Crossfit endurance, Tabata sprints, and why people just don’t get it
Not terribly long ago, I stopped dating a girl because she did crossfit.
Okay, it wasn’t the only reason, but it was a major factor. I mention this not to show how messed up my dating life/requirements may be, but to show how strongly I feel about the marketing scheme that is Crossfit.  I’ve always wanted to write a blog post about it, but the article in this months Runner’s World has finally pushed me over the edge.  I’m writing this blog to give a 2nd opinion and to combat the marketing hype that surrounds crossfit.  I wouldn’t take much offense to crossfit and would let it do its own thing, except when you start telling people that this is the way of the future and that Ryan Hall would run faster if he did this stuff , then I have a problem (Yes, CFE founder has made this claim)
For this post, we’ll focus on Crossfit Endurance because it got some major publication in this month’s Runner’s World and has been getting some hype lately.  If you were at my presentation at the American Distance Summit in North Carolina, you got to hear me take a few jabs at crossfit (and Renato Canova even threw in a jab or two!).  Since it’s a question I get asked a lot, lets take a look at crossfit endurance.
The claim and exploitation:

Crossfit Endurance and CF in general is a randomized non-system of training.  It’s basically a set of random workouts that are high intensity circuit based workouts.  In CF this refers to a variety of high strength circuits and in CFE it combines this with high intensity intervals like the famous Tabata “sprints” (sets of 20sec hard/10sec easy).  There are no easy runs.  It’s simply mix short intensity work with slightly longer high intensity work and that’s all you get.
Crossfit exploits a couple different natural reactions people have to get people on their bandwagon.  First, they create a straw man “us vs. them” mentality.  We’ll go over this straw man tactic a bit later, but they try and cultivate this idea that just because it’s different and new means its got to be better.  They throw in some pseudoscience or misinterpretation of science and they’ve bolstered their selling point.  Further exploiting peoples natural habits, they promise better results with less time commitment, which in today’s “busy” world is probably the number one selling point for many products or ideas. If you’ve ever watched late night infomercials, you might start to see some similarities…
Lastly, once you’re in they do something pretty creative.  They first created their own new performance metric on which you’re judged.  Because being good at all the other methods of establishing performance isn’t good enough, so now you’re judged based on some criteria that crossfit develops.  Being a specialist at something is apparently bad?  Additionally, they really go after this hard work/pain = improvement and results idea.  This is also known as the Rocky effect.  But if you’ve been in the coaching business long enough you know that hard stupid work doesn’t get you anywhere.  You can’t just do work that is painful just because it hurts and expect to get better.
Getting beyond some of the basic philosophical tenets of CF that are ridiculous, let’s look at some of their claims in regards to endurance performance and training.
What crossfit doesn’t get:
The central claim is that you can get the same endurance benefits (or better) from doing high intensity work and limit any slower to moderate paced running.  They go on to claim that endurance training ages you faster and is detrimental to performance.  Their claim rests on their misunderstanding of VO2max as being equal to or critical to performance.
Let’s use their main research backed claim to look into their claims.
Tabata sprints and the high intensity misunderstanding:
A researcher named Tabata did a series of studies on untrained and then moderately trained individuals in which he gave them a workout that consisted of 20sec hard/10sec rest for 4minutes.  When this program was researched, they noted that VO2max increased by a large amount and that certain aerobic enzymes also increased.  Using this and similar studies as their basis, CF has championed the idea that you can get the same, or better, performance off of doing intense work like that done in the study.  Lets use this as a way to look at why these claims are false.
#1 VO2max does not equal aerobic performance:
While I’ve written before about the measurement of VO2max and how it relates to performance and you can read more in depth on it in those blog posts, it bears repeating the conclusions reached by Vollaard et al (2009):
“Moreover, we demonstrate that VO2max and aerobic performance associate with distinct and separate physiological and biochemical endpoints, suggesting that proposed models for the determinants of endurance performance may need to be revisited (pg. 1483)”.
The basic idea is that VO2max and performance are separate things.  Just because VO2max is increased or decreased, does not mean that performance will change to the same degree or even at all.  This is a key concept to understand because often times studies will track training’s effects on VO2max and not performance.  For instance, in much of the research cited by CF or even cited in journal articles that talks about the benefit of high intensity training or strength training, they talk about changes in VO2max.
#2 Intervals increase aerobic ability of FT fibers
At the coaching clinic I presented at Renato Canova made a nice point that somewhat fast interval training can increase the aerobic ability of Fast Twitch fibers.  It’s best to think of it as an interplay between FT and ST fibers.  In that different intensities and volumes will increase aerobic or anaerobic enzymes in each type of fibers along the spectrum.  What that means is that although high and low intensity might both hit similar aerobic enzymes, they do so in different ways and in different fiber types.
#3 Why does VO2max improve?
Understanding why VO2max improves is another key to understanding this whole debate.  VO2max does not simply reflect aerobic ability.  Instead VO2max is influenced by several mechanisms.  First off, if you’ve read Noakes central governor or if you’ve read recent research on VO2max testing protocols, you’d know that VO2max isn’t an actual max.  You’re body self limits it.  One way to improve VO2max in a test is to be familiar in pushing closer to that “edge”.  If your body knows you can go there, it loosens the limits a little bit.  Very hard interval training lets the body know it can handle high stress loads.
Secondly, we know that VO2max is influenced by muscle fiber recruitment.  So if we increase the amount of recruitable muscle fibers during a test, the VO2max will rise.  What’s a way to increase muscle fiber recruitment? Sprinting, strength training, etc.  It’s one of the reasons why you see VO2max increases in untrained athletes but not so much in trained following strength training.  The trained ones are pretty good at recruiting more and more fibers as they get closer to fatigue.  The untrained, not so much.
#4 What Happens when we build a base and follow it up with intensity?
A major problem with research studies is that they are all short term.  It’s the nature of the beast.  But let me pose a few questions to all of you.
What does the typical recreational endurance athlete do?
If you answered jog around or do easy and moderate runs with little hard workouts you’d be correct.  Most recreational runners for instance simply go run.  Why does this matter?
What happens when you take people just doing mileage and add intensity?
If you answered they improve over a short time, you’d be correct!  Think back to your HS days when you spent a summer building a base of almost just mileage and then you hit the season and your coach starts throwing interval training into the mix.  You get a nice boost in performance right?  This is essentially what happens in these research studies.  They take recreational runners who just do easy/base stuff and then throw 6 weeks of training hard on them and they improve.  Ask any coach and they’ll say this is just a simple old school peaking/training program. In fact, it might resemble your typical HS application of Lydiard training.
#5 What CrossFit endurance does is reminiscent of training done in the early 1900s:
I harp on people to know their history so that they don’t repeat training mistakes.  In the history of endurance training it’s been a constant back and forth between intensity and volume of work. Early on there were very very big swings.  So we went back and forth between training that was almost all easy slow running and that which was all hard interval training.  As training has evolved we’ve gotten closer and closer to that sweet spot and mix.
What CFE has done is ignore all that and try and go back to a time when all that was done was very hard very fast interval work.  It worked to a degree, but performance got much better when we modulated things so that there was a nice mix.
Essentially, Crossfit is living in like the 1940s. We’ve learned from those times and evolved.
#6 A straw man of LSD vs. high intensity:
Crossfit, and many others, typically create a straw man where they compare their training to a type of training that isn’t used but by very beginners.  They paint running training as almost all LSD (long slow distance), when the reality is if you look at any elite, college, or high school training program there is a nice blend of volume and intensity.  No one is just jogging around each day.  Yet that is what they have you believe.  This even happens in research when they compare interval training with just jogging around, as if jogging around was the norm for training.
What happens in the real world of course is that there is a nice mixture and blend between volume and intensity.  Essentially, they are arguing for something that doesn’t occur.
#7 Two ways to improve aerobic endurance
In fact, if you look at how some endurance adaptations happen, you can see that to increase things like mitochondrial density, several different intensities trigger similar adaptations.  This goes along with the point on enzyme activity and FT/ST fibers.  But if we look at this nice graphic from Laursen (2009), we can see that two different pathways to achieve some of these functional adaptations are activated by endurance and interval training.  So why the heck would we want to use only one pathway when two different means of getting these nice adaptations are there.  If you just attacked the problem from one side, you’d maximize that side quickly and have nowhere to go!
Additionally, we know that repetitive stress and activation of signaling pathways is what triggers adaptation.  It’s one of the reasons why we train pretty much every day for maximum performance even if some of it is low intensity.  That low intensity easy to moderate work helps to enhance recovery and applies a consistent signal for adaptation.  Pure rest in this case isn’t better (which is often the counterargument).
#8 Periodization matters:
It seems simple enough that people would know that how you plan and periodize training matters.  Training isn’t a random collection of hard exercises or workouts.  There has to be some sort of logical sequence and progression.  If there’s not, then you can expect to get exactly what you trained for, random results.
The bottom line is that so called high intensity interval training (HIIT) which is the new fad word with strength coaches is good.  But for endurance performance it’s even better when it is supported!  You have to support it with something.  Endurance work of various kinds and even pure speed work (with lots of recovery) serves as support for the intense stuff.
#9 Interaction matters:
Endurance and strength gains fight each other a bit for adaptation.  While I don’t want to get bogged down in the details, if we look at the signaling pathway for some endurance adaptations and then muscle hypertrophy which are two goals of CF and CFE, we can see that they interact and in fact impair each other in some cases.  For example, doing endurance work right after strength can impair hypertrophy because the mTOR pathway(which signals hypertrophy among other things) is basically switched off with endurance work. This isn’t meant to show that they are mutually exclusive, but instead to show that when you do things matters.  Sometimes a whole heck of a lot!  Thus why you have to think about and plan things, not just do random hard workouts.

This goes for not only sequencing of endurance and strength work, but also in regards to sequencing different strength workouts.  You have to know what pre-fatiguing muscles does to the subsequent training effect.  And you have to know what the effect is on the Central Nervous System.  Crossfit doesn’t think about this at all.  They don’t care.

#11 Individualization
My number one pet peeve.  There is no individualization.  Workout of the day.  That’s the norm.  Beyond that, everyone does the same crap for the most part.  I could go on for days on the importance of individualization, and CF and CFE fail miserably.

What does this all mean?

What happens in the long term?
Again, I’m going to ask a rhetorical question, for you HS coaches out there what happens if you mess up the balance and do too much intense interval training after that base phase?  The answer is the kids fried.  You see it all the time in High School.  A kid hits the interval training hard, runs some amazing early season times and then fizzles out and is fried by the end of the year.  That’s what happens training wise.  If you want lactate proof, this is what happens aerobically if you mess things up.  You shift the balance to working anaerobically too much (Test #3) and you produce more lactate at each pace, and you are done!
The reason is that there is an interplay between easy to moderate running and intense running or even strength training.  If you work too much on the intensity or strength side you shift things towards that way.  In practical terms your lactate produced at each speed might go up or you might decrease aerobic ability a little bit.  Same goes if you do too much volume with not enough speed support.  You’re speed side would be neglected so that would go down.  It depends on what you are training for but achieving some sort of balance is key.
Additionally, if we look at very long term implications for performance we know that the foundational aerobic mileage does a few things.  First in long term studies on Cross Country skiers, the high volume of training created a fundamental shift in fiber type towards those which improved their performance.  So we got a ST fiber type shift for guys who needed lots of ST.  Secondly, the high volume of training leads to long term increases in efficiency.  Yes, high intensity work or even lifting can do this too but again it’s through different mechanisms.  Lifting for example can increase efficiency via modulating stiffness of the system.  Or essentially creating a stiffer spring.  High Volume training on the other hand works via increase the efficiency of both motor program patterns (because of the repeated nature) and at the muscular level in terms of oxygen utilization and waste product removal.  Again, two different ways to hit the same functional adaptation (improved efficiency), so why would we just want to work on one of them.
So we have research showing that in very elite runners, long term high volume training is needed to make functional changes.  We have practical experience in that throughout history we’ve shifted towards the volumes we do now and that practically every single good runner does a solid amount of mileage (with good intensity mixed in) and we have the theory of why mileage should work.
If we simply put crossfit endurance through the same kind of review we have:
Research- short term studies on high intensity training shows improved VO2max and in some cases performance, but we have looked at why those don’t apply neatly already.  No research on crossfit endurance in particular
Theory- It goes against all known scientific theory for how endurance performance should be improved and how it actually happens.
Practice- No good runners do it.  We know from history what happens and what kind of performance you get even if you do a lot of high intensity work with very little volume.
And lastly, it doesn’t help that they subscribe to every fad from diet to pose method of running that there is.
Finally, if you want a very interesting research approach to the high volume/intensity paradigm read Stephen Seiller’s nice summary here:
And finally, I’d like to point out that finishing and racing are different.  I’ve heard far too many times that so and so did crossfit and finished a marathon so it must work.  No offense and sorry to sound elitist, but if I took off 6 months and did nothing I could still finish a marathon.  It doesn’t mean my program of doing nothing worked.
What does this all mean?
While this was a lengthy rant, it only touches the surface of the Crossfit or Crossfit Endurance phenomenon.  My point wasn’t to critique everything they did (that might be later) but to teach you why some of their claims they make, even research based claims, might be wrong.

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    1. Boris Hornbei on January 13, 2012 at 1:25 am

      Delighted to read this. Crossfit is just 1940s-1960s training all over again. When Arthur Lydiard's endurance-trained boys came on the scene, they blew the interval-trained champions away. Nowaday, Emil Zatopek's world records and Olympic times would hardly raise eyebrows on the US collegiate level.

      The Crossfit-style interval brouhaha has been around for a long time – it's standard dogma amid the Testosterone Nation body-building scene.

