Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CrossFit Endurance & Ironman

Sorry for the lag time in posts, but it's been hectic since getting back from Switzerland. Will post photos from the camp here soon. Anyway, will try to get back to regular postings, at least 2 times per week.

In the meantime, here's an email I received, partly because I do CrossFit as a means of exercise and training, asking me my thoughts on using CrossFit Endurance as a means of preparing for Ironman:

"Saw a video article about 10 Crossfit Endurance (CFE) trained athletes who completed Lake Placid 2010 using nothing but the CFE program. The first timers included a 13hr 20 min athlete who did Lake Placid as his second ever triathlon. He had lost 85 lbs during the previous year, again using CFE as his plan. Most of the vets experienced PR’s, one guy shaving 25 minutes to come in @ 10 something hrs. The other link is the CFE website which shows the daily training plan.

I have my crossfit coach working with me to understand it, but here is the basic breakdown.

3-4 days a week of strength workouts (15min or so) combined with a typical Crossfit workout of the day (20 min or so). Then 6 workouts over the week of mainly intervals, 2 days for each sport. It works out to around 8-10 hours a week of very high intensity, mostly anerobic work.

For example, a typical day would be what I did yesterday… First thing in the morning… Front Squats, work up to 1 rep max. Rest 10 minutes. Workout for time, 25 155lb deadlifts, 50 pullups, 100 kettlebell swings @ 53lbs. Including warm-ups and stretching, about 1:15 of work. Then later in the evening (at least 3 hrs after your first workout) do long bike interval training. Ride a half mile, rest for the time it took you to do it, then ride 1 mile, rest for time it took, then do 2 miles, rest for time it took. Repeat this 3-5 times. Should be close to a max effort for each interval.

Eventually you’d work up to a 3 days on 1 day off approach with each sport getting 2 days of work. Their whole concept is to almost entirely eliminate the ‘long, slow’ distance training that sucks up so many hours during a season and can really start to beat up your body. If I do end up using this approach, I’m absolutely going to include one long workout each week, just for the sake of the mental training and nutrition, not to mention the fun of training with the rest of our team. I’ll be interested to hear what you think. Also, if you wouldn’t mind, what does your typical training routine entail? Thanks for the help!"

These are great questions, and here was my response...

I'm a crossfit guy as well, really enjoy it. I think crossfit endurance is a good tool, but mainly best for the off-season months, or base periods, not in the build period, or 12 weeks prior to an Ironman. There's no doubt that doing any exercise regularly, including/especially high intensity training, can get you to the finish line of an Ironman, but to really do well requires more specific training than a single long ride per week.

I think CFE is also a great tool for those who seemed to have plateaued from longer training. Part of the problem is, many athletes go out on long rides and run and simply do the same pace all the time, never changing the intensity or challenging themselves. This would be like going to the weight room and doing 100 squats, 100 pull-ups and 100 push-ups every day. Of course this would plateau, and not give much benefit to a crossfit athlete after awhile.

So use this in the general preparation periods, but turn your focus to more specific prep when the race nears, and I think you'll do a lot better than you would have if you simply did CFE.

Hope this helps!

Coach Vance

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