Burning Runner: Explaining My New Training Approach

Doug Katona lead the weekend seminar with CFE founder Brian MacKenzie.

T.J. recaps last weekend’s CrossFit Endurance seminar and then explains his new training approach.

Click here to check out photos from last weekend’s CrossFit Endurance Seminar in Hermosa Beach, California.

The “CrossFit Endurance” (CFE) seminar went down last weekend in Hermosa Beach, Calif. Brian MacKenzie and Doug Katona of CFE lead the classes and drill sessions out of Crossfit South Bay, and the group was exposed to the core foundations of the training program: Pose method running skills (and a classroom session explaining the primary concepts of the Pose method), a thorough review of diet, mobility training, and an in-depth look into the programming element of Crossfit Endurance were the key subjects.

MacKenzie’s foundation for CFE is built on a mixture of opening his mind up to research and science, not just as it has been conducted for running and triathlon but to sports outside the boundaries of the endurance world like Crossfit, power lifting and Olympic lifting. When it comes to his background with Pose running, he spent seven years working with Dr. Nicholas Romanov, the brains behind the Pose method, and with all subjects, including the diet that he adheres to, MacKenzie says he has used himself as the primary guinea pig in his preparation and execution of competing in100-mile trail races.

Perhaps the most controversial of MacKenzie’s beliefs is in the programming of CFE. “There are no recovery runs,” he says, and a sample training schedule for, say, a marathon, you’ll find no more than three runs per week, typically either time trials or interval workouts. Aerobic capacity is achieved through speed running and through the conditioning element of the circuit-structured Crossfit workouts (I can testify to the fact that these workouts are cardiovascular sessions. One such workout—a mix of ergonomic rowing, kettle bell swings and pushups—felt pretty much like racing a 5K. My heart rate blasted through the roof).

The approach to fitness reminded me of what Peter Coe used to have his son do, the great world-record holder Sebastian Coe. Coe was reported to rely on weekly training volumes in the 40-mile range, with the focus on speed endurance work. As I recall, he also used quite a bit of circuit-type training in a gym, particularly in the winter.

For my own purposes, which are sub-elite indeed, I felt I was witness to an approach to running that had some exciting possibilities. As I’ve written before, the one thing (having gone through so much injury in recent years) that I like is that the CFE model starts off first and foremost with rooting out “holes” in a runner’s health, symmetry, balance and strength and then working into a running schedule, as opposed to just ramping up the raw mileage.

Considering my past and how new this all is for me, I’ve set a 6-month goal to work toward exclusively using CFE—preparing for a half-marathon in August and simultaneously building a foundation so that I can race cross-country in the fall.

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