      Intervals are addictive – no question, they deliver very fast, spectacular results – as any distance runner discovers after 6-8 weeks of track work. Problem is, that's where it ends. As Lydiard famously put it, you can train for max anaerobic endurance in a month or two, but you can keep improving aerobic metabolism for many years. It's the long miles at 80% to 85% MHR that kept Lydiard's proteges rising to the next level every year until they won on the elite level.

      The birders have a saying: "When the bird and the book disagree – believe the bird." No elite distance runners DON'T do intervals today; and none of them do them as base training. CrossFit and the bodybuilders are like the Catholics in heaven; they don't know that anyone else is there.

      • Greg on September 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

        I agree with most of that, but CrossFit is not the same as the Testosterone Nation. Bodybuilders have a method, focusing on 1-2 muscle groups a day and nothing else! Their targeted muscles change every day on a weekly schedule to get the most definition out of each workout.

        CrossFit does a random assortment over the course of the workout and the course of a week. You could easily go a week without touching a key muscle group because it didn't end up in your CrossFit mix. This leads to an uneven development in muscles that should compliment eachother leading to serious injuries (and job security for physcial therapists).

        Long story short Bodybuilding is very different than endurance training but they both have a method. CrossFit is doing its own thing with no method or structure leaving both sides of the spectrum to look at them and wonder "what are they possibly thinking."

      • Boris Hornbei on December 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm

        What I omitted to say is that bodybuilders and strength trainers will unfailingly tell you that for cardiovascular improvement HIIT is "better" than endurance work. The underlying fear, from their side, is that anything "too aerobic" will erode strength gains and/or hypertrophy.

        I've had strength trainers, including a former world-champion age group power lifter, tell me point-blank that aerobic training, i.e., endurance work, is "unhealthy." These guys are living in the 1950s and don't realize it. They've just developed a nice self-enclosed system of explanations for why whatever they like to do – because it doesn't take much time or energy – is "best." Typical homo sapiens behavior.

    2. Rob on January 13, 2012 at 2:32 am

      Great analysis! Thanks for all the detail and counter points, it's good to hear some counter arguments to all the claims.

    3. TriPeakPro on January 13, 2012 at 2:58 am

      awesome article. now I have more ammunition for the next discussions 😀

    4. Chris G on January 13, 2012 at 3:25 am

      Well-written article. I do think you over-generalize a bit too much and even pull a bit of the "us vs. them" fallacy yourself however. Many CrossFit trainers and CrossFit Endurance trainers do use periodization, individualization, and long distance in their programming.

      That said, Greg Glassman and Brian MacKenzie have big mouths and typically end up saying some stupid sh*t that makes a lot of other CrossFitters have to post on blogs justifying their training program! Ha, thanks for reading.


      • Anonymous on January 4, 2013 at 3:26 am

        Heretic! B-Mac (as he likes cuz every dude with a ton of tats needs a catchy nickname) knows all!

    5. Narendra Rocherolle on January 13, 2012 at 4:33 am

      I almost stopped reading your article after the first few paragraphs because you don't actually have a grasp on the CFE regimen if you describe it as "It’s simply mix short intensity work with slightly longer high intensity work and that’s all you get."

      Even the mass programmed website is pretty explicit that it is short, long, and then tempo or time trial. There are frequently 10-13 mile tempo runs as part of this regimen. I have been following CFE for 6 months and done tabata only one time. The founder is also pretty outspoken that the program is just an entry into this form of training.

      I think that you are going to be surprised at the next generation of kids that have this cross-functional strength as a foundation. It is certainly an open question if it can produce a world-class marathoner but to dismiss it out of hand is just immature.

      Volume then Intensity and Form as an after thought is the current model.

      CFE is form, followed by strength and intensity with less focus on volume.

      I think that the exceptionally runners happen into form and strength and progress with volume and intensity and in many cases too much volume. Even Ryan Hall now credits his Boston race with running less.

      CFE is pointing out that the vast majority of runners have poor form and little strength so layering on traditional methods just doesn't do much.

      There has never been a large block of people training in this fashion. It has been used by decathletes and plenty of former eastern block countries pretty effectively across shorter disciplines.

      • Anonymous on June 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm

        Very well said

      • Anonymous on July 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        PEDs made the eastern block countries fast, not crossfit. Like Steve says in his article, "Know your history"

      • Rob Murphy on July 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm

        I would credit Ryan Hall's Boston race to a 20 mph tailwind

      • Anonymous on December 1, 2012 at 8:49 pm

        Wow, this rant read the same as the CF/CFE marketing. Can't you all just get along. You sound really threatened.

      • Anonymous on June 25, 2013 at 2:22 am

        A lot I could address in your rebuttal there, broheim. I'll stick to one thing, though. You haven't mentioned the false claims made by CFE to help improve those of us who are already doing plenty of form, interval and speed with our endurance.

      • Tony Derriso on January 15, 2016 at 1:46 am

        I'd be curious to know whether the detractors of CFE have actually tried it. I've been running since I was 14 and have completed countless races, including collegiate track, a couple dozen marathons and a few ultras. I've supplemented my training with CF and have been satisfied with the results. I'm not an elite athlete (anymore), I don't make a living with my legs, and I don't care about winning my age group at the local half-marathon (so I can win a $100 gift card to Outback). Been there, done that. CFE does not "market" itself as the only way or even the best way, just "a" way requiring less time and resulting in fewer overuse injuries. Also, it can help people develop an overall functional fitness and mobility that most people, including runners, lack.

    6. Anonymous on January 13, 2012 at 4:59 am

      Interesting read…I've been leery of all the hype surrounding CrossFit-it seems to me to be a good way to get yourself injured. While I'm sure there are benefits to doing CrossFit (as there are with just about any workout method) I'll be sticking with more traditional, time-tested, proven ways of training.

      • Anonymous on April 11, 2012 at 12:27 am

        A good way to injure yourself is my main issue with CF as well! Although, it gives me clients.

      • Anonymous on September 22, 2012 at 5:39 am

        I think with any popular training program, you run this risk. I CF and I love it – the biggest problem I see is the programming. No two gyms are alike and just about anyone can open a CF gym. There was a 2 month period where I didn't do CF because the gyms in my area were just terrible. It's so hard for new people who have no idea what's going on to know that they're being 'trained' in an irresponsible manner. If someone is a novice with regards to exercise/training, then they'll have no idea that they are receiving harmful 'training'. Sadly, it's hard to explain this to people; there ARE probably more careless/bad CF gyms than there are good and because of this, CF gets a bad name. I love CF and I love the gym where I get to workout; we have great coaches who are cognizant of everyone's abilities and limitations and they make sure that workouts are properly subbed/scaled when needed. This just isn't the case with most gyms and it's hard to defend something like CF when you know there are other gyms that shouldn't exist.

        People who say that CF will make you "better" at your specialty are ignorant & smug; everyone knows that training for your sport is what will make you better. I remember a new member asking one of the owner's of the gym if CF would improve his basketball game; he said "Improve it? Possibly . But if you were to stop basketball training and do only CF – then, no. If you play a sport, you need to train for your sport to get better at it, plain & simple." People just don't get it … that new girl who walks into a CF gym for the first time and is told to do 160 burpees will never go back and will forever hate CF because some jerk wanted to prove that he could get people to do whatever he wrote on a whiteboard.

      • Anonymous on May 26, 2013 at 4:11 pm

        After all, no one ever gets injured just running! I've experimented with all of it. For 10 yrs I did nothing but standard periodized training with a variety of coaches, while competing in about 60 triathlons, including 3 Ironman events. I ended up with the ability to run and ride all day, but couldn't do 3 pull-ups. My last few years I added 2-3 strength sessions per week which included basic power and olympic lifts and body weight exercises. My race results were the same, but I recovered quicker, was less injured, and just felt healthier and stronger. I think too much of anything is too much. If I had olympic running DNA, and was in my 20's, load me up with miles! As a middle aged guy, looking for a challenge and adventure, the diversity is good.

      • Billy Calvert on April 7, 2014 at 6:01 pm

        Crossfit has an estimated 3.1 injuries per 1000 hours of training. Running has 30 per 1000 hours. Explain to me which one of those seems more injurious,

    7. Anonymous on January 13, 2012 at 5:25 am

      Great article. I Like some of CFE but i dont understand how they can claim you can do ultra distance events by doing just the wod. How can you train your body to deal with being on a bike for 6+ hours by doing interval training? And running 2 5k's back to back doesnt prep you for a 50 mile run. No possible way. Its like you said almost anyone can finish a marathon but that doesnt mean cfe will make you able to do it betelter or more efficiently. Thanks again for the article

      • Anonymous on February 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

        That's why there is CF ENDURE…because CF WODs alone do not suit the needs of ultra distance athletes. Experience it before you exploit it…goes for the author of the blog as well.

      • Anonymous on June 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

        CFE still has the same issues tightwad ^ They both suck.

    8. Steve Magness on January 13, 2012 at 5:50 am

      Thanks for the comments everyone.

      -Boris- Bingo! hit the nail on the head.

      -Chris- You're right I do overgeneralize. That's the nature of the beast in addressing a big field. It's just like when you talk about Lydiard disciples for example. I tried to stick with the core concepts in generalizing.

      Narendra-Sorry about not being more specific. But CF= workouts only. So you have tempos/all out time trials, short intervals and long intervals to a degree…My point was technically it is ALL quality. All intensity…nothing else

      Maybe I will be surprised. But we have a centuries worth of endurance training that tells me I'm probably not. And I have nothing wrong with strength. Strength training can be good, but CF does a poor job of even that compared to accepted methods. It's why even Decathletes don't use CF. And CFE model of form is poor too (POSE)…soo ya.

      And give me a break on Ryan Hall. He went from running 120s down to 100s or something to that affect. He's got a lifetime of mileage behind him. He's hardly your model. There is no model for what you're suggesting in the endurance world.

      • Anonymous on February 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm

        So why has crossfit become the main training method for soldiers?

      • Anonymous on March 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm

        Eh what? It hasn't and never will be (unless you want weaker, slower, more injured soldiers)

      • Anonymous on June 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm

        In the British Army at least, we're as divided about CF as everyone else, some of us love it, some hate it, but as a general rule soldiers are looking for the all round fitness CF offers, not performance specific fitness

      • Greg on October 7, 2012 at 2:24 am

        All the Navy SEALs that train with us don't seem to mind the workout. Most people just criticize CrossFit and don't really have a clue. I live in VA beach and we have a LARGE community of SEALs and Navy EOD that train with us. People just get all butt hurt when it goes against their religious ideals of fitness. Get over it and quit being such a bitch.

      • Anonymous on February 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

        RE:Anonymous2:43 PM
        Eh what? It hasn't and never will be (unless you want weaker, slower, more injured soldiers)

        Since you reference I will assume that you are aware that Mark Devine the sites creator/owner is also the owner of SEALFIT. Mark Devine is also a affiliate of CrossFit under US CrossFit. SealFit uses the CF/CFE style of programming.

      • Boris Hornbei on December 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm

        Have any of you read "Inside Delta Force"? Running 20 miles at sub-7:00 pace is not something your average Crossfit practitioner, soldier or not, can do. If you want endurance, day after day, you don't train half of your endurance mechanism. You train it all, as indicated by the research Steve cited.

        In the end, the proof is in the pudding. The CF advocates claim that competitive marathoners could improve their times if they only did CF and did no traditional endurance work. As Peter Snell wrily pointed out when commenting on interval-training advocates: "Where are the results?" The Kenyans do Lydiard-style training. Which, as Steve pointed out, is not just jogging around. Lydiard's athletes did three main workouts every week: a long, very hilly run of 22 miles at 7:00 pace (base season start), and 6:00 pace at the end of base phase; a 10-mile very hilly run at estimated 85% MHR average, and a 15-mile very hill run at estimated 80% MHR (very rough HR figures based on a close reading of Healthy Intelligent Training, official training guide of the Lydiard Foundation). That's not jogging about.

        For comparison's sake, Bill "Mad Dog" Scobey, a leading interval-trained runner of the early 1970s, had a marathon PR of 2:15. Scobey was famous for doing 10 miles of 100-yard dashes. The guy was talented. It's surely at least worth speculating whether he'd have done better if he'd trained the other half of his endurance metabolism.

    9. Torrey Hoffman on January 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

      A response from an ordinary Crossfitter…

      I think there a little misunderstanding about the goals of Crossfit. They're really different than the goals of running trainers like yourself.

      Now, that misunderstanding may very well have been provoked by the big mouths and too-extravagant claims of some Crossfit or CFE thought leaders. I see some of those and groan. Sorry.

      Big mouths aside, I think we all understand that Crossfit is not going to make you a world class endurance runner.

      But, the goal of Crossfit is not to be 99th percentile endurance runner. Or 10K or 5K. It's not to be 99th percentile at any one thing.

      The goal of Crossfit is to be _good_ at _everything_.

      That's my goal. I know I'm not going to win the 10K I'm entered in in April, but I'll turn in a decent time, 40min I hope, and have fun at it. I know I'll get smoked by the top runners.

      But, the day after that race, I'll go to the Crossfit box and bang out X rounds of Y deadlifts and Z pullups (or whatever) in a time that those top runners couldn't match.

      Different goals.

      Different training methods for different goals.

      Anyway… Sorry about the big mouths some Crossfitters have. It's unnecessary and juvenile. Thanks for the science references, they're interesting.

      • Epic on June 14, 2012 at 2:38 am

        So, you're saying you suck at what runners are good at, but you're better than runners at what they don't do? Embrace that mediocrity, bruh.

