May 10 2018
Take advantage of your gym’s rowing machine to build whole-body strength and improve your running.
I was excited to sign up for the new CrossFit gym in my town when it opened because I’d heard so much about the benefits runners can glean from CrossFit workouts. Unfortunately, I soon discovered it was not the right fit for me–or potentially anyone with a specific race goal in mind. Before you sign up, take a look at these pros and cons of how my “box” (CrossFit gym) operated so you can make an informed decision before trying it yourself.
The WOD, as it is commonly referred to by CrossFit members, is posted to an app the night before it’s presented at the box.
Pro: You know what you will be doing the next day.
Con: If it doesn’t fit with your running schedule, there is nothing you can do about it.
I had trouble scheduling my strength training because I didn’t know what the workout would be until 7:30 p.m. the night before a 9:30 a.m. class. If you have a race goal you’re working toward and your running schedule is laid out for the week, there’s no way to know when you will be doing seven rounds of squats or 800-meter runs and burpees, and therefore no way to simply supplement your running with strength training.
The training regiment and workouts vary wildly.
Pro: Having a variety of workouts is the perfect way to challenge your body and achieve total body strength.
Con: If you can’t go to CrossFit at least three or four days each week, this presents a real risk of injury.
One day I did an amazing workout that consisted of a series of deadlifts, overhead presses and time on the rower–all great exercises for runners. On another day, the posted workout included a six-minute hang, and each time a participant fell, they were to run 800 meters and do 20 burpees. What? Unfortunately for me, there were far fewer endurance or varied lifting classes than the ones that only consisted of squats or deadlifts.
I ended up skipping most of the heavy lifting workouts and those that only lasted 10 to 15 minutes, but then had to replace those with other running-specific workouts from my coach. Eventually I had to ask the question: Why am I paying two separate entities for the same thing?
Which brings me to my next point.
Pro: The coaches at my CrossFit were extremely knowledgeable and ran a tight ship with clean, efficient and brand new equipment. I never felt like I was not in capable hands or that I may get a stomach bug or other illness while in the box, both of which were extremely important to me.
Con: I was barely going.
The monthly cost of my particular gym was $150. Because the workouts varied so much, I only made it there once each week, so I was paying $37.50 per session. However, there were a lot of additional classes offered (like yoga, self defense and heavy lifting techniques), so if you’re going to take advantage of those, the cost may be worth it.
My best advice would be to take an introductory class, pop in at other classes or gain access to the class descriptions so that you know what you’re getting into before you make the monetary and time commitments. If you are training toward a specific running goal, it’s difficult to train consistently and specifically with CrossFit. However, if your goals involve gaining overall body strength and you’re available to take four or five classes each week, CrossFit may be a good option to help you become a stronger runner.