CrossFit Endurance is all about strength and midline stability. Add the following drills to your workout two to three days a week.
Excerpted with permission from “Unbreakable Runner” by Brian MacKenzie (VeloPress, 2014). Learn more at Unbreakablerunner.com.
The primary goal of this drill is to learn how to activate your hamstrings and glutes when pulling the foot up from the ground after landing.
Stand 6 inches away from a wall and engage your core. Now practice pulling your foot up from the ground directly beneath your hip, using a light but quick snapping motion initiated by the hamstring. Use the wall to keep your foot from extending too far behind you.
Do 20 repetitions with each leg while focusing on using your hamstring and glutes to do the work. For runners who have relied more on their hip flexors than their hamstrings to run, this exercise will wake up some dormant tissue—you may even cramp up a bit. You’ll want the hamstring activation to translate into your running, with a quick popping off the ground with each foot pull.
SCALE: Start with five pulls on each leg, and slowly add repetitions with each workout until you can do 20.
Hop with Forward Lean
This drill will help teach you how to properly use gravity with a falling forward lean. It helps runners transition to a more compact stride; instead of reaching out with the leg and standing on the heel, midline stability is maintained and the hips become more central to the flow of power.
Begin with small vertical hops, as if jumping rope, engaging the core. Once you are hopping, allow your body to fall forward, hinging from the ankles instead of the waist. Continue to hop as you allow gravity to move you forward. Imagine that you are a pogo stick; focus on the elasticity in your feet and ankles to propel you. Lean for three to five hops without scuffing the feet, and then level out for three more hops.
SCALE: Practice leaning and squatting without actually hopping, which will accustom you to the movement and build strength in your hips and quads.
Hollow rock develops trunk strength and midline stabilization, which allows runners to hold good form even when they are fatigued at the end of a long race.
Lift head up and off the ground with arms reaching overhead. Tighten up your muscles—including abs and glutes—and imagine that you’re trying to pin your belly button to your spine. You should be aiming to achieve a shape like a crescent moon, with your lower back flat on the ground and your arms and legs elevated about a foot off the ground. Now use your legs to kick and power a rocking-chair motion.
SCALE: If you have a weak core, this exercise is tough to do properly at first. Build up strength by first spending time holding planks and using other traditional trunk strength exercises. You can also scale hollow rock by holding the engaged position without progressing into the rocking motion.