      • Anonymous on June 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm

        I dunno, I'm a runner, and sometimes I do think I would like to trade some of my running ability for a bit more diversity. That said, I quickly remember why I love running and go for another one

      • Anonymous on August 8, 2012 at 3:01 am

        No epic. He is saying he has different goals. Now go focus on one element of fitness and run in circles, bruh.

      • Anonymous on August 18, 2012 at 7:32 am

        So Epic, do you place in every race you enter, since you're such a serious runner? (My luck, you actually do, lol!) This is classic "running is life" mentality, and usually those who believe this have zero muscle in their upper bodies, because the endless, chronic cardio has eaten up every bit of potential mass and they don't do anything to rebuild it when they're not pounding pavement. For women especially, endless running with nothing to balance it is not the solution either…longtime runner myself, and in my 30s I've had no choice but to diversify or find myself gaining weight no matter how much I run (I've done half marathons and my longest run ever was 18 miles) with weak, weak upper body muscles and a ravenous appetite for all the wrong foods. Most of us aren't elite runners, and the specialization mindset only matters if you're trying to excel at a particular sport. I'm no athlete, just someone looking to be healthy and look nice naked.

      • Anonymous on August 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm

        Well "Epic" what this person is saying is that while runners are GREAT at what they do, crossfitters are GOOD at multiple things.

      • Anonymous on November 23, 2012 at 12:21 am

        ummm heard of something called the Decathlon? Athletes use scientific training methods, not crossfit.

      • Dan McCarthy on February 16, 2013 at 7:13 pm

        Yes, well decathletes are not GENERALISTS. They are focusing on their 10 specific skills. Just because they have more than one specific skill doesn't mean that they are generalists. We need to stop comparing elite, professional athletes to the average person.
        I can tell you that I used to train LSD only (because that's what I was taught by trainers and books), and I finished a few triathlons and half marathons and the such. Now that I CrossFit, ALL of my run/tri times have gotten faster, and I can also deadlift 420lbs, do 30 unbroken pullups, row a 1:29 500m split, clean 90kg, etc…
        So that's why i do CF. I look better than I ever did when I was running, I'm injured far less, and I'm far more fit. Bashing it serves no purpose. If you don't like it, don't do it. Simple as that.

      • Mandy on March 17, 2013 at 11:04 pm

        I agree with you Torrey… I'm an "average" person who just likes to do different kinds of workouts throughout the week, otherwise I get bored and quit working out. Some days I run 3-9 miles, sometimes I swim, sometimes I go XC skiing, some days yoga, etc. For us "average" folks who don't have a goal of finishing a race at a specific time, CF is just a fun way to work out with friends a few times a week and be pushed beyond what we'd maybe do if we went to the gym alone (I can never do as many pushups or pullups without having someone encourage me). Maybe crazy crossfitters like to make a bunch of claims to get business, but most of us just go for fun because we like to exercise in a group setting. As a woman, I feel intimidated sometimes at my neighborhood gym if I try to lift weights by myself, but at CF I enjoy it because there are no mirrors and no meat heads wandering around flexing their muscles – we just all do the WOD and go home! Simple and refreshing! But I still value my long runs, swimming, etc – Some of us just like variety and the group class setting!

      • Anonymous on June 24, 2013 at 1:18 am


        Well said. As a long time runner I am tired of being a brittle little pussy and think that adding some strength and mobility training is making me a much better all around athlete.

        By the way those of you scared of CrossFit might want to do some research on what sport has the highest injury rate. It is called running.

      • Anonymous on June 25, 2013 at 2:40 am

        Quick thing here, as someone who has actually trained with weights… doing them in a certain time, as in faster… is better?? Riiight, sorry, but I can't honestly buy the rest of your response now.

      • Boris Hornbei on December 27, 2013 at 7:15 pm

        Agree completely. Read Barry Ross's literature. Ross was Allyson Felix's weights coach in high school. He has sprinters do very heavy deadlifts (at least 85% 1RM) in short sets to avoid soreness. The reps are performed slowly. Reasoning is that it develops the trainable FT fibers. Worked for Felix, clearly.

      • Robbie Wynne on January 15, 2015 at 7:55 pm

        ^^^ Incorrect. Force = Mass * Acceleration. If the mass is constant (85% of 1RM), and the acceleration is lowered (because the bar speed is intentionally slowed on the concentric phase of the lift due to the coach's faulty reasoning), then the force production is inherently lowered. Maximal recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers entails high force production requirements for short durations of time at fast contractile speeds. Not lower/sustainable force production requirements for long durations of time at slow contractile speeds. (Conversely, those latter more oxidative traits would be characteristic of your Type IA, or "slow" twitch fibers.) This is basic, basic physics and exercise physiology guys. Felix got results in spite of this particular strength training method, clearly. I came here to learn more about endurance training, not how to incorrectly strength train. #facepalm

    10. RICK'S RUNNING on January 13, 2012 at 9:50 am

      Great article and I'm with you all the way apart from dumping the girl because she was into crossfit!
      I mean thats just pure mean!

    11. Ryan Harlan on January 13, 2012 at 11:14 am

      As a professional Decathlete I can say I have done CrossFit workouts and they are basically what we would do in the off season. For the short time I tried CF I still went to the track after and did my normal workout, I was using the CF as a general warmup. CF is not for the professional athlete looking for performance gains. CF is about being fit, and for the general population CF is better than many other workout routines, but for performance based athletes I personally do not see any gains for doing CF, except maybe some variety in the offseason, but not for any length of time. Tom Pappas (now that he has officially retired from professional Decathlons) has now opened a CF studio himself, and I am sure he sees some benefit for most people (general population), but CF workouts are very different from what us decathletes do, and in my opinion are not ideal or even close to ideal for anyone looking for performance but mainly for fitness level.

      • Anonymous on February 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm

        Hey Ryan…been a while…glad to see you doing well! I also opened a gym a couple of years ago and am loving CF in my retirement. I think you nailed it. Great for GPP, but not peak power performance sports like the dec.

        Joe Cebulski

    12. Mike LaChapelle on January 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Great post, Steve. I've written a few posts on CFE and recently issued a public challenge to author Tim Ferriss to use 12 weeks of CFE training and run a 50K ultramarathon, as he claimed was possible in his book, The 4-Hour Body, or donate $50K to charity.

      • Anonymous on June 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm

        No one trains for an ultra marathon in 12 weeks you moron. Even CFE teaches that it could take over a year to train for something like that if it's something new to you.

      • Melissa on November 26, 2012 at 3:17 am

        Sounds to me like the AUTHOR of the book claimed he could train for an ultra using CFE in 12 weeks. So, if anyone should be called a moron, it's Ferriss.

        You can't train for a 50K in 12 weeks if you're going from nothing to ultra, but if you have a reasonable base (able to run 8+ miles regularly)it is possible to be 50K ready in that time. You basically marathon train (common marathon plans are 12-16 weeks) with slightly longer LSD runs. Peaking at a 24-26 mile run rather than the usual 20-22. Tt's doable.

        A 50 miler is a different beast. I used 50K training as 50 miler training and then added some serious back to back long runs (20/30, 20/25) to get used to that sort of distance without blowing up. You need a few months, at least in my experience, to get up to 50 miler ultras. But I'm no elite, just a normal person.

      • Dave on January 25, 2013 at 1:24 am

        First off I'll say from personal experience of both performance running and CF/CFE, I agree with the article. Also the CF/CFE hype is annoying and lack of quality control of gyms is a serious (google Rob Wolfe – trouble with crossfit).

        However if your aim is to finish an ultra rather than perform then 12 weeks is possible.
        For 3 years the coach has successfully taken a group of fit individuals (but for the most part non-runners) and trained them using CFE methods for 12 weeks (less than 20km of actual running per week), then gone and done a multiday ultra run.

        In August 2011 three guys did roughly 40km/day for 8 days running Auckland to Wellington. In December 2012 the coach ran 680km in 9 days (he actually did 922km but wear and tear forced him to cycle and walk much of the last few hundred).

        Kiwi Conditioning athletes, using the CF/CFE protocols have completed runs around NZ (60k, 100k, 160k). Don't get me wrong, the high volume athletes have completely dominated the CFE athletes, but the 12 weeks of CFE training to running a 50K ultramarathon HAS been done and then some.

    13. Alex Beecher on January 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      I love a good CF bashing, but I'm intrigued more by point 9. Specifically, assuming endurance performance is the goal, how might one best set up their workouts? Specifically, I'm thinking in regards to hill sprints and other fast twitch stuff, which is usually placed at the end of easy running. That would be an awesome point to devote a post to, in my opinion.

    14. migangelo on January 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      i've always thought of CF as a crazy fad with not much point to the way they workout. you did a pretty good job of putting my feelings into words that i didn't have. i do have a question for you. point #9 about not doing strength then endurance. any suggestions on what to do or literature where you can point me to learn more?

      • Anonymous on June 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm

        Everyone who works out crossfits dummy. Crossfit isn't a style of working out. They haven't claimed to have reinvented the wheel. They are aware that they do the same things that have been done all throughout history. They just do it as a community. Crossfit is running, running is crossfit. If you've ever ran, then you sir have crossfitted. Good on you for joining that "crazy fad."

    15. Martin Bingisser on January 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      To bring a non-running perspective to the table, the same can be said about other events and crossfit. I often reach out to crossfit members since there gyms are some of the few that have Olympic lifting facilities when I am travelling (this is one benefit of CF). However, each and every one tries to convince me that crossfit is in some way superior to the training plan I have that was individualized and written for me by an Olympic champion. This is not just the founders talking, it comes to me from every day members of clubs around the world.

      I am open to new ideas, but I'm not willing to waste training time on something that is not tailored to my event and its needs, not tailored to my individual characteristics, not periodized to my goals, and has no track record of success among elite track and field athletes. This arrogance turns me off to CF, even though I can see many advantageous it may have to non-elite athletes. You couldn't have summarized it better Steve and keep up the great posts…even throwers find they can learn something from them.

    16. CultFit on January 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      Very well written and easily digestible. Now that X-Fit is full on retard Reebok X-Fit, articles like this are needed even more to battle the myth that is all things X-Fit.

    17. Anonymous on January 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      I harp on people to know there history
      I harp on people to know THEIR history

      Great article! You went over a lot of the issues I have with CF, but from the strength training perspective (Mark Rippetoe: I don't want my muscles to be "confused", I want them to know exactly what the hell they're supposed to be doing!). Thanks

    18. Anonymous on January 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      Steve, you have great balance and sense of the big picture. And thanks for posting Seiller's link, there's a big emphasis today by cyclists/triathletes with powermeters being focused on FTP workouts (or what runners know as tempo). It is just one type of workout to be put in the mix.

      Mike LaChapelle, make sure you structure that challenge properly. As Steve points out, finishing is not racing. Read this –
      You can search more for a full account of this bet, but it affirms that Steve could finish a marathon off no training (he could probably to a 100 mile ultra too).

    19. Michael on January 14, 2012 at 12:02 am

      Could you elaborate on this a little: "This goes for not only sequencing of endurance and strength work, but also in regards to sequencing different strength workouts. You have to know what pre-fatiguing muscles does to the subsequent training effect. And you have to know what the effect is on the Central Nervous System."

      What is the best way to structure endurance and strength work?

    20. Curb on January 14, 2012 at 3:30 am

      Well said Steve. As both a strength & conditioning coach and running coach I agree with your take on CFE. The express goal of CF is to be a "generalist"…overall fitness. (And even then, there are many ways to develop a high level of general fitness apart from CF). But if you want to run distance, you better be prepared to specialize.

      As to your comment about competing vs. completing a given distance: When asked about this at an ACSM conference a couple of years ago, Jack Daniels said his advice to anyone who was simply looking to complete a marathon would be to rest up as much as possible beforehand.

    21. Chris Gaggia on January 14, 2012 at 4:04 am

      The best way to debunk CFE is to simply put it to the test for oneself.

      From October of 2009 to May 2010 I did CF and CFE to train for my local ultra, Bishop High Sierra Ultramarathon. I followed the 3 days on, 1 off base of CF (6 workouts a week) and did CFE workouts 3 days a week for an average weekly mileage of around 12-14. I have all my running data leading up to the day–I think I ran barely more than 200 miles total volume, with much of my longer workouts being in the form of 5k-10k – 1/2 marathon trail races (for the intensity.) I did AT and tempo runs, track speedwork, tabata, etc. I also ate as "Paleo" as I could, with the exception that I used GU and Endurox R4–I couldn't stop believing in immediately useable fuel. In short, I gave "the program" as honest a try as any non-professional athlete could.

      The result was an 11:40 finish at the 50 miler (about 7,800k of vertical, 25 miles run above 7,000ft.) I nearly dropped at mile 20 or so as I was cramping like I've never cramped in my life–quads, hamstrings and calves all firing like mad. I was taking electrolytes and hydrating as I had in prior events without an issue, so I wasn't sure what caused that. I recovered relatively quickly from the event, but was not impressed enough beyond "finishing" to continue the "new" way. One thing I'll say about CF or any program that throws lots of intensity at you–it resets your brain's threshold/pain tolerance in a positive way. The downside is that you end up on a razor's edge recovery wise. Your central nervous system simply takes a beating. Add in any normal life stresses and you'd better have your own private retreat to live in for adequate recovery. Not my case with two kids, full time teaching, etc.

