Dr. love On Lifting
Shalom, Factorians! So last night as I was correcting papers and recovering from a hard workout (all workouts are hard when you are out of shape like I am these days…) and I am flipping through the stations on my nice, new flat screen when I come across an interesting ESPN2 program. The 2011 CrossFit Games were being broadcast on this lovely channel of sport! For those of you who don’t know, CrossFit is a recent craze in cross training for fitness that stresses the value of proper movements, and throwing pretty massive amounts of weights around using the most basic of equipment. CrossFitters check in with CrossFit.com for their daily “WOD” (workout of the day) and then go to work in some of the sickest, dankest gyms around. CrossFit isn’t about glitz and glam, it’s a lung burning, muscle failing, push until you can’t even say the word push out loud sort of lifting program that shreds your body, and gets you about as fit as any other program out there. CrossFit exercises like burpees, wall walks and wall ups, box jumps, kettle bell pulls, sled pulls, pull ups, feet to hand pull ups, and all sorts of “underground” stuff is pretty legit, and pretty crazy!
My first introduction to CrossFit was through my friend, colleague, and former coach, fitness GENIUS Rich Airey from http://www.RunningWOD.wordpress.com. Rich is a CrossFit Endurance (CFE) guy who has been tearin’ it up ever since making the switch from traditional training to CFE style distance training. I mean, this is a guy who decided on a whim to run the AC Marathon the MONDAY before the Sunday race! And went out and ran something like a 6 minute PR! As if that isn’t crazy enough (the PR was under 2:50 in the ‘thon), that was the only week in the year prior to running the 20 in 24 Solo Challenge in Philly this summer, where he ran 84.56 miles in under 20 hours, that Rich ran over 20 miles in one WEEK! The dude is insane, and has a fitness program to match his insane work ethic.
You may be wondering why I mention all of this. Well, it’s not just an amazing human interest piece on a friend of mine, there is a greater good at work here. I tell you all of this because so many runners do not understand the value of a great strength training program (CFE, or tradition CF being two examples) to help their run training. Personally, I have noticed a greater ease when it comes to powering up hills at parks like Holmdel or Hartshorne Woods here in Monmouth County because Rich taught me how to squat properly. Squating properly and increasing my hamstring strength has led me back down the road to proper running form where I activate my hamstring (which is the largest muscle for us runners, and is grossly underused by far too many of us) and power my legs through their cycles. My upper body training has allowed my arms to move faster and stronger through a greater range of motion which helps my legs move faster- the faster you move your arms, the faster your legs will naturally go!- and my times get back down to where I am aiming.
To illustrate my point better, I have a friend, we will call him Frosh (because he is the eternal Freshmen). Frosh was a decent runner in college- he got under 27 minutes for the 5miles we used to run, but his post-collegiate career was hampered by injuries. Knees bugging him, or shins splinting on him, a possible broken foot one year before the Philly Marathon. Well I turned him on to our former coaches ideas of lifting more for runners and wouldn’t you know it, the kid goes out and runs 1:15 half maraton- WAY faster than he ever imagined, and on fewer miles! Much of his success is attributed to not only his hard work logging a couple of great long runs, but resting every week, and mixing in more intensity in the weight room!
Now, this isn’t to say that everyone is going to do astronomically better because they learn how to lift properly, or they increase their weights in the gym. Everyone is different, and everyone’s bodies will react differently to the different type of training. My suggestion- if you aren’t satisfied with where you are in your athletic careers, look up CrossFit Endurance, read their stuff, and then follow my friend Rich on http://www.runningwod.wordpress.com and really learn how to do more in less time with more intensity!
This is Dr. Love, saying WOD on Factorians!