CrossFit and Running

This post has been gestating for a while, ever since I created a training schedule for my friend Tina’s Hat Trick. Tina is a big time CrossFitter but also an experienced runner. My challenge was to keep CrossFit in her life while she trains for a 5K and a 10K on the SAME DAY and then a half-marathon the VERY NEXT DAY.


(Halfway) Dr. Abby is on the case!

(Halfway) Dr. Abby is on the case!

The flood of emails that followed from my popular friend’s blog posting about her new schedule were predominantly about how to train for a marathon while still being able to do CrossFit. Some were CrossFit-like HIIT workouts, but the majority were people going to actual CrossFit boxes (this is what they call their gyms).

Disclaimer: I do not condone nor was I compensated by CrossFit or any CrossFit affiliates. This is NOT an article supporting or encouraging the use CrossFit in any fitness program, but rather a “How To” guide for marathon training for those who don’t want to exclude it from their schedule.

Probably. (Image courtesy of

(Image courtesy of

There are a couple of rules of thumb that you will just have to deal with during training if you want to get the most out of your running program.

  1. Put your running first.
  2. Scale back your heavy lifting to 2 days per week in order to get the most out of your run workouts.
  3. During peak running season, don’t increase the weight on your strength workouts.
  4. Get more rest. No really, get MUCH more rest.
  5. Schedule your lifting days appropriately in your running schedule.

With each of my CrossFit runners, they learned #1 the hard way. They didn’t want to switch up the WODs (Workout Of the Day) for their runs and thought they could do it all and see results in running.

Thing is, it’s no my opinion that they need to prioritize running in order to see running results. It’s science.

One specific type of muscle fiber develops during maximum lift training. Another completely different type of fiber develops during endurance training. They don’t exactly play nice together. There are a few other in-betweenys but those two are the biggies who rule the schoolyard.

Only one can win.

Only one can win.

So, when you think about mixing marathon training with CrossFit, get your priorities lined up. What’s important? Running a great race? Continuing to rock your CrossFit WODs? Setting a personal best in the 26.2? Putting up more weight on your deadlifts?

It’s all about what your personal goals are. You can do both, but in the end, one really has to be the focus. Set the other one on the back burner and put it on low heat during high training.

Now go out and run.

9 thoughts on “CrossFit and Running

  1. Trying that now. CrossFitting twice a week and training for the Baltimore Half Marathon and NYC Marathon. It has been tough but like you said I am only CrossFitting twice a week. The two weeks before the marathon I am taking off from Crossfit to give my legs some rest. Hopefully that plan works. Thanks for the help!

  2. I struggled last time I ran a marathon with balancing training with Refine. I ended up stopping Refine altogether because going only once a week made me more sore and I worried how it affected my running. This time around I’m not as bothered by the soreness and I do NOT want to stop Refine, so I’ve been making sure I go once a week no matter what. And it’s been fine! Running is definitely my priority, but I’m glad to still find a place for my favorite workout (which helps my running so much anyway).

    • It’s a tough balance but I think placement of the workouts is key. It’s also important to have that solid base (at Refine or otherwise) before you start your high season training. Otherwise, it’s just too much.

      I, too, have kept Refine throughout training 🙂

  3. My physical therapist was just telling me about this yesterday, actually. I guess I never really realized how much harder, physiologically, it is to do both. (I don’t do CrossFit, but I do run and strength train.) I guess I need to find a specific focus…I think that’s my problem. Thanks for posting this!

  4. Pingback: I’m So Glad I Live In A World Where There Are Octobers

  5. I definitely struggle with this currently. I started CrossFit about 2 months ago and LOVE it. I’ve been running for about a year and a half and am currently training for my first half (5 weeks away!) I let CrossFit take over for about 2 weeks and stopped running all together because I got excited for the new workout. Now I’m trying to balance both but definitely pushed too hard last week. Scaling down my CrossFit from 3x/week to 2x/week is probably a good bet for me. Thanks for the tips!

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