      After the CFE experiment I decided to return to my old training methods which are essentially Lydiard. I ran relatively high volume weeks and lower, more traditional intensities, with only a light load of threshold work thrown in. I ran a lot more vertical, but kept the HR down on those efforts so I was almost exclusively hiking the steep ups (anything over about 400ft per mile). I did zero CF or CFE (and I don't think they are bad for VARIETY or fun cross training.) The results (to compare apples and apples) I ran the 100k course at Bishop ultras in just under 13 hours. The 100k course is the 50 mile course with a left turn thrown in at about mile 48 which then takes you on another 1,400ft of climbing, plus the extra miles. Three weeks prior I had run 9:08 at the Leona Divide 50 mile which is about 8,000ft of vertical and lots of single track. Two months after Bishop 100k I ran 26:40 at Angeles Crest 100 (my first 100 miler). Between Bishop 100k and AC I ran/hiked about 450 miles all at low intensity, but with lots of vertical (peaking at 22k one week.)

      According to CFE, I should have been a slow, broken down shitbag of overtraining. Yet I was sick or injured zero days. Also, apart from the 3 100 mile weeks i put in, my average training week in hours was no different that when I did CF and CFE–about 9 hours. Also, my recovery from my events, including AC 100, was remarkable. I always walked normally, was able to run, squat, jump, etc. Zero problems.

      To summarize for my personal experiment of one 41 year old male midpack runner:

      8 months/200 miles of intensity: Bishop 50 miler: 11:40

      10 months/2000+ miles of "traditional" training:
      Bishop 100k 12:54
      Angeles Crest 100 mile: 26:40
      Leona Divide 50 mile: 9:08
      zero injuries, zero training days missed due to illness/fatigue

      But your results may vary.

      • Robert on March 28, 2015 at 9:15 pm


        Thanks for your comment and unlike all of the sub-20 min (and sub-18 min and sub-15min…) min 5kers below, you put your times up for actual events. I checked ultrasignup- great that you rounded up as well.

        I think that just about anyone who has done ultramarathons with the intention to compete (not just complete) would describe a similar experience to yours. There is no replacement for the volume and to be "sharp" periodization is proven.

        As far as all of the performance claims in the other pro-CF/CFE comments here, none are substantiated and therefore for discussion purposes the associated comments are unfounded. But this "claim without supporting documentation (or research)", of course, is part and parcel of the CF/CFE culture and marketing.

        In the end CF/CFE is a group activity for those who like or need groups for motivation and peer pressure and want the camaraderie along with a workout- great! I am glad that they are exercising and not sitting on a couch watching TV.

        Real runners are pretty much loners who like to train alone most of the time, so you will not be seeing many real runners in CF/CFE programs. But if CF/CFE is such a great and superior training regimen for runners, then we should be seeing an increasingly large influx of CF/CFE devotees in the top results. So far this has not happened. I will stay tuned. But in the meantime I will stick to Lydiard-type protocols.

    22. Dylan on January 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      Let me just say, I love your blog and coaching philosophy. I very much enjoyed this article (although it's sort of like preaching to the choir for me– I wrote an entire paper about the necessity of endurance training for endurance athletes, essentially an anti-CFE/anti-only-do-HIIT argument).

      Side note: your article "strength training for distance runners" has been down forever. Where did it go?

    23. Rachel Eisenman on January 14, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      Good points that highlight the need for systematic training as well as the fitness consumer's desire for "dramatic results they can really feel working" right away.

      Between slick marketing and false advertising, that expectation isn't going to change anytime soon. It's what keeps us all writing the truth about fitness.

    24. Anonymous on January 15, 2012 at 3:08 am

      Very well written blog post and as accurate as one can get when discussing something broad, general, and inclusive as CF states it is.

      CF is a "generalization" by the very definition(s) Glassman has documented on video and CF journals. If anyone is doing anything planned or with purpose, then by CF's definition that person is not doing CF. There is no reasoning with most CF'ers. They blindly repeat whatever their "leaders" spit out. The marketing machine is scary dangerous. It really shows how people are lemmings who cannot think for themselves nor do their own research. One size does not fit all, but the huckster's are doing a good job of convincing the public their is a one size fits all and it's CF.

      For those that say CF is for the general population….that is a gross generalization. As a former affiliate owner, it is not far from the truth to say the majority of affiliates will cave and allow clients to do things they have no business doing…such as kipping pull-ups, muscle-ups, snatch and cleans (without spending the time to learn the movements well). Most clients would be better off spending the time to learn a few compound movements well to develop strength, developing a strong aerobic base using traditional methods, and correcting flexibility/mobility/orthopedic issues they developed over a life time. It is rather comical how they spew the BS of learning mechanics first, then doing the movements consistently well, and only after the previous have been met will they add intensity. Just go to any of the affiliate websites and watch their videos.

      For those that defend it's use and state it is known CF is not for the elite athlete, you need to do your research. CF promotes the lie that the needs of an Olympic Athlete and "Joe Shit The Rag Man" differs only by degree not kind. Yes it is true that everyone needs strength, power, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, etc….yet there are better and safer ways to achieve this than by marketing hype that makes people think they can become "elite" or "Navy Seal Killers". People defend it because they fell for the BS (as I did at one time) and have invested a lot into being a part of the hype. Most are too proud to admit they may have been wrong to a degree.

      Unfortunately everyone is trying to make a buck off of the hype and marketing machine CF has become. Even those that bash it on their blogs, find ways to kiss enough ass to keep some CF'ers buying their programs. Some credible coaches have sold their souls to CF….I am glad to see Rip was one of the few to have the heart to separate himself.

    25. Fuzzy on January 15, 2012 at 8:39 am

      From a fat boy on the other side of the fence (powerlifting) it's nice to see we have some allies on either side of crossfit.

      Excellent article.

    26. Anonymous on January 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      You want to be an elite runner and compete in a marathon, do what you do. You want to run a sub 20 min 5K, deadlift 500 lbs, be able to do 30 pull-ups in a row, clean and jerk 300 lbs, do what we do. It's that simple. Oh and don't delete people's comments who don't agree with you. It's just not good science.

      And I noticed you said one of the goals of CF and CFE was hypertrophy? You truly don't know what CF is about, don't be an idiot.

      • Anonymous on February 2, 2012 at 12:03 am

        As a coach, powerlifter and teacher your comment is fundamentally wrong. Are you telling me the average person will be able to deadlift 500 pounds, do 30 pull-ups and clean 300 pounds? If you are saying this, then you definitely need to be educated. I'm guessing you are making a generalization. That's like me saying, run 100 weeks and you'll run a 2:20 marathon. There needs to be a combination of strength, distance, speed and threshold work to accurately get the proper balance.

      • The Sean on February 17, 2012 at 3:06 am

        I'd have to wager that an elite marathoner would be very capable of running sub 20 for 5k… good science 😉

      • Anonymous on March 4, 2012 at 6:40 am

        An ELITE male marathoner would run a 5K in around 15 minutes. And I would be very surprised to see them match one of my females with less than a year of training in the deadlift. I certainly know folks who can DL 500 and run a sub-20 5K. It's called CrossFit…

        – Evil Anti-Science CrossFit Affiliate Owner Guy

      • Anonymous on March 17, 2012 at 11:45 pm

        ELITE male marathoners run a 5K under 14 minutes.

      • Anonymous on April 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm

        No, ELITE MALE marathoners run a 5K in under 12:12 minutes. End of dicussion.

      • Anonymous on October 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm

        To Evil Anti-Science CorssFit Affiliate Owner Guy: An elite male marathoner could run a 5k in under 13 minutes. In case you're wondering, the outcome of races are determined by who runs the fastest, not who deadlifts the most. Way to go, genius.

        I certainly know folks that have torn rotator cuffs, wrecks knees, elbow tendonitis, lumbar spondylolysis, herniated disks, etc.–all from doing bad deadlifts and kip-ups. It's called CrossFit…

        -Evil Anti-CrossFit Guy That Laughs at Narcissistic CrossFitters

    27. Anonymous on January 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      Don't listen to Rude Anonymous. Obviously doesn't have a clue- needs to get off your blog site. Keep up the good articles that make you think Steve. Thanks.

    28. Per on January 15, 2012 at 11:26 pm
    29. Cait the Arty Runnerchick on January 16, 2012 at 12:48 am

      Thanks for the post and I enjoyed reading it! Like one of the other commenters I sort of thought CF was just a fad type workout and based on my own experience in any kind of training I've done, I thought CF was just a bit silly. So it's nice/interesting to read the actual scientific reasons behind why it seemed a bit ridiculous.

      A couple of things that made me kind of laugh were the people who do CF and say their goal is, "to be good at everything" well…isn't that a tad ambiguous? The other is I'm glad you said how there is a big difference between racing a marathon (or any distance) and just wanting to finish. It's like the difference between wanting to be the best runner you can be or the general person just wanting to lose weight/look better/more fit/be able to run.

    30. Anonymous on January 16, 2012 at 4:42 am

      "You want to run a sub 20 min 5K, deadlift 500 lbs, be able to do 30 pull-ups in a row, clean and jerk 300 lbs, do what we do"

      You are delusional and it is a false statement. 99% of those coming into CF will NEVER deadlift 500lbs and clean 300lbs. Those that can come from a power based background, are genetically gifted, and /or do a strength/power based workout which is planned…..hence that is not CF by CF's very definition. Put down the kool-aid, stop thinking CF'ers are special, and think for yourself.

      • Robbie Wynne on January 15, 2015 at 8:27 pm

        I was able to reach and pass those numbers in 5 years through CF. No genetic gifts here! haha Before CF, I was a sedentary fatty in a HS drumline who played video games all day.

        …FYI CrossFit's "Constant Variation" doesn't mean "Randomization." The variation must be planned for. (Aka periodization.) Dave Castro and his Seminar Staff have told me about this need for a structured program in person. You obviously don't know the definition of CF very well.

    31. Kevin Do on January 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Narendra Yeah he runs less, but from 120 to a 100. Is that volume crossfit approved?

      Hall’s pre-Boston recovery strategies remain intact (weekly mileage at 100, down from 120, multiple easy days between hard workouts, days off).

    32. doclawson on January 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      I don't have any objection to the crossfit thing as a fitness matter, I object to the attitude that pervades the crossfit community. A recent 50k I ran was infested with a dozen or so loud, obnoxious, high-fiving, overweight, crossfit jerks. I'm sure they could all kick my ass in a fight, but I don't think a one of them finished the race.

      Oh, and don't get me started on the Tough Mudders.

      • Steven on February 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm

        I doubt you could finish a tough mudder. And no we aren't all obnoxious, but we do encourage and support each other, whereas most runners just stay in there own little world.

      • Anonymous on August 20, 2012 at 7:42 pm

        I think you'll find loud, obnoxious, high-fiving, overweight jerks in any event that you go to, including marathons and half-marathons. I've done several half-marathons and just finished my first Tough Mudder. I have to say, I had a lot more fun during the Tough Mudder than I've ever had during a half-marathon. Having said that, I'm thankful for all the hill runs I did during my half-marathon training because I couldn't have finished the Tough Mudder without it. But then, I couldn't have done the wall climbs and monkey bars without the Crossfit training that I did. Is there really no room for both?

    33. Anonymous on January 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      "You want to run a sub 20 min 5K, deadlift 500 lbs, be able to do 30 pull-ups in a row, clean and jerk 300 lbs, do what we do"

      Really, you guys all run a sub 20min 5k? That kind of performance certainly doesn't come from the crossfit facilities in my area. I do see a lot of them in my physical therapy clinic though. Crossfit has been great for my practice, but from a performance perspective I haven't found a successful athlete who subscribes to crossfit training as long term approach to improving their performance.

    34. Anonymous on January 17, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      You are so far off it's not even funny and clearly you know nothing about CF or CFE. Typical hater.

    35. fretless on January 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Really interesting points. Glad to have stumbled across this. Going to go put a link to your blog from mine…

    36. Anonymous on January 17, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      From 100km ultras, 24hr solo MTB races and adventure races, I love endurance races. I have had some good finish times and some bad ones but mostly a middle of the pack competitor,I also love crossfit and Kettlebells. I love the overall fitness and feel that crossfit gives your body, but know from experience that LSD is the only thing that can prepare your body fully for that 6 hr+ distance, yes sadly there are some wild claims and some atrocious technique amongst crossfitters, the general principle for overall fitness is good. Because its new, doesn't make it wrong and I think it will change and progress to meet each athletes demands, I know I use it and chance it to meet my needs.

    37. Jon-Erik Kawamoto, B.Sc. (KIN), CSCS, CEP, FMS-1 on January 17, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      Hey Steve,

      Thanks very much for putting the time into writing this post. You brought up excellent points. I'm a Strength Coach and also a Grad student in Exercise Phys. I'm not a supporter of Crossfit but enjoy high intense workouts (running and weights). I ran competitively for 9 years and don't think for a second I would supplement my running program with crossfit workouts. Keep up the great work.


    38. John Tuggle on January 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Great article. It points out that we should continue to look at new ideas, but avoid unproven fads based on minimal results. I do think that for people that are not doing any form of exercise, just getting out there is great and maybe CF is for them, but for people that take their discipline to the next level, you are going to need more than a CF approach.

    39. Anonymous on January 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm


      A few random thoughts, but first a disclaimer, I've never used CF, so I can't comment on the majority of your post (well written BTW).

      When I saw the RW article in question I was left with a different impression altogether. It didn't strike me as an advocacy piece for CF. Rather, I simply saw it as this year's annual "abs/core" issue. RW seems to devote ab/core training to their Feb issue.

      I also thought it might have been RW's response to Running Times' recurring focus on "dynamic stretching" and "general maintenance activity".

      I've bumped into CF many times while researching strength training for runners, most web searches have several CF links. But I never delved too deeply into it because it impressed me as a bit too disjointed and lacking the focus I needed.

