Whether you like it or not, running increases lung capacity, meaning faster times and efficient endurance when performing a workout.
For a lot of us, running is still one of the least favorite movements in a CrossFit workout. Sure, it’s nice to cheer everyone on when it’s time to do “Helen” (a triplet of a 400m run, kettlebell swings and pull-ups) but let’s be honest, running is not a very exciting part of the variety of movements that CrossFit offers. One of the reasons why CrossFit has gained popularity is because it offers a “cardio solution” to those of us who don’t like running, or cardio workouts in general. It’s important to keep in mind that running as an activity is very different to running as part of a CrossFit workout. It’s a lot harder and involves a different way of training. In this article we are going to give you some advice on how to be a better runner and hopefully you will enjoy those running workouts a little bit more. And for fun, we’ll talk about some of the attitudes CrossFitters have when they run. Maybe some will resonate with you? Let’s find out!
How to be a better runner?
In CrossFit, and any other sport, it’s crucial to develop proper technique before progressing to more challenging movements and heavier weights. Running is no exception. We have to start by learning how to run with proper form because poor form creates injuries and results in slower endurance gains. Little changes can make great differences when it comes to upping your running game. Here are a few tips to become a better runner.
- In CrossFit, and any other sport, it’s crucial to develop proper technique before progressing to more challenging movements and heavier weights. Running is no exception. We have to start by learning how to run with proper form because poor form creates injuries and results in slower endurance gains. Little changes can make great differences when it comes to upping your running game. Here are a few tips to become a better runner.
- Don’t let your arms cross your body. Arms should be relaxed at your side moving front to back, not swinging side to side or across the body – think “T. Rex hands” thumbs up, pinky down.
- Strike on the balls of your feet not on the heels. Placing your foot down incorrectly can send stress up the leg, through the knee, and into the hip and lower back – think about “gripping the ground with your feet”.
- Control your breathing. Take deep breaths in order to maximize the oxygen fuel for your body – think “belly breathing”. As you inhale, your belly should expand out like a balloon. Then, when you exhale, push all the air out of the balloon.
- Mentally prepare for the run. The mind and body are connected – think “mental power to muscle power” just the way you do when lifting weights. Visualize the task before executing it.
Becoming a better runner takes time. Remember to use the above tips during your next workout. Work hard and be consistent. You got it, girl!
Types of Runners at a CrossFit Gym
Sometimes our attitudes and expectations make a bigger difference than our training and effort do. Maybe we expect to PR or maybe we build it up so much in our minds that it will be so hard that we don’t give ourselves the possibility to do well. Having trained with CrossFitters from several places around the world for the past five years, I was able to observe them while running and realize that most fall into the following categories based upon their attitude toward running:
The Steady State
The Steady State is the devoted runner of the gym, regardless of their ability. This athlete secretly gains pleasure from running and strives to improve her own ability while also supporting the other CrossFitters. Keeping a steady pace allows her to cheer on others while she’s running. She knows she may not be a master runner, but is still devoted to improving and supporting her fellow gym mates. Other CrossFitters running by her side recognize her good vibes and get motivated to finish running in the time cap.
We all know this one. When the clock starts, she flies! She is interested in showing off her great running ability and setting the lead from the beginning. There is only one problem though; the workout is more than one round and eventually she falls back to Earth. After the workout, she utters those infamous words, “I think I started a little too fast.” But, despite this acknowledgement, you know when the next running workout comes, she will be off to the races again.
Not Today Coach
This CrossFitter’s style of running and practicing is more casual. She doesn’t have a winning or competitive edge for running. Rather, she realizes her own limits and doesn’t set major goals or push herself in hope of leading the score on the whiteboard. She is very honest with herself and her coach. Although “not today coach” has become one of her most used phrases when running is in the workout list, she does it to finish the workout and move on.
The “shirts are dumb”
Whether it is summer or winter, this CrossFitter just loves the feeling of taking off her top and running freely on her sports bra. She even feels lighter and more enthusiastic. She enjoys the sun in her skin and the shining layer of her sweat on her upper body. There is no explanation needed, it’s just because she enjoys the feeling. And who can blame her? If running shirtless makes her enjoy running, she might even perform better. You do you girl!
The “not doing it, I’m good here”
This CrossFitter has declared war on running, she truly dislikes running and when she does it, it makes her feel miserable and out of energy. Not to mention that running has become the source of her knee pain (that’s what she believes anyway). So without hesitation, she informs her coach about the change, jumps into the rowing machine and substitutes running miles for rowing meters. She is persuaded that rowing is more effective than running, adding upper body strength and mobility to her workout. She is good where she is, sitting on a rowing machine and getting a great workout that will make her feel great afterwards.
The Reluctant Runner
This CrossFitter starts the run where she is at that moment, not where she wants to be. She runs smoothly and when needed to, she walks allowing herself to slow the pace when she needs. She simply takes that walking shame and throws it in the garbage. She goes easy on herself. She could come in dead last, after the time cap, and still feel OK cause she knows she has finished the workout and that is what it counts for her.
There is no secret on how to become a better runner. It requires hard work, consistency, patience, and the mindset of a true champion. Use the five tips discussed in this article to take your running to the next level. Whether you’re looking to have a better time on your next workout or break your PR, these tips will certainly set you on the right track.
And remember, whatever your attitude, it matters. It can make a moment excruciatingly tougher than it needs or your mind can overcome momentary pain and lift you to a place you didn’t think you could ever go. If you encourage your mind to think positively, rather than quickly jumping into a negative way of thinking, you will find yourself enjoying your runs more. Smiling while in discomfort always helps!
Giuliana is a yoga instructor and Crossfitter from Peru who is currently living in Chiang Mai, Thailand with her Crossfit Coach (and husband) Tim.