It has been said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. With that in mind, I decided to try a new approach to my marathon training this year. Since last year was my first marathon attempt, I concentrated on covering the distance. While I was able to to finish the marathon, I fell short of my time goal: sub five hour marathon. This year I've cut back on my miles and increased my strength through Crossfit. Will this combination help me achieve my goal? I'll get my answer on May 4th. But in the meantime, I'm seeing signs of improvement from last year.
The atmosphere of a Crossfit gym has been a pleasant surprise. It's a 180 degrees from the global gyms I've belonged to in the past. No one will be texting during a workout, or fixing their hair in the mirror. In fact there aren't any mirrors in the gym. And thank goodness for that because I would be afraid to see the faces I make while working out.
Everyone is there to work hard and support each other. When I first started doing the group workouts I was afraid I would make a fool out of myself or would have everyone staring at me like, "What the heck is that girl doing?" My fear was that everyone would see how bad I was struggling. But the truth is that everyone is so involved in their own self misery during a workout that they have no clue what I am doing. That's because Crossfit is scaleable to all abilities. Can't do pull ups? No big deal. Then do jumping pull ups. Haven't had much faith in your handstand since the 3rd grade? Then you can do shoulder presses. There's a modification for every workout. And once you have developed those skills they can be added to the workout of the day.
I've also decided to sign up for the Crossfit games. At first, I was thinking why even bother? But I've been improving over the past two months. Take for example, the clean and jerk movement. On February 10th I did my first benchmark workout named "Grace". It's a timed workout consisting of 30 clean and jerks. At the end of 30 clean and jerks my time was 3 minutes and 7 seconds. I was shocked. The day before Christmas I could only do a clean and jerk with the bar (35 pounds). Now I had just pumped out 55 pounds at nearly 10 reps a minute!
Some days I surprise myself and do something really well that I didn't even know I could do. But if you find something you are really good at, you will also find something you are really bad at. The skills that Crossfit utilitzes leave no stone unturned.
I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding Crossfit. Everyday a new article is published debating it's safety and effectiveness. There is risk with any sport. This winter I have been running on snow and ice and swerving around pot holes like I'm in an obstacle course. I think it's safe to say I've encountered way more risk outside of the gym than in the gym. And with the proper coaching there is no reason you will injure yourself. When my husband and I joined Mt. Lebanon Crossfit we got really lucky. We are really fortunate to have some of the best coaches in the country. This isn't an overstatement. When the 9th place finisher at the Crossfit Games and her coach are the coaches at your gym, you just have to shut up and listen. They know what they are doing.
Is Crossfit effective? I know this is also a hot debate, but I just can't deny results. My clothes are fitting better, my belt notches keep moving and I'm feeling the best I've felt in a while. I'm getting stronger, running faster and hills are no longer slowing me down. I won't know until May 4th if I can run a faster marathon, but I think I'm getting some clues along the way. Improving my overall fitness will do nothing but help my running. I'm excited to see how far I'll go.
Author: Sarah Warman
I like to run, take pictures and write. I've combined all three in this blog.