      Many runners seem to have gravitated to CF to fill their "cross training" void. But why CF? For many, cross training = strength training = CF. But I also think the dearth of practical material addressing the why's, how's, etc. of running – cross/strength training has led many to make uniformed decisions.

      So in addition to debunking CF, please also address whether there's a place for strength training in a runner's training regime. If so, explain which exercises should be performed (i.e. muscles being targeted & why they're important for runners, sets, reps etc.). Please don't use the words "it depends", which turns reasoned advice into mush.

      It would also be great if you would elaborate further on:

      "This goes for not only sequencing of endurance and strength work, but also in regards to sequencing different strength workouts. You have to know what pre-fatiguing muscles does to the subsequent training effect. And you have to know what the effect is on the Central Nervous System."

      An earlier comment said it best 'What is the best way to structure endurance and strength work?'

      Thanks – great blog!

    40. Robert on January 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

      Hi Steve,

      I wonder if early examples of high intensity training being used is rather different than modern example of doing similar style of training. 50+ years ago the average lifestyle was very different to what Americans and western Europeans experience now – previously we used walk places, used work doing hard manual labour and be on out feet much of the day, this would have given us quite a different aerobic base to build from.

      These days it's typical to travel to work or school by car, even taking the car for short journeys. Leisure activities from childhood onwards are typically less active. Most of us study and work sat down with a HR barely above our resting HR. This certainly impacts our aerobic base.

      So I'd say that using high intensity works alone is far less likely to achieve the results that it once would have done.


    41. Anonymous on January 24, 2012 at 2:28 am

      This is entirely unrelated to this particular blog but I know that you have some back ground with excercise induced asthma and hypothyroidism. I was wondering if you could possibly write eitHer a detailed response or possibly a hole blog with info regarding these subjects and maybe tHe causes, prevention (albuterol, inhaled steroids) and how they are all correlated and what the level of prevalence is amongst elite distance runners. Also how sickness such as chest colds and the like might affect invdividuals with these problems and what we can do to fix them. Thanks a lot and all the info on this site is extremely insightful and appreciated.

    42. Colin McFerran on January 24, 2012 at 7:30 am


      You mentioned in point #9 that doing endurance work after strength work hinders hypertrophy.I'm interested to know more about this. Specifically if doing HIIT afterwards also has the same result. Is there any way of combining strength/hypertrophy with some useful cardio(for health/body composition benefits only)in a weekly regimen that avoids the problem?


    43. Mike Booth on January 29, 2012 at 1:44 am

      Good read! A few more cheap shots than I would have liked. As a former 2hr23 marathoner (nowadays might be able to crack 2hr30 ) I love doing it least 1 CF workout a week along with a few light jogs. I'm sure I would be better off doing more specialized run training, but I love the group atmosphere that CrossFit provides. Most CF coaches are very knowlegeable despite the bogus claims made by CF founders!

    44. Massage Athletica on January 29, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      Did you write this blog during your work day at Nike? Is Nike jealous they did not jump on the CrossFit bandwagon. 🙂

    45. Anonymous on January 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      I utilize Crossfit principles in my training and have done well as a result. But that is not why I'm responding.

      Many have talked about the Crossfit marketing hype/machine but I don't think there are Crossfit magazines nor have I seen a Rock and Roll Crossfit Thing that charges $100 to participate. The New York Crossfit Event doesn't have 50,000 participants. If there is a crossfit marketing machine, it sucks.

      What I do see are too many folks making statements based on what they heard from some DB running his mouth. Are there DB crossfitters who run their mouths? Yes. Are there DB 128 pound runners who run their mouths? Apparently, there are.

      Finally, I don't know when the squat, deadlift of pull up became faddish.

      And finally, finally…if any of you cared to listen to what CFE has to say…skill(technique), intesity and then volume…perhaps we could all have a serious conversation about this. That isn't likely to happen. Is it?

    46. Anonymous on January 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      Hey Magnes,

      For a guy who paints himself as a reasonable, scientific fellow you disregard a lot of the CFE methods based on what you think you know. I suspect that you think CF and CFE are entirely random (oops, you did say random) Tabata-based sprints. I would ask you to challenge to your amazing intellect and impressive resume of running and coaching by actually finding out what CFE is preaching.

      I can never remember if the shirtless crossfit idiot is more ignorant than the elitist runner with chronic injuries. Or the other way around.

    47. Anonymous on January 31, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      As a garage crossfitter I would like to add my perspective. This article does much to refute the zealous (dare I say untrue)claims by the Uber Hardcore Crossfit Devotee and to promote a balanced perspective.

      However, I would add that it is important to have an understanding of why many like myself choose to follow the crossfit or similar protocols. I began my after high school athletic life as a beanpole. Fastest 5k time was 20:30. High Average maybe? Anyways, as I saw it, nobody cares about how fast an average skinny guy can run, so then I began lifting bodybuilding splits. I put on noticeable muscle and this was great but then I could not make 2 trips up and down the basketball court without wheezing.

      I found the crossfit regimen and for me it balances both strenth and conditioning. Not to mention it's free programming and you can compare your performance with people across the globe which is pretty neat. There are tons of videos on proper form and technique on the website as well, however many will forgo technique in the interest of posting a faster time. Since I generally workout in my garage and run around the neighborhood I can make a solid performance comparison against myself when benchmarks come up because I know my technique standards are consistent.

      From what I'ver read in the previous replies, many here (and in other training disciplinces) seem pretty intelligent and know what their fitness needs are. These people could cherry pick the aspects of crossfit (if any) that suit these needs and implement them.

      I would say I'm pretty average strenthwise, Bench 275, Clean 235, Deadlift 405, 5k in about 25 minutes. None of these are world class. If i've pretty much seen the writing on the wall that I'm never going to be a competitive level athelete, why can't I be pretty good at a number of things.

      In other words whats the difference, in my case, in running a 20 minute 5k while sacrificing performance across other strength domains or a 25 minute 5k with modest improvements in overall strenth. Both running times are kind of not that great.

      Finally, The first Crossfit workout listed in their archive is dated February 2001 so I don't know how much of a "fad" it is. Plenty of programming there for people to examine and form their own opinions. It is within the past couple of years that Crossfit and Reebok have partnered and it has gone much more commercial.

      • Anonymous on March 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm

        Thank you for a sensible and reasonable comment. I'd say 95% of the CF'ers I know would agree.

      • Albert on June 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        Great point of view. I also enjoy both strength training and endurance running. Bodybuilding for 7 years and running for 3. PB on bench press 70 kg 10 reps. PB on 10K 35:24 and on half-marathon 1h20'11". In both areas I have hit a plateau for some time, and I positively know that I'm not genetically awarded and that I may not get better or just slightly better at any of this areas. But at least I have some decent endurance form I a nice, near fitness level physique, so I'm pretty happy with this achievement and I think I'll keep it this way. I have just found about CF two days ago but I think I'll give it a try.

    48. Anonymous on February 1, 2012 at 3:49 am

      When you state that Izumi Tabata worked with untrained and moderately trained individuals, were you referring to the Japanesse speed skating team? I wonder if they are as untrained as the high school atheletes you "coach?"

      Are you attacking other methodologies because you believe in what you teach or is this just marketing?

      You are a disgrace to the science of sport.

      Continue to censor at your own risk.

      • Boris Hornbei on December 27, 2013 at 7:35 pm

        Actually, Steve's article was written in response to Crossfit advocates' specific claims that high-level marathoners such as Ryan Hall could run faster if they did CF training. Steve's argument that all-round training that includes both endurance work performed at a high aerobic level, plus periodized interval training, is well supported not only by research but by elite results.

        To my way of thinking, that is the ultimate test. Science is not ultimately about studying small bodily systems in isolation, and it's very far from theorizing based on insufficient evidence. It's about results. Hypothesize, test, conclude. By that definition, the entire 20th century was a long research study in the best application of aerobic and "high-intensity" methods. Not surprisingly, the irrefutable conclusion – because based on solid, consistent, repeatable results – is that a blend of the two works best, with a strong emphasis on high-level aerobic training, and lots of low-level aerobic "recovery" runs.

        Whether intervals should be confined to a short period at the end of the endurance-building base phase, or included in weekly sessions throughout the year, is not fully known. Frank Shorter did the latter; Lydiard's runners did the former. And Renato Canova turns some features of the basic endurance training method completely upside down without forsaking its basic premises.

        In all, though, the conclusion is clear: for elite marathoners, the idea that pure intervals, or pure Crossfit would produce better results than mixed methods (e.g., Lydiard) isn't supported by the results of the century-long study.

        Which is hardly to say that CrossFit is "bad" and endurance training is "good." That's an infantile kind of thinking. Obviously, individual goals, native abilities, time constraints, and tastes play a huge role in how a person approaches exercise. And isn't that the point? Individual improvement is what matters at every level of sports, because it is what's expansive for us and therefore produces maximum happiness.

        Like Steve, I have absolutely no resentment against CrossFit. I simply find it immature and obnoxious when others, whether strength trainers or CF folks, get in my face and loudly claim that I and my elite brethren could improve if I adopted their system – and when they react defensively when the results of 100 years of experiments are presented to them.

        The West needs to get over its obsession with either/or. Almost always, the choice is individual: what works for me, physically and psychologically; not what's "right" or "wrong" in some completely abstract way.

    49. Anonymous on February 1, 2012 at 3:56 am

      You are kind of an idiot.

      Let's talk about VO2 max for a second. Explain, in clear language, why it is NOT a predictor of endurance capability. Seriously. Why is it that an athlete somewhere in the high 60s is not more likely to outperform another athlete somewhere in the high 50s?

      You are smarter than this, right? C'mon. Please tell me you are.

      • Anonymous on May 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm

        Seriously. Do some research.

      • Anonymous on November 14, 2012 at 5:32 am

        Seriously, get into a lab and learn about the effect of endurance training on mitochondrial enzymes. I'm an ex-still-kind-of-CrossFit Trainer, but have been around long enough to know that high-rep oly-lifts are not the way to go….. Sooner or later, everyone who does not have their head up their ass recognizes that there are many things wrong with the business that is Cross Fit, but I digress…..
        As long as Athletes Performance and Core Performance are around, everyone else is just #2……

      • Anonymous on August 15, 2013 at 7:20 pm

        is this a joke?

      • Boris Hornbei on December 27, 2013 at 7:37 pm

        Timothy Noakes, MD, the highly respected sports physiologist, lays the explanation out very clearly in Lore of Running. See his chart of the VO2Max figures for famous endurance runners – all are relatively high compared to the sedentary population. But they're all over the map relative to each other, with almost no correlation with race times.

    50. Anonymous on February 7, 2012 at 4:13 am

      This is amusing… truly. It's funny that the people who go to my crossfit gym are in far superior shape in comparison to the people I see in the gym. I'll put my time, money and trust in crossfit. The more popular it gets the more the haters come out

      • Anonymous on July 15, 2012 at 6:14 am

        In my area:
        3 crossfits (each one has no more than 50 members)
        10+ gyms
        10+ big community centers

        And only 5% CF members would I even consider come close to college athlete material. Which is what I think is easy and fair standard for superior shape your talking about.

        Where do you think all of us former college athletes that graduate each year workout at. I can tell you if it was crossfit you would have a much higher superior shape standard to go by.

        But unfortunately for crossfit most of us workout in normal gym by ourselves or with few others seeking the same thing. Not to mention the hours most of us put in to train or practice with people in our own sport.

        I think its fair to say if the number of recent college athlete grads dwarfs the number of superior crossfit members. Then its fair to say your more likely to find superior shape you mention really at gym than at your crossfit with 50 of the same members.

      • Anonymous on October 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm

        Since you are a college "grad" did you happen to notice the complete over use of the word "I" in your post? It can be completely disregarded as purely your opinion with absolutely zero scientific backing. Just because "YOU" don't think crossfitters are capable collegiate athletes means well…nothing.

      • Anonymous on November 23, 2012 at 12:35 am

        Science? What's that?
        From the Crossfit FAQ:
        10. The world's most successful athletes and coaches rely on exercise science the way deer hunters rely on the accordion."

    51. Anonymous on February 8, 2012 at 7:27 pm

      Have never done CF, and probably won't because of the general attitute of the people. I liken them to Club/Select Soccer parents: "My kid plays select soccer. He's going to get a full ride to a 4-year college. We've got 20 exposure tournaments scheduled." Is it really select, or select w/ money. They've all drunk the Kool-Aid and won't wake up until it's too late.

    52. Anonymous on February 8, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      Well, this has been an enjoyable read. My two cents:

      I am a track and field coach who specializes in speed/power events, not endurance. I have done some crossfit type workouts. During our general prep period, we use some stuff that is similar. I think it's absolutely GREAT for people like me who are well past their competitive prime and want to have better fitness efficiently.

      With all that said, it amazes me some of the general noise that comes from the crossfit community.

      1. PLEASE don't tell me that crossfit is "explosive". It is not. It is explosive perhaps for the first few reps, then the fibers that provide the greatest twitch tire and no long work in sync with endurance fibers. At that point, you are no longer training those fibers and won't be until you rest.

      2. As a technical field even coach, PLEASE do not tell me my athletes need "muscle confusion". I understand what the point is and don't have a problem with the concept. HOWEVER, when an athlete is trying to groove very complex neuromuscular motor patterns for things such as the javelin, hurdles, or triple jump, the last thing you need is "muscle confusion". In fact, crossfit training creates an acidic environment in the body that actually leads to the degradation of coordination. This doesn't mean crossfit is bad, it means it is an inappropriate training tool for the job, especially with developing athletes who have not mastered good technique. And yet…

      3. I have heard most of the local crossfit guys here display breathtaking ignorance of all things speed, explosion, and technique as it applies to track and field. Crossfit people tend to have a one-size-fits-all attitude toward any issue: the answer is always more crossfit. This is a sure sign of groupthink, as we hear similar stuff from chiropractic (which ALSO isn't bad) or religion. The answer is always more chiropractic or more prayer and giving or whatever. That's not clear thinking.

