Half-Marathon Training with CrossFit–Notebook Entry 1

The 3:30pm class at San Francisco CrossFit.

Monday’s X-Out: San Francisco CrossFit, 3:30pm class coached by Kelly Starrett. Hottest day of the year in San Francisco. I don’t think there’s any doubt on that one. The  workout was a “running Christine.”

3 rounds:

400m run/12 deadlifts with body weight (185 pounds)/21 box jumps (24in box)

For time.

Notes: Starrett started us off with a talk on proper body mechanics and lower back position with the dead lifts. For every rounded back he’d see during the workout I think we were going to get 20 burpees. (“I’ll cap it at 100,” he said). After the warm-up he also talked at length about the position of the feet with the box jumps….he had us practice a few and you could hear all of this thumping sound of people landing on the boxes. He had us take our shoes off and jump again. The thumping sounds dissappeared not just because of the lack of shoes but because we used our feet differently. Starrett encouraged us to learn how to land quietly like that–to use our feet rather than the cushion of the shoes. He also talked about keeping the feet straight and the knees out when jumping.

By the end of the deadlifts in the first round I knew we were in for a treat–I was already breathing extremely hard and I estimate my heart rate to have been over 170 for sure, maybe over 180. During my box jumps Starrett told me that my knees were caving inward as prepared to explode for the jump. He had talked about how collapsing the knees in this way compromises power and at the same time puts a lot of stress on the soft tissues. I spent the rest of the WOD thinking about correcting this movement pattern–I believed I could feel the additional power when I jumped with the right position of the knees and with my feet pointed forward as opposed to flaring out like a duck.

The flaring out like a duck thing is something that I’ve been aware that I’ve done for a long time. If I were to go running in snow or sand I could look back at my footprints and see that while my left foot was turned out just a little bit my right foot was turned out a lot.

After the workout Starrett gathered us in a circle and asked for feedback and questions. I asked about the turned out foot thing—Last week at a class coached by Brian MacKenzie he noticed that I wasn’t getting my right-side hamstrings and glute muscles to fire. This observation was in tune with something I’ve noticed in a lot of CrossFit movements–my left side was doing far more work and my right leg seemed to be along for the ride. MacKenzie told me this is a huge thing for me to work on—that “fixing the feet” and hence the balance of power usage is critical for my being able to run well and without the risk of the sorts of injuries I’ve had in the past (my right knee problems being the worst of the injuries I’ve dealt with).

I asked Starrett about this connection with the flaring right foot and the fact that I am not getting my right-side hamstring and glute muscles to fire. He went through this domino effect of a foot flaring out and the collapse of the power train up through the body.

He also suggested that the reason the foot flares in the first place is likely related to mobility issues in the hip flexors. So running with these problems–the flaring right foot and the shortened muscles just made everything worse and worse.

I sent an email last night to MacKenzie to ask for his advice on the basic CrossFit Endurance approach to running the Zappos.com Las Vegas half, which is just a little shy of 9 weeks from now. I have only been Crossfitting the last half of a year–no extra running. Making it to CrossFit 4-5 times per week the last month.

  1. CrossFit 4-6 times per week
  2. Running drills 3 times per week
  3. Fixing the feet work 2-3 times this week
  4. Glute-ham developer sit-ups 3 sets of 5 every day.

In Inside the Box, veteran journalist and marathoner T.J. Murphy goes all in to expose the gritty, high-intensity sport of CrossFit®. From staggering newcomer to evangelist, Murphy finds out how it feels, why it’s so popular, and whether CrossFit can fix his broken body.