2.4 miles of wading through rough waters, 112 miles of burning tarmac under the wheels and 26 miles of bounding endlessly over roads, and somehow you need to find a final kick of power to burst through the last 354m to fend off the trailing athlete hot on your heels. Sure, you’ve got the stamina to run to the moon and back; but there’s nothing left in the tank for that final explosion of power to seal the deal.
Classic triathlon and endurance sport training suggests the only way to get better is to plug away and get those training miles in. While this of course has its place, and building a super strong aerobic capacity is essential for all endurance athletes; strength and power capabilities are required to help with that sprint finish, conquer those tough climbs and provide the ability to break away from the pack mid-race. You just need to find a training routine to provide you with the training you need!
We can break down the physiological demands of endurance performance into three important factors (Sandbakk, 2019):
- High Aerobic Capacity (VO2 Max)
- Lactate Threshold
- Movement Economy
WHAT ARE THOSE?!
Your VO2 max is the maximum capacity you have for consuming oxygen during exercise. Lactate threshold refers to the maximal intensity you can exercise at with little or no spike in blood lactate levels (think of this as that “jelly legs” moment). Movement economy describes how much power and speed can be produced using a certain amount of oxygen (Ghosh, 2014).
How can training CrossFit improve these?
Research suggests that strength training can significantly improve exercise or movement economy, maximal velocity (speed) and peak power output (Le, 2018); all important factors in conquering those sprint efforts during a big race. Your CrossFit session will more often than not begin with some maximal strength, or explosive power activity so get used to shifting some tin around to get those strength and power gains! While you may have already built a strong aerobic capacity and high lactate threshold in your endurance training, constantly hitting the same stimulus can become repetitive and tedious. Conditioning training in your CrossFit session will vary between long, more steady state efforts and high intensity lactate threshold style workouts; all of which are constantly varied. Your muscular endurance, ability to work at higher intensities and body awareness will all see vast improvements. Not only that, but your recovery ability between training sessions will no doubt see a significant increase
So, what’s the hype around CrossFit training? Can’t I just go to my local PureGym?
Sure, you could get yourself down to the local gymnasium and pump some iron for 4 sets of 10 monotonous reps alongside Barry big arms while he asks you if ‘you’re nearly finished bro’. Do this and I can guarantee you will be begrudgingly handing your money over to train in an environment you feel uncomfortable in, become bored of fast and find little enjoyment from.
Strength and power training that is constantly varied, progressive and focuses on correct mechanics in an exciting and positive environment. Sounds pretty perfect, right? The community feel of a CrossFit gym is second to none; having a break from lonely training days out in all weathers with a group of like-minded individuals can provide a huge mental boost.
With that being said, let’s focus on the non-training side of things…
While you may love getting out and putting in the lonely miles on the road and in the pool, varying your training routine and environment can provide a lot of mental benefits. Breaking the monotony of a perfectly constructed scientific training schedule can provide a much needed mental and physical break. There’s no doubt that training in all weathers can wear you down, no matter how tough your mental game is. CrossFit can provide a great addition to your winter training schedule. What’s even better, is that you can get this done within an hour of your day without having to create your own training routine; the coach is there to do this for you!
If you’re looking for some variation in your training, if you’re struggling to find that missing x-factor in your performance, or just want to be part of a buzzing community of fellow fitness fanatics then CrossFit might be just what you’re looking for…you just need to take the plunge!
Ghosh, A. K. (2004). Anaerobic threshold: its concept and role in endurance sport. The Malaysian journal of medical sciences: MJMS, 11(1), 24.
Le, K. J. (2018). Strength Training for Triathletes: Blending Anecdotal and Empirical Evidence to Improve Triathlon Performance.
Sandbakk, Ø. (2019). Long-Term Effects of Strength Training on Aerobic Capacity and Endurance Performance. In Concurrent Aerobic and Strength Training (pp. 325-331). Springer, Cham.