Can you train metcon style, run sprints, or do CrossFit to train for half-marathons? What percent of the mileage should you cut out and sub with cross training?
At one point, these were questions I asked myself, not because I had lost my love for running, but because I wanted to get better.
The mileage that I have put on my knees and shins has certainly started to show itself in the form of shin splints and stress fractures. But like most runners, I didn’t want to stop. Most athletes will actually put themselves through extreme pain in order to finish that task at hand. So, I get it.
For me, it’s been finding that same metabolic intensity in my CrossFit and Metcon workouts. As a result of decreasing my mileage and increasing my strength training, not only am I experiencing less wear and tear on my body, but I am running better than ever before.
Did you know that one of the causes of shin splints is because the muscles around your tibia bone aren’t strong enough to handle the constant impact that comes along with distance running. Just think: bones grow stronger when muscles grow stronger, it goes hand in hand!
I find it helpful to cut mileage by about 20-30% and sub that 20-30% with metabolic strength conditioning and weight lifting. This would mean that if you are running about 30 miles/week, you cut that to about 20-22 miles/week and sub 3 of the running days you cut out with Crosstraining (i.e. CrossFit, olympic weightlifting, or HIIT strength-training).
For half marathoners, during an off-season (a time where you aren’t training for a half marathon) I would run at MOST one 8 mile run per week, with a 5 or 6 mile run, and a 3 or 4 mile run- the remaining miles would be in sprints/intervals/stadiums/hill repeats. When actually training for a half marathon, in the weeks leading op to the race, I would run at MOST one hard 6 mile run, an 8 mile run, and one 10 mile run and follow the same program structured above.
In terms of strength training, runners inherently pull from the ground best. The triple extension that comes along with these types of lifts can help you to create a stronger stride and a faster pace when it comes to running.
According to Jeff Gaudette, columnist for Competitor.com; “When you make yourself stronger, say by lifting heavy weights at near max effort, you might be able to improve your sprint power from 500 to 600 watts. In doing so, you move your submaximal sustainable power during a 10k from 250 to 300 watts. Given you’re now generating more power with the same effort, you’ll be able to run considerably faster.”