have met way too many 40-something and 50-something year olds who have no cartilage in their knees and can barely walk, let alone run, because of all the pounding they did for twenty years. 

Thanks for Martina and Jerad for passing the article to me.  I will be leaving it in the office if you want to read the entire piece.  Below is the link to the CFE 12 week marathon training plan from the article, free online.  Well what do you know?…The Honda LA Marathon is exactly 12 weeks away!  If you haven’t committed yet, now is the time.  Take a look at the article, the training plan below, and our Endurance Training Blog and let me know what you think!  I love talking about our programming and seeing how it can apply to each individual.


In preparation for the New Year’s Race Half Marathon in two weeks I will be doing a 5 mile trail run on the Temescal Rivas Canyon Trail this Saturday (12/22/12) at 8am.  I’ll be meeting at Temescal Gateway park on the corner of Sunset Blvd and Temescal Canyon Rd, here.  It’s a steep trail so part of it will be hiking, not running!  Super excited to get out to the mountains though, it’s been a while.

Next weekend (12/29/12) I will be doing a normal 6-9 mile training run in Santa Monica.  Feel free to join either!


Unconventional Running Articles:

Outside Magazine: Crossfit Endurance’s unconventional 12-week marathon training plan
The New York Times: Better Running Through Walking
The New York Times: Running in Reverse


The New York Sun, Letters to the Editor (1897): Is there a Santa Claus? 

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