      The bottom line is that a bunch of very enthusiastic people are getting way ahead of themselves. I completely understand the enthusiasm, but please don't think that your "crossfit certification" means you know more applicable training information than people who have been paying attention for 25 years…and getting actual results rather than making theoretical claims based on your own experience.

      • PPT on July 8, 2012 at 3:02 am

        This is perfect. Very well said.

      • PPT on July 8, 2012 at 3:03 am

        This is perfect. Very well said.

      • Anonymous on September 6, 2012 at 8:57 pm

        Agreed. I too am a T&F coach, the long jump and triple jump. I hold certifications in USA T&F; USA Triathlon and AFAA PT, plus I competed at the D1 level in the LJ and TJ in college and still compete at the Masters level today. I can't stand it when a CF/CFE certified coach tells me that they know what's better for track athletes and yet they don't have a lick of experience. Let me add that my ONE athlete who decided to to do CF in the off-season completely wrenched his back and missed the entire season.

        I did CF for a while thinking it would be a nice off-season add to my training regimen, but when I started making tweaks to the cardio portion, specific to my jumping needs, their coach chose to argue with me in that I was wrong. That was the last time I stepped foot inside a CF gym. No respect for specialization, individualization or one's own experience.

    53. Anonymous on February 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm
    54. Paul on February 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Hi Steve,

      First of all, let me say I love your blog and all the hard thinking that goes into it. It's a favorite.

      Secondly, this is a great posting..obviously make some people upset…whoa.

      Thirdly, in honor of your blog I have done a little bit of running 'science' of my own (actually just analysis):

      If you have any comments I would be grateful!


    55. misszippy on February 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      Very interesting read! My take would be that for someone who is just looking to be fit and look good, CrossFit does the trick. If, however, you are a runner looking to improve your endurance, it's probably not the way to go. Runners do need some strength work, but specificity will always outweigh the rest.

    56. IronLinae, PhD on February 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      Thanks for your article. I am a bio prof and endurance athlete who took up Crossfit a few years ago. It's the only strength training I've ever enjoyed which is one of the reasons why I stayed. That being said, there are times in my training cycle where the randomness of Crossfit is counterproductive. Looking forward to reading what you have to say about balancing the two pathways.

    57. Neeraj Rohilla on March 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      "You want to run a sub 20 min 5K, deadlift 500 lbs, be able to do 30 pull-ups in a row, clean and jerk 300 lbs, do what we do"

      Laughing my a** off. Good luck for you my friend. 🙂

      • Anonymous on August 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm

        It is funny that both sides are so convinced that they other side is completely wrong. This modality of trains exists because it works for some people. The key words here are some people not all people. I in fact fall into this category and enjoy training this way. I have tried the LSD and it bores me to death not to mention takes way to much of my time. Some people do find solace in LSD and that is awesome for them. I compete in Olympic lifting, 12/24 hour mountain bike races, marathons, and 100 mile ultras while being very close to the measurements you are laughing at above. My 5k is 18 min, deadlift is 455, 46 pull ups in a row, clean and jerk 255, with a squat of 450, and run a 5:22 mile. Is this fast and are these lifts exceptional? No but they are fun and I enjoy the training. Unless you are putting food on the table with your performance why not enjoy what you are doing?

      • winegeek on February 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm


    58. Lydia on March 2, 2012 at 2:49 am

      I am always overwhelmed by the amount of responses you get on your articles. I came to know about you by way of Jason Fitzgerald from He was my running coach for quite some time and I know he thinks highly of you. I want you to know that I refer people to your website quite frequently. I have quite a few friends that LOVE to workout. It's interesting to sit back and watch them go through fad after fad, always thinking they have found the latest and greatest, only to fizzle away from it a short time later, or get injured because they, simply put, did too much too soon. It never works out. I've tried to argue my point and always fall short. This is where I'm happy that you put it so eloquently for me….Thanks Steve.

    59. Anonymous on March 4, 2012 at 3:17 am

      Why do you nerds insist on writing walls of text? Just short and to the point will suffice.

    60. Benny on March 5, 2012 at 4:14 am

      Great Article Steve!

    61. Mr. Motoactv on March 11, 2012 at 4:01 am

      CF is NOT the way of the future. I certainly agree with you in the sense that it is a marketing scam. But isn't that how business is done anyways? If there is a sliver of true to a product and I own that product, exploit it for money however I can. Now, I'm not saying that's how I would do business, but you get the point…..

    62. Anonymous on March 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Let me start off by saying that I do not do crossfit nor am I advocating it. I think that the some of the claims are obviously meant to make waves and draw attention. However if you look at a typical 3 day running week on the CFE website it really is not that dissimilar from Furman FIRST or even Hal Higdon's 5k plan just take away the short 3m easy jog recoveryday. I am 42 and due to 3 daughters and a heavy work load I simply can't run that much any longer. I do 3 quality hard workouts a week because I have to, I also lift hard 2 days a week. With this type of program I have run 16:40 for a 5k. In my 20's I ran about 50-60 a week and yes I did run 15:40 back then. I think that these types of programs have merit for the time cruched but not in ultras or marathons. It is illogical to compare an 80 mile a week program to what I do now because I just can't do 80 mile, or even 40 mile weeks. My family life simply doesn't allow it. The crossfit camp is a little nutty, but I find that the high mileage LSD crew to be just as nutty with the run more and more and more philosophy. I categorically disagree with anyone telling others there approach is wrong after all running is a great sport because it is so individualized.

    63. Anonymous on March 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      I think what gets people's hackles up is as much about CrossFit's provenance, motives, and ambitions, as it is about its claims.

      Reebok have decided they own it and are going to extract as much money as they can from it.

      Glassman is the enlightened one preaching to his disciples (Scientology anyone?) who then deliver it in various different guises.

      I'm just trying to get fitter, stronger, and enjoy doing it.

      That's what I get from my CF affiliate (UK), as a 2-3 times a week exerciser I've met some great people and in 2 months have seen some real improvement, and I'm looking forward to getting more involved in the social side and improving my nutrition. This is why I like it – the rest I can leave.

      I don't believe it's the answer for event specific elite athletes (surely that's common sense) – but then again it was never intended to be.

    64. omrsafetyo on April 8, 2012 at 2:33 am

      "Secondly, we know that VO2max is influenced by muscle fiber recruitment. So if we increase the amount of recruitable muscle fibers during a test, the VO2max will rise. What’s a way to increase muscle fiber recruitment? Sprinting, strength training, etc."

      This is interesting. I'd like to see how you come to this conclusion scientifically. My understanding is that VO2 max is oxygen use / bodyweight. I would expect VO2 max to decrease in response to a bodyweight increase that strength training and sprinting would cause. However, if the program increases oxygen utilization capacity, then you would see an increase in VO2 max. Since this is in response to a bodyweight increase, I would say this is definitely an improvement in baseline oxygen utilization, which suggests better performance to me. Care to back your argument up?

      Additionally, as it seems was already brought up, you are basically taking CrossFit and labeling it CrossFit Endurance, which is quite fallacious. CFE does plenty of endurance specific work. Even regular CrossFit does more distance work than you are giving credit for. Granted, a CF gym is not going to have people paying for membership show up, and tell them to go run 10 miles – what is the point of the gym if you do that? However, many CF members get together (with the trainers) and go run 5Ks, 10Ks, or even half-marathons on a regular basis. And on the main site you will see 5Ks and 10Ks as well. CFE does this with much higher frequency. Again though, this is a baseline program – anyone is able to adapt either CF or CFE to their own needs – if you want to be competitive in endurance running, you are expected to do additional endurance work – it doesn't go against CF to do this, as long as you are hitting the 10 fundamentals of CF, you're still getting it right.

      Yes, you are over-generalizing, but that's not really even a big problem, so much as the specific of confusing CF with CFE as the same thing, and underselling each.

      Next, I have frequently seen LSD referred to as "Long Steady Distance", not slow. This can certainly mean a tempo run. But here's the thing, CrossFit is not designed to create a Long Distance runner. If anything they would like to build mid-distance runners (400m to 5 or 10K). The whole point of CrossFit saying "Fittest on earth" is not to say they can out run an ultra-distance runner in an ultra-distance race; but that they can beat an ultra-distance runner at anything other than distance running; a power-lifter at anything other than power-lifting; a swimmer at anything other than swimming; etc. etc. And for the most part, this is true. You have some very rounded athletes like Decathletes for which there is an exception – but as it has been touched on, an off-season training for a Decathlete is very similar to CrossFit. Heck, check out Usain Bolt's workouts – he uses the same basic movements and principles as CrossFit.

      And before you think I'm just a kool-aid drinking CrossFit nut, I'm the type of person you find on the CrossFit forums correcting my fellow CrossFitters when they criticize endurance athletes. Devil's advocate? Maybe, but more likely just a guy that sees flaws in arguments, and points them out to ensure each side gets a fair shot, without junk/pseudo science. Considering your site is labelled "science of..", I would expect you wouldn't fall victim to modelling the results/facts/observations in favor of your idea – but that is exactly what you have done in this article.

      • PPT on July 8, 2012 at 3:10 am

        People always think I am a crossfitter because I have a bunch of crossfit t-shirts.

        I'm a half-miler/miler who takes the t-shirts from the crossfit "athletes" I beat at their own workouts, or if they're stupid enough (and they often are) my workouts.

        My favorite crossfit moment:
        CF'er: "I'll do a repeat workout with you"
        Me: "I don't think you'd really benefit from it"
        CF'er: "My 400m PR is 58 seconds, how fast could you be going?"
        Me:"OK let's go."
        Rep 1 done in 63 seconds (crossfitter hanging on the back)
        Rep 2 done in 63 seconds (crossfitter sucking wind)
        Rep 3 done in 63 seconds (crossfitter further back sucking more wind)
        Rep 4 done in 63 seconds (crossfitter DNF'd)
        Reps 5-12 done solo with crossfitter dejectedly on the side of the track

      • Anonymous on December 4, 2012 at 11:21 am

        Hi PPT,
        Where can I find your workouts?

      • winegeek on February 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm

        PPT – I'm a crossfitter with a :56 400 PR, a 485# DL and a sub 18 5k. I can also ride a sub 5 hr century, pull a 6:30 2k on an erg, squat 400#, clean and jerk 245#, and swim a 200 free in under 1:50. I'm 36 years old. Want to do a repeat workout with me, and then maybe knock out a CF workout? Careful generalizing a whole group of people through a lone experience… might find yourself biting off more than you can chew.

      • winegeek on February 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm

        PPT – I'm a crossfitter with a :56 400 PR, a 485# DL and a sub 18 5k. I can also ride a sub 5 hr century, pull a 6:30 2k on an erg, squat 400#, clean and jerk 245#, and swim a 200 free in under 1:50. I'm 36 years old. Want to do a repeat workout with me, and then maybe knock out a CF workout? Careful generalizing a whole group of people through a lone experience… might find yourself biting off more than you can chew.

      • Anonymous on June 4, 2013 at 3:56 am

        Good job PPT. Looks like you've sunk to the same level of immaturity that most people hate crossfitters for.

      • Anonymous on June 25, 2013 at 9:08 am

        Wine geek – you must have a swimming background or are a part of some masters team because I highly doubt you can do a 1:50 in the 200 due to th fact that you do CF.

    65. Sassman on May 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Solid article, as are all the articles I have read on here. I think any of the CF people attacking this article are missing the point. If anyone has read any of the other articles on this site they would realize that Steve has always advocated a well rounded approach to a high quality running program that includes the right amounts of volume, intensity and even serious strength work as these are all essential for peak performance. What any serious high performance coach knows is that the key to success is also training with purpose and routine, which are also essential in the process of adapting to a stimulus to improve in a specific event. Yes routine needs to be changed when necessary, when a stimulus no longer elicits the desired response and adaptation no longer occurs. But to claim that routine and specificity are the enemy defeat the purpose of training to perform something at a high level. I could almost guarantee that the top level crossfiters don't even train according to the Crossfit mantra of routine is the enemy. I am certain that to be able to dead lift 500 pounds, clean 300 pounds and do 30 pull ups you need a well tailored specific routine done over a long period of time to get better at exactly those exercises. Following the general Crossfit plan that 99 percent follow won't get you there. The point is that specificity is key. When training for any event you need to break it down into the components you need to train working from general to specific as you approach your event.

      Never mind that the bulk of Crossfit work is nothing new. Lifting and circuits (met-cons for the CFer) have been employed by top running coaches, especially in the general prep phase, much longer than CF has been around. The only difference is that it's done with purpose directly related to improving in a specific event.

      I'm not bashing Crossfit, I did it for a while and now I'm back to running more seriously. It can be great for general fitness. It is just not great to improve in a specific event.

    66. Marc on May 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      Even Hitler doesn't like crossit

    67. Mark on May 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm

      You provide a very good critique of the technical reasons why runners should stick to what works for running. I'd like to highlight a large part of crossfit that has nothing to do with power output, VO2 or intervals. It teaches you about yourself. Crossfit has a competitive aspect to it. Because of that person just in front of me, I push myself to places I didn't know I could go. My first post-crossfit 5k dropped TWO minutes off my PR (24 down to 22) simply because I had learned that my 100% wasn't even close. You might say to yourself that your 100% effort is 100%. Yeah, I thought that too… nope. And in the first months of crossfit I learned that my new 100% wasn't 100% either. We can all work harder. Doing that all alone on the high school track with a stopwatch – nope. But when you put someone three feet in front of me, I will try to catch them. And they will respond… in those moments you are working harder than you ever have and you don't feel your lungs or your legs and it is brilliant. I get to experience it a couple times a week. Today I was bested by someone 1/3 my age but we both went like hell and did not give up and it was awesome.

