Super Running: Is Crossfit Endurance The New Way To Train?

Photo: Chris Bishow

The Missing Piece

MacKenzie began developing Crossfit Endurance when he became, as he puts it, “a broken down runner.”

“I did the volume stuff and it just destroyed me,” he says. “I was doing big miles getting ready for Ironman Canada in 2004, but I shut down with plantar fasciitis and knee problems.”

Frustrated, MacKenzie looked for a new method. Having cultivated a powerlifting background in the 1990s, his return to a gym for strength training showed him how much he had lost. “Back in the day I was able to squat 300 pounds,” he explained. “I went into the gym and squatted 75 pounds for four reps and it killed me. I thought, ‘Dude, what have you done to yourself?’”

MacKenzie began testing mixes of powerlifting, diet, running technique and running, but ran into several walls. Certain combinations produced too much muscle bulk and others produced too much breakdown.

“Crossfit was the missing piece,” MacKenzie says. “The training effect is better in all metabolic pathways. It produces an athlete that doesn’t break down.” Inserting Crossfit into the equation also had the advantage of slashing overall training time.

While MacKenzie retained the key speed endurance workouts from traditional endurance training—long and short interval workouts and time-trial-like tempo runs—he replaced easy-to-medium effort, short and long runs with Crossfit workouts, maintaining that preparing an athlete for a long race was covered by developing a superior technique and fortifying the body with the strength and power developed through Crossfit, powerlifting and Olympic-style lifts. Things clicked for MacKenzie as he used the new combination to finish ultramarathons on less than 10 hours a week of training. His clients became fans of it, too.

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