Can CrossFit Make You A Better Runner?

Intense workouts like CrossFit might make you stronger and improve your general level of fitness, but will it improve your running? Photo: Scott Draper/Competitor

Improve Your General Fitness

Don’t misinterpret this article to read that I am one of those running coaches who thinks that any exercise outside of running is a sham. I believe runners can learn a lot from other sports and by examining different fitness trends. I have no doubt that a fitness regimen like CrossFit will help you get in good shape. In fact, here are a couple of ways in which these routines might benefit you as a runner:

Remember: Some training is better than no training.

For new or injury-prone runners who can’t yet handle an increase in running mileage, including another type of physical stimulus will improve your general level of fitness. By proxy, an increased level of general fitness, which may include weight loss, fat loss, and general health, will eventually help you to become a better runner.

Likewise, for those runners who struggle to increase mileage, including strength-oriented fitness routines in your training schedule might the muscular system adapt to physical demands of running more. Mike Smith, the mens and women’s cross country coach and assistant track coach at Kansas State University, suggests that, “Initial improvements in aerobic conditioning are often biochemical in nature and thus can happen somewhat rapidly whereas changes to the physical structure of muscle, ligaments, tendons and bones is a far more time consuming process.”

If adding intense, strength-oriented non-running workouts motivates you to get off the couch one extra day per week, or serves as the foundation to a stronger body that can tolerate more running, it will help to you to become a better runner in the long term.

Become A Better Athlete

Along those same lines, becoming a better overall athlete may help you become a better runner down the road. Most runners who start in high school do so because they weren’t athletic or explosive enough to be good at other sports. Likewise, most adults start running because they desire to get fit after years of gaining weight or being sedentary.

If you fall into one of these two categories, or even if you used to be a good athlete but haven’t done any exercise except running the last few years, becoming stronger and more coordinated may help prevent injuries and improve your running economy. In this case, fitness routines such as CrossFit can definitely help you become a more well-rounded athlete.

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