      • Bru on May 6, 2016 at 7:49 pm

        But that's exactly why crossfit is so bad. Strength and conditioning work should be individually tailored and carefully planned and executed. Competitive strength and conditioning is just a horrible idea. You're supposed to train diligently and with purpose, then go compete in an event, and return to your training with increased motivation. That's how sports work. A serious athlete isn't worried so much about how hard they are able to push themselves so much as when and how much it is appropriate and beneficial to do so. Pushing your body past its physical limits isn't something to be taken so lightly by the average Joe. I work in a profession with a mandatory fitness test involving walking quickly on a track with a weight vest on, and nearly every year someone dies of a heart attack because they are not ready for that kind of exertion. I'm glad that you are gaining self confidence but pushing your body that hard several times a week isn't healthy in the long term.

    68. beachlee on June 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Would you recommend having regular breaks from the cross fit system (if you are using it for general fitness) so that you do not hit the exhaustion wall? What specific training regimens do you prefer?

    69. Anonymous on June 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      I value your opinion! I've compted in 4 ironman's . For the first two used the traditional method, third dabbled with CFE and my last one just CFE & CF and I PR'd by an hour with a sub 11 hour and ran my fastest marathon . Personally I do better on the less is more approach as I get older. I do believe you should test your body/mind on occasion, but I found the more I trained the slower and overstrained I became. II believe it's a personal process.

      • Lahric on February 10, 2013 at 9:54 pm

        I agree. Even when I was at school running 400m-1500m. National champion at 800m. I thrived on three quality sessions a week with weights and playing rugby.
        Now I'm half way through my first CFE training cycle with CF three times a week. It resembles the training I used to do and enjoy. I enjoy the improved strength and stability I feel in my hips and stability in my shoulders on my long runs. The CF coaches I have come from an endurance background and are very sympathetic to my needs and goals.
        I definitely think its horses for courses. But anyone who training in one modality only has to be missing out on improve performance.

    70. lieva on June 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

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    71. Anonymous on August 5, 2012 at 11:43 am

      Look at a crossfitter's body compared to a distance runner. I prefer the former.

    72. Anonymous on September 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks for a thought-out article in the middle of a loud argument.
      I have to +1 Torrey's comment on your average CF'er and your average runner having different goals. Ends the /general/ argument quickly, but thinking through the differences is important.
      I have to also agree with the concept of periodization, specifically that most runners could benefit from some sort of general XT in their base period, and CF would fit that bill well. The average runner, though, doesn't tend to periodize.
      +1 to Mark, learning that your well is deep is valuable in any discipline. 🙂
      Thanks again.

    73. Anonymous on September 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      I don't get it? What's wrong with you doing your thing & crossfitters doing theirs? Dumping a girl because she's a crossfitter is just pathetic by the way!

    74. Simon on September 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      I like crossfit – it's a great idea, there are people who have been working out in the gym just lifting weights for years, never pushing themselves that hard, never competing at anything. This gives those people an outlet. Also, I've used it to help my running and I'm sure it has helped me improve further when I had stopped doing so. I also like all the 'them vs us' stuff it creates, I like the fashion too – some of the designs these guys have come up with are great if you like weight lifting and all that stuff – sometimes it's a bit over the top, but check these guys out:

      Anyway – I like it. Still, good article, well thought out and you've put a lot of effort in!

    75. cgillies on October 5, 2012 at 2:30 am

      Hi, really interesting article.

      I am an ultra-marathon runner, with runs up to 190km.. regular 100km runs. I CF.

      Mostly at home, using standard WOD's. For me I find that it breaks up the running, I find it challenging and interesting. I do believe that for my needs it builds up a good level of strength that I would otherwise be lacking.

      I have spent years on and off in the gym, doing the "standard" strength workouts… which also work ok, but I enjoy the format of the CF much better.

      Could I do ultra's using CF or CFE alone? Not a hope in hell.. but do find that they supplemental my running… yes. Box jumps, wall ball throws, chin ups, squats.. are all great and doing them with intensity gets my heart racing.

      There are pro's and con's to everything. I am sure that CF makes over the top claims, as does EVERY company in the marketing fluff, but personally I enjoy it.

      • Boris Hornbei on December 27, 2013 at 7:42 pm

        Agree. I have nothing against CF, have used some CF methods. Plus, I effectively cured piriformis psiatica that would cripple me during ultras, by doing very heavy leg-press machine work at the gym. Also, now do heavy deadlifts (for my age, almost 72) and find it greatly helps my speed and injury protection as a runner. Very, very stupid to adopt an either/or stance to exercise. My system is better than yours. For what? Steve's article was narrowly confined, to showing why a blend of endurance/interval work better prepares marathoners.

    76. Tylar on November 9, 2012 at 1:41 am

      CrossFit programming elicits a response in line with their definition of fitness. Yes most CrossFit enthusiasts believe that being competent in all things fitness is preferable to specialty.

    77. Chris Schrader on November 27, 2012 at 4:04 am

      Good points and counter points just depends which side of the aisle you are on. I will stick with the distance endurance side. What are your thoughts on the PAAVO system of training as it relates to proven performance parameters.

    78. Anonymous on December 4, 2012 at 10:51 am

      F/ 44yr/ 5'3" / 136lbs / CF 2 yrs
      Interesting article. I happened to start CF with an excellent coach about 2 yrs ago, when I was about 162lbs. I had NEVER been athletic IN MY ENITRE LIFE!! (Despite spending about 1.5 hours at the gym 3 to 4 times a week, personal training, etc. I also had a lower back that went out about every 8 months & I needed to chew percocet like candy to move at all)I can now jump like Spider Man & climb a 20'rope, and deadlift more than my body weight, run a 10k, and a lot of other things I NEVER DREAMED I COULD EVER DO. I also travel frequently & will say that 8 out of every 10 CF boxes I've been to are dangerous! I have no love for Glassman or the way the franchises are (not) monitored. As I've gotten stronger & better educated about health and fitness, I am less of a CF fanatic than I once was. YET – A good CF box, with good, experienced coaches provides an invaluable, life changing learning experience for people like me (and there so many more people like me than there are elite athletes in the world). So, as a now somewhat intermediate athlete-type person tabata runs will only continue to improve my performance for about 6 months or so? Fine. I went from a 13.48 minute mile to a 6.42 minute mile over the course of one year. Pleases me greatly. And, I LOVE it, hence my ability to be consistent with a 3-on, 1-off schedule for over 2 years. I'm not saying what your points are wrong – They are probably one hundred percent on the mark. They are also just completely irrelevant to someone like me. Unless you have something better to offer.

      • Nosmo on February 1, 2016 at 6:09 pm

        You found a good coach. That is what is most important with any sport or fitness program. If 8 out of 10 CF boxes dangerous than CF has a real problem.

    79. Katie on December 5, 2012 at 3:59 am

      I agree that there are some cocky Crossfitters out there that give it a bad rap. Especially with the hype surrounding the Crossfit Games, etc, but we aren't all bad. I'm not knowledgeable enough on the subject of aerobic respiration to comment on that part of the exercise, but I do CF and can say that it is not meant to be individualized for specific athletes/sports. It is meant to make you stronger and more fit overall and able to take on any challenge. The variety or "randomizing" keeps it interesting and fun, which keeps many CFers motivated. I am personally not a "runner." I've tried to be one, and I would LOVE to be one, but I'm just not. The CF workout is more fitting for the type of exercise that works for me. To each his own.

    80. Anonymous on December 9, 2012 at 6:47 am

      My issue with crossfit is their misconceptions of "Lydiard." Its funny they think he is all LSD (as with alot of other runners), when clearly he has stated countless times that he advocates for LSD in the form of long steady distance. Also his original program back in the 50s-60s is way more intense then "CrossFit Endurance" will ever be. I would like to see any crossfit athlete do 6 weeks of 6 hill workouts and 1 long steady 20 miler during each week of that period. Also Lydiards original interval training was quite intense as well, as he used 6 INTERVAL workouts weekly when in the interval phase (source comes from Run to the Top). If someone would rather do crossfit instead of a distance program, its not a big deal. In my eyes at least they are exercising in some sort of way and not becoming obese. However, as someone whose a huge fan of Lydiard, I think crossfitters should really read what Lydiard actually says. That said, Crossfit endurance wont replace the endurance model (we saw that with the late 1980s-1990s that abandoning the endurance model cost us alot of medals in the olympics and left us way behind the Kenyans). Just my two cents.

    81. Anonymous on December 18, 2012 at 5:56 am

      I am a somewhat competitive runner on a local level when in "running" shape (16-17 minute 5ks) but will go on yearly stints of not running and only working out with weights for primarily vanity reasons. I have more of a runner (ectomorph) physique so I actually do a lot of heavy powerlifting exercises to try to put on upper body mass. Anyway, I don't think CrossFit is particularly special. It's high intensity powerlifting, body weight exercises, and aerobic exercises. Most of which I already do in some form or fashion (However, I only do clean and presses and deadlifts). I think there are only 2 good things about CrossFit: 1. They introduce normal people to the power and effectiveness of powerlifting exercises for overall body strength who probably would be too intimidated in a gym to try it by themselves. and 2. Offer motivation, structure, and confidence to people that need constant feedback. But like most marketing routines, they simply package a bunch of tried and true workouts and throw in some smoke & mirrors. I guess the part that everyone on here including Steve has a problem with is the fact that the leaders and participants in this CrossFit fad try to challenge participants in very mature, and very research backed sports such as running and powerlifting which is laughable. You want to be a top notch runner, follow what people like Galen Rupp, Ryan Hall, Alberto Salazar, Renato Canova, Steve Magness etc say and do. You want to just finish a marathon, follow CrossFit, Oprah Winfrey, and Puff Daddy. BTW – Steve love this site… only wish you blogged more. Good luck in your new coaching endeavors.

    82. Anonymous on January 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Crossfitters and runners have different goals, so of course their training methods are going to be different! And breaking up with someone because they exercise in a different way than you do is ridiculous! How shallow.

    83. Anonymous on January 16, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      I crossfit. It is a small gym, and shares space with another facility. It is really more of a club than a gym. I also know that the model my gym uses is not the typical one. Nobody has tried to sell me anything. The dues pay for certifications and training for volunteer instructors. Sometimes the dues get used to pay for stuff other patrons of the gym break. They do their own programming, and the staff (if you can call the volunteers staff) constantly promote other forms of training outside crossfitt. They also are super supportive of scaling workouts and subbing stuff in. Any injuries I have seen were due to people not knowing their own limits, and that one time the GHD machine broke. Over training and not listening to your body WILL wreck you in any routine.

      I have gotten stronger and faster doing the classes than I was before training on my own. It may not be an individualized plan written by an Olympian, but it is accessible and it works for me. It is also nothing more than the means to an end for me. Crossfit is also not my exclusive training tool. I wanted to be stronger and faster over a wide range of activities, and crossfit combined with more traditional cardio, mobility excercises, and yoga are helping me do that.

      I can see why crossfit would not work for other people. I can also see why following the program like a religion is dangerous. I hate that folks are so polarized about it. At the end of the day crossfit, HIIT, LSR's, and the like are just tools in a toolbox. Not everything is a nail people!

    84. Anonymous on February 1, 2013 at 3:09 am

      Do what you enjoy be it CrossFit, Running, Powerlifting etc..

    85. Anonymous on February 20, 2013 at 12:53 am

      I gotta say I started having doubts about Crossfit Endurance after beating male Crossfit Endurance athletes at a cross-country 8k race. I am a female 400m runner!

    86. Anonymous on March 1, 2013 at 12:07 am

      How about y'all just start rowing?

      There isn't a better all-body power endurance event out there than the 2000 meter rowing race. 6-8 minutes of 80/20 aerobic/anaerobic split. 500 watts per stroke, 1000 NM/ second. legs, core, back, shoulder arms.

      CrossFit is a 2010s fitness fad, and it is perfect for people trying to improve their general health and fitness.

      CrossFit will never be a replacement for collegiate/national/elite level sport-specific training. Any athlete performing at these levels is already adhering to a training program built specifically to exploit the body's physiological adaptations to specific intensities and types of training stimuli. This includes base work and high-intensity work. Unless you are a short distance sprinter (see Usain Bolt's comments about 400 runner having to train too much)

      CrossFit = Gilad's Bodys in Motion = Taebo = Cardio Kickboxing, etc – general fitness for non-athletes. All will succeed if you follow the plan (kind of like a weight loss diet – they all work, if you have the discipline to follow them)

      • Nosmo on February 1, 2016 at 7:02 pm

        1000 NM/ seconds is 1000 Watts. That is a 4:40 2k on the erg. I don't think so….
        500 Watts per stroke is meaningless. You want power over stroke rating which is just work per stroke. i.e. Newton-meters * 60.

        CF doesn't seem to be a fad. It is brilliant marketing and fine if you want that sort of culture, general fitness, and most importantly have a good coach and smart enough to learn how to do the exercises properly first.

        Me I'd rather spend my time in a boat.

    87. Matthew Francis Gawors on March 4, 2013 at 12:15 am

      I understand both many of the equation, as a business manager, high level triathlete, and health and wellness instructor at Binghamton Universiy.

      Business Side:
      Crossfit markets to the fitness enthusiast who needs some form of structure and motivation. Nothing wrong with that. Make some money, aid people in their motivation towards fitness.

