I just got done with the CrossFit Endurance seminar (www.crossfitendurance.com) over the weekend. My mind is still in high gear from all the crazy shit and amazing possibilities this seminar put in my head. In short, I’m f*ckin’ stoked about being an endurance athlete again. You may ask, “Hmm, Brendon, what ever do you mean, again? When did you leave…?” My answer would be something like, “Uhhh, well I pretty much checked out right after the 3rd corisone shot in my right plantar…that is after the three I had in the left plantar…and the tendonitis in my right knee that hurts every time I walk down the f’ing stairs….um, yeaahhh, that’s about when I checked out.” CFE is an elite program, infinitely scalable from beginner to advanced, to “go fast.” By the end of the weekend I had cleaned up my form, attained a more efficient stride, and regained my fire as a runner and endurance athlete.
Let’s start by addressing that even as an elite middle distance runner, no one has ever pulled me aside to work on stride mechanics. Of course I have worked on arm carry, head and shoulder position, and a little foot strike (mid/ball foot of course) but that pretty much covers it. This is through no fault of my previous coaches. Unfortunately there really isn’t a “proper” method of running that is universally taught or accepted. Running, according to the masses, is not a skill based sport (I heard that shit all the time in highschool and yes, I did see red every time I heard it). I was told, “the longer you run, the more efficient your stride will become.” The theory being more repetition causes your body to find its most efficient means possible to carry itself over a given distance. Ha! Screw that. The only thing that theory did was create more repetition of running incorrectly leading to more injuries and effectively running myself into the ground. But running is a skill. Using the Romonov “pose” method, taught by Carl and B-Mac of CFE, I finally learned why I was injuring myself.
Hip Flexors:I’ve always prided myself as a runner with powerful hips and quads…kinda like a T-Rex (minus the dinky arms flailing around)…that thought, to me, is pretty sweet. Unfortunately, pulling my “T-Rex” like hip flexors has been a common occurance. Actually, it’s what kept me from training further to race in Europe last summer. Thank you, T-Rex. I did realize the reason behind my big quads/hip flexors and my injuries was my running form…using my hips to pick my foot off the ground. Learning to pull with the hamstring fixed this problem, gave me a faster turnover and made a noticable difference in efficiency.
Cadence: For the life of me, I’ve never been able to comfortably run over 180 total steps/minute. I tried shorting my stride but it never felt right. I tried lifting my knees higher but that just got me tired, injured and made me look like a T-Rex (see above). With the new method of Pull/Fall, I was easily hitting 200 total steps/minute and feeling much better doing it.
Foot Strike: I’ve had plantar fascitis twice, one in each foot. It sucks, big time and is stubborn as hell to get rid of. Simple cause, rolling (pronating) from the outside in as I stepped, slightly in front my center of gravity. Again, the “pose” method trained my foot to land directly under my CG, keeping me healthy, more efficient and faster. I now focus on “pull, pull, pull” with my foot and back down underneath, the shortest distance between me and the ground.
Nutrition: You can’t build an effective machine without the proper hardware. Same goes for nutrition and the athlete. B-Mac told us a story of an ultra-distance runner who went from top 40th percentile in the race to 10th overall the following year, adjusting nothing but his diet. Boom. Done. I learned once again how important diet is the basis of all athletic endeavors.
Last, and most importantly, I became “edge-a-muckated” on the philosphy of “more is not better” aka “train smarter and harder, not just harder.” In a bottle, that means CrossFit. CrossFit is your base sport, specialization of a sport comes after this and in moderate to small doses. For me, that means 2-3 running WODS a week. It also means I’m pretty fucking excited…less injuries, a longer athletic career, a stronger and more capable body, and the blue print for an athlete that will “eat lightning and crap thunder”…or staying with the T-Rex anology, eat other dinosaurs.