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

  • By TJ Murphy
  • Published Jul. 12, 2011
  • Updated Feb. 19, 2013 at 8:50 AM UTC
Photo: Chris Bishow

Is Crossfit The Future?

Developed by Greg Glassman and first embraced by soldiers, firefighters and elite police forces, Crossfit has exploded. Through an affiliate system connected by Crossfit.com, the movement now boasts upwards of 2,500 gyms. Whereas a modern-day fitness facility is stocked with Cybex and Nautilus machines, a Crossfit gym looks a lot like MacKenzie’s garage gym—basic equipment used for compound, functional movements opposed to the isolated movement created by, for example, an arm curl machine.

The main theory of the Crossfit movement is that an overly specialized athlete—let’s say a traditionally trained runner with low-muscle mass and creaky joints—is a poor example of overall fitness, and that if fitness is what you want, then first become an all-around athlete—strong, mobile, agile and powerful with a high-level of stamina. Then one can go run a race, play a football game or become a mixed-martial arts fighter.

While the same argument flung at Gibbons has been used against MacKenzie—saying that since he’s not an elite athlete he has no business talking smack about Lydiard training—there’s no denying that MacKenzie embodies Crossfit’s ideal.

After his workout of deadlifts and met-con training back in his garage, he was soon bouncing on his backyard trampoline with his dog, Izzy, rocketing into the air, peeling off front and back flips. He plans to skateboard for the rest of his life, and this past winter he broke up an intensive CFE seminar travel schedule for skiing and snowboarding trips. This is not the standard fare of runners who have qualified and run the 100-mile trail epic of Western States or the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon.

Considering the trajectory and appeal of Crossfit, it seems likely that CFE will continue to gain traction with recreational runners, cyclists and triathletes. But will we ever see a sub 2:10 marathoner use it? MacKenzie thinks so. “I really believe it’s the future. It may not be exactly what I’m teaching, but in one form or another, I think we’re going to see change in how the elites train to be great.”

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FILED UNDER: CrossFit / Injury Prevention / Inside The Magazine TAGS: / / /

TJ Murphy

TJ Murphy

T.J. Murphy is a 2:38 marathoner and five-time Ironman finisher. He is the former editorial director of Triathlete Magazine, Inside Triathlon and Competitor Magazine. His writing has also appeared in Outside Magazine and Runner’s World. He recently authored “Inside the Box: How Broke All The Rules, Stripped Down the Gym and Rebuilt My Broken Down Body.”

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