Six Ways CrossFit Can Benefit Runners

Photo: Chris Bischow

Gain Power

At CrossFit Elysium I got to know Karen Gallagher, a law professor who had migrated into the gym with a passion for running half marathons. She had a similar first experience to mine. “I was shocked to see how weak I was. I could barely front squat an empty bar,” she told me. Although Gallagher was first apprehensive about the weight training involved in CrossFit–she has a chronic back problem–but her gains in strength and power not only showed up in consistent performance improvements in the gym but also on the road: With a minimum of additional running to her CrossFit workouts she was able to run the San Diego Half Marathon in one of her best times and with the benefit of not getting beat up by it. “I had almost no soreness,” she said. Gallagher’s experience is a common story you’ll hear from runners who have joined a CrossFit gym: more overall power, no loss in speed and sometimes a gain in performance and most of all, rapid recovery from races. At San Francisco CrossFit I’ve got to know an ultrarunner named Pan Sohmnhot. I’ve watched in awe this past summer as Sohmnhot has run an ultra every few weeks or so, running the Marin Headlands 50-miler recently. Just after the Marin race I worked out with him at CFSF and (again in awe) seeing him do a variety of body lunges and deep squat exercises. I asked him about his experience in tying together running and CrossFit classes. “I took 3 hours off my 50-mile time in one year,” he told me. “And it used to be that I could barely walk for a week after a race.” Now, he says, he’s good to go the day after and is presently on track to qualify for Western States.

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