      Fitness Side:
      Crossfit allows a person to be strong in an all around sense. This is great. Especially in the sense that the US has been developing an obesity problem that is going to effect the future with a negative outcome to the economy, health, and general well being.

      Performance Side (for endurance athletes, specially triathletes and runners):
      Crossfit is a good way to get back into a training program, especially during the winter months during a transition period and after race season. It allows the body to have a strength base for more functional movements and potential.
      On the other hand, Crossfit should NOT, (and I repeat, NOT) be used during an actual periodized training program. Strength should focus primarily on sport-specific FUNCTIONAL movements. Also intensity should be saved for "Build" periods. During these times, intensity should ALSO be saved for sport-specific training (40 mile bike with 15×5 min steady states). The body can only withstand so much.
      In conclusion, Crossfit would be ideal for early in an endurance athlete's season for generalized strength building and adaptations but should NOT be the focus of training. Crossfit is a good supplementation for a well structured endurance program, but CANNOT replace a 4.5 hour Brick (bike to run) endurance workout. Volume is essential for endurance athletes.
      Crossfit… Keep going along, you're doing fine.
      Endurance athletes… Take all "hype," and marketing, AND advertising with a grain of salt…

    88. Anonymous on March 31, 2013 at 11:21 am

      Know Your History…

      Good article. The real winners are the ones who collect the money at the top of the pyramid.

    89. Anonymous on March 31, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      or read his book intervention. or most of his stuff. I'm sure there are others who put it equally well, i just happened upon his writing and it appealed to me. No, I'm not a thrower … I'm a cyclist who dabbled in CF and has made it out the other side.

      his description of the quadrants and the discussion of 'just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should' as well as 'reasonable always trumps insanity (I cut that way down, don't be lazy just go read it yourself) makes sense to me.

      his discussions on goal setting, knowing where you are and where you want to be, make a ton of sense too. Probably because he is a good coach, or just a smart man.

      so if you have athletic goals, aside from the 'sport of fitness' (there was sarcasm there) then you would probably do well to avoid crossfit. If you don't really have goals and just want to try a bunch of fun shit, get sweaty and maybe see some attractive women (or men, your call) then maybe crossfit ain't that bad.

      Don't know why I bothered with this. The article way up there was pretty darn good.

    90. Urban Blues on April 3, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      As a non CFer, CF seems to be great if you want to be on the cover of Mens Health but not if you want to run a 5k faster. That said – if I had to choose I think I would rather be on the cover of Mens Health than be an elite 5ker.

      I speak as an intermediate runner, 30 mpw, 20:30 5k, late thirties male. During each week of a training block – roughly 8 weeks, I include 1 hill sprint workout, 1 trackwork/speed interval, 1 tempo run, and one 1 LSD run. The rest of the miles are recovery runs at conversation pace. Plus I lift 3x a week after running with what I think of as the big 4 – (Bench, Squat, Deadlift Shoulder Press) and body weight core stuff (pull-ups, dip, planks, push-ups etc). My guess is that, once you strip away the jargon (box, WOD etc.) and the social stuff, its not really that different than CF – other than maybe more miles and its strung together slightly differently.

      To be frank, my 5k time dropped the most when I focused on losing weight, almost more than any specific training. Dropping 10 lbs cut probably 1 a minute off my PR. The strength stuff helps with injury prevention and frankly lets me slog through the miles. So I think CF can be helpful if it gets folks to focus on functional strength.

      For the vast majority of us who will never make a living based on how we preform physically (whether as an athelete, personal trainer, dancer, fitness model, certain types of soldiers, or stuntman or whatever), excercise is just what we do (or should do) to keep ourselves healthy, sane, and, hopefully, attractive. So if CF works to do that, CF away. If running 12 miles on a Sunday morning does it, slog away. And if you do make a living phyiscally, then CF may help in certain circumstances and running 12 miles in others. But neither are going to replace specific training for a particular endeavour.

      So run faster and longer to run faster and longer. Jump often to jump longer and higher. Dance better, dance more often and longer. Do a variety of CF to do CF longer, faster and stronger.

      • Anonymous on June 24, 2013 at 1:24 am

        Couldn't have said it better myself! I am a long time runner who has begun (3 months into it) using CF as a way to balance my exercise and improve my overall health and fitness. So far it is working great. I am leaner, stronger, and less injury prone. I find it rather humorous that all of these folks who haven't even attempted CF are apparently experts on what it is and what it can do for you.

      • Anonymous on July 24, 2013 at 2:18 am

        Its called science and history. I dont have to try to go to the moon in order to know what going there is like.

    91. Anonymous on April 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      and why wont hard stupid workouts get you any where? say doing 30×400 with 400 jog in between. and the pace is entirely off effort 90% or above. how could that possibly not benefit you?

    92. JesusRunner33 on May 13, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      I'll start incorporating Crossfit into my program when the top distance runners in the world do. If the best athletes in my sport don't do it why would I? When the best coaches in the world don't have their athletes doing it why would I?

      When a Crossfit trained runner get on the podium in the Olympics I will on that very day do a Crossfit workout.. but not a day sooner.

    93. Anonymous on May 31, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      To each their own. I love training for distance (I've run 1530 for 5k) but I also see the value in cf workouts. It's not a bad idea for runners to throw some cf in a few times a week for fun

    94. Anonymous on June 28, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      "Point out that finishing and racing are different" Love that quote. So true. A freshman in HS with two weeks of training could technically finish a half marathon if they just set their mind to it. Hell, a lot of people could do what HS runners do…once…maybe twice. But they can't do it on a continuous basis. They can't do it everyday. They don't have the mindset to do it everyday and therefore they need something to break up the monotony. That's where CF comes into play.

      Another thing is that some people who do CF are the ones who BELIEVE (notice I said "believe", not "can't")they aren't able to really "specialize" in any one thing therefore they have to be average at everything. No, I'm not talking about the 30-60 yr. olds, no offense, but it is the 20 yr. olds who are so highly promoting it.

      (This applies to professional CF'ers mainly) We have also forgot to mention about all the different substances used in CF. Wow, just wow. Go ahead Steve, tell them how any people that do CF probably also use SOME sort of substance. Their is no ruling body for Crossfit. There are no drug tests. I'm not saying the NCAA do an amazing job or that USATF do an amazing job but at least they test their athletes. If you are going to be doing CF competitions where there is money or anything of monetary value involved you should be tested. End of story.

      • Anonymous on November 5, 2013 at 2:43 am

        Since you so obviously (feel the sarcasm here?!?) know about the CF substance policy… follow this link and READ (in capital letters so to suggest you do so with actually paying attention to detail) what the CrossFit HQ states about their policy on the use of banned substances not only in the CrossFit Games but also all other competitions leading to it… you so eloquently write about CF Pro athletes…. actually anyone registering for the games or even just a regional… "… All registered athletes are subject to banned substance testing at any point during the year, including random and unannounced testing during the off-season for any reason… "

        Next time… investigate into a matter first, get informed BEVORE loudmouthing around!!!

    95. Anonymous on July 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Guys, i started training very hard and very intensely in a crossfit way since last year and what i have gained is immense. I am a hard core runner. i love running. it is in almost every work out and before you top marathonners say race i have done two half marathons in 1 h 32m and 1 h 24 min. and i was the only guy in the 21k and 42k field who could spell deadlift. i think what is really a overlooked issue here is that people who don't know what they want to do,do crossfit. WHY? because it does everything. Those of us who know what we would like to do, do more of that. Do i think you can do cfe and then finish a 50mile? maybe finish good? no way. you see 12 weeks is just too little and in the end as much as cf help it hurts because now your muscle has to grow in several ways. so it will take you longer. my program was specialized to me, if yours isn't, don't be surprised when you get smoked. My recommendation for crossfitters is get a goal and leave everybody who has their own goal alone. You guys do get loud sometimes…

    96. Anonymous on July 24, 2013 at 2:17 am
    97. Summer Neal on July 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      I have to say that while I think this article has some great information I couldn't continue to read it because it sounds like the author is very hostile towards CrossFit. I am a runner and a crossFitter! I run 3/4 days a week & CrossFit 5 days a week. I do use some CFE training and when I am race training I use a combo of long distance running and CFE training. Have you ever actually tried CrossFit? There are all different types of people who do CorssFit at our Box from Tennis players to Marathon Runners to Olympic weight lifters. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Our trainers don't preach pain equals gain. In fact they preach good form, proper techniques, etc. If they see someone with their back rounding during a lift or struggling to breath or even if someone has some sort of issue with being upside down or scared of heights they make them back off the weight or give them a modification that simulates the exercise. We even have pregnant women working out. So before bashing it and getting upset about a different approach try it. Maybe you'll like it or maybe you won't, but don't just bash on it. I like mixing the different types of exercise. I don't particularly care for Zumba as an exercise, but I've tried it and it's fun and it gets your heart rate up. No reason to be so defensive.

    98. Anonymous on August 1, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      I myself am a little annoyed of the mainstream of Crossfit and the words that come out of the mouths of others who "CROSSFIT" train, and only having the knowledge of what their membership fee pays for.

      I myself am a person who has enjoyed incorporating Crossfit training/workouts for about 8 years, before it became mainstream. I started out at my boyfriend's military base learning the fundamentals of the explosive movements, the forms of Olympic lifting, and probably one of the first group of women who even could comprehend what to do with a kettle-bell in this generation..yadah yadah..

      With that said, I don't single myself in the "Crossfit" community. I am pretty well rounded when it comes to fitness; running 5-10k daily, have days where I do crossfit training, or just simply lift weights. I think Crossfit is a wonderful way to switch your workouts up or build up strength and endurance, but the industry and its term used to identify
      "Crossfit" has been abused, just like any other fitness fad (Insanity/Herbalife/P90x/Mudruns).

      There is a great purpose behind this new fitness craze, but what is most important that a lot of people who are new to the fitness world do not realize is; the correct form, the correct formula for their body, point blank the importance of working out correctly. What I have observed so far is a lot of people talking and not a lot of people walking. To me Fitness is a lifestyle not an accessory.

    99. Anonymous on August 17, 2013 at 1:54 pm
    100. Francis on August 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      The issue with crossfit tends to be a combination of the cult mentality paired with the high cost for what amounts to lifts you could do in your garage easily (and not exactly the most intelligent workout program). The pluses I'll give crossfit is theyve socialized exercise with is simply something many people NEED to get into shape.

    101. Anonymous on November 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      One interesting element to CrossFit and HIIT is that they have generated, a self-sustaining internet consciousness fueled by the cult-like members posting widely. Because the general public has no idea about fitness in general, if lots of people talk about their great fitness gains, and even great running results, from something like CrossFit or HIIT, it tends to get accepted more broadly as a belief communicated along social lines even if the facts don't match.

      I have seen several "fitness expert" posters online from CrossFit/HIIT backgrounds who brag about being "5k specialists" and "ultra runners," for instance. The fact that an 18 minute 5k from one of these "5k specialists" wouldn't even make them a good high school runner seems to not trouble them one bit. Some probably believe their own smoke, but I am also struck by how some of these "5k specialists" seem to specialize in small races with no prize money, where they are likely to place in the top three of the masters division simply because they are running against maybe 15 people, only two others of whom actually run regularly. Pick up a couple top-three finishes in that kind of race, then "coach" a few runners who put up similarly mediocre results, and hold yourself out as an "authority" seem to be the pattern.

    102. Dwaine Ingarfield on January 1, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      Great article. Thanks for writing. Good to hear the other side.
      – Dwaine Ingarfield

    103. Brett on February 22, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      Well here is a non-scientific/anecdotal response to your article.

      1) Everybody I know that does CrossFit gets a pretty significant injury (ie has to stop exercising altogether for at least a week) once or twice a year.

      2) I have never met anybody that does CrossFit who is actually 'fit'. I researched the world championship CrossFit games one time – they showed the final rankings online so I clicked through several of the top men. They have a profile along with things like personal records. Nearly all of their 5k personal records were 22-23 minutes or higher – HUH? And in this championship event was a 4.5 mile run in the hills I believe in Southern California. Hundreds of competitors – not a single finisher (yes this includes the overall winner) broke a 9 minute mile pace.

      • Stephen Kendall on January 30, 2015 at 4:40 pm

        Runners get hurt all the time following these traditional programs. Reserach ( has shown that 70% of runners suffer an injury during the year, so the injury argument thrown out here is ludicrous.

        As far as the run goes, the only event I remember having a run was the triple 3, which included a 3,000-meter row, 300 double under jump ropes and a 5k run. There was no posted time for each part of that, but the winning time was 33:)3 for the entire event.

    104. Stephen Kendall on January 30, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      I laugh at the CF causes injury argument. Is this opposed to the large percentage of people who get hurt following the "traditional" marathon plans? Nearly 70 percent of runners suffer an injury each year ( What is the percentage of CFE athletes who suffer injuries due to their training program?

    105. Tony Derriso on January 15, 2016 at 1:59 am

      CFE does not claim to be the best way. It is simply "an alternative method of training that is useful for a broad range of runners" (Unbreakable Runner, p. 12). In the words of CFE founder, Brian MacKenzie, "there's more than one path to the mountaintop." I've found the program useful because I am no longer an elite athlete…I'm simply a middle aged dude with a wife and four kids who doesn't have time to run 80 miles a week. CFE is an alternative program requiring far less time, but still giving me the results I want, including a higher level of functional fitness and greater mobility.

    106. […] Crossfit endurance, Tabata sprints, and why people just. – Not terribly long ago, I stopped dating a girl because she did crossfit. Okay, it wasn’t the only reason, but it was a major factor. I mention this not to